SPARK/DCIIA Team Up to Address Needs of Retirement Plan Advisors

Strengthening the retirement industry/advisor relationship.

SPARK Institute and the Defined Contribution Institution Investment Association (DCIIA), who share a commitment to enhance retirement security for America’s workers, are teaming up to strengthen the relationship between plan advisors and the retirement industry.

In October 2021, SPARK and DCIIA asked plan advisors to identify the products and services they value from recordkeepers and highlight where gaps remain. “Advisors are very busy, so getting them to respond to a big survey is always challenging” said Lew Minsky, President and CEO of DCIIA. “We were thrilled that more than 60 advisors took the time to answer our questions and provide information on 90-plus data points.”

Survey Highlights

At the recent SPARK Forum, this graph — which shows how advisors rank the importance of a dozen common recordkeeping features — generated a lively discussion among audience members and the panel of senior executives from the advisor community.

According to the survey, most advisors consider Cybersecurity & Fraud Prevention as most important, followed by Participant Support and Plan Sponsor Support. Surprisingly, Fees ranked fourth. “Cybersecurity & Fraud Prevention showing up as number one for advisors was a bit a surprise, but it makes sense now that the Department of Labor released their plan sponsor guidance on cybersecurity” noted Tim Rouse, Executive Director of SPARK Institute. “However, seeing Fees come in fourth place runs counter to what we’ve experienced for more than a decade. Are fees finally bottoming out?” Panelist Mike Griffin, Head of Sales and Relationship Management for Workplace Solutions at UBS, answered: “Fees will always be a key component in all of our searches, but we cannot sacrifice service, especially on things like the integrity and security of the plan.”

However, the survey indicated relatively low demand for Financial Wellness. This generated an important discussion at the SPARK Forum, with several advisors sharing their views. One observed that although these features are important — consistent with their heavy promotion throughout the advisor community — recordkeepers and related firms do not share information easily, which makes the advisor’s job very difficult. Panelist Jason Chepenik, Senior Vice President, Retirement & Wealth at OneDigital, concluded: “As an industry we need to come together on this issue if we are going to help Americans address their financial wellness.”

Workshop to Focus on Needs of Advisory Community

The SPARK-DCIIA survey and related SPARK Forum discussion highlighted the need for ongoing communication between the advisory community and members of the retirement industry. To address this issue SPARK and DCIIA are sponsoring a one-day workshop to bring advisors together with recordkeepers and other retirement industry service providers to continue this important dialogue:

What Advisors Need from the Retirement Industry

April 1, 2022 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

There is no fee to attend the Workshop, and it is open to all SPARK Members and the firms they work with, but space is limited. The workshop will cover topics such as digital security, privacy, and the participant experience.

About SPARK Institute
The SPARK Institute represents the interests of a broad-based cross section of retirement plan service providers and investment managers, including members that are banks, mutual fund companies, insurance companies, third-party administrators, trade clearing firms, and benefits consultants. Through the combined expertise of its member companies, the Institute provides research, education, testimony, and comments on pending legislative and regulatory issues to members of Congress and relevant government agency officials. Collectively, its members serve approximately 100 million participants in 401(k) and other defined contribution plans.

Founded in 2010, the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA) is a non-profit association dedicated to enhancing the retirement security of America’s workers. To do this, DCIIA fosters a dialogue among the leaders of the defined contribution community who are passionate about improving defined contribution outcomes. DCIIA’s diverse group of members include investment managers, consultants and advisors, law firms, record keepers, insurance companies, plan sponsors and other thought leaders who are collectively committed to the best interests of plan participants.

Media Contact
Tim Rouse, SPARK Institute, or 508-838-1919

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