Training Partnership

SPARK Institute and TRAU, The Retirement Advisor University, have agreed to partner and combine their industry training programs into one comprehensive educational offering for retirement plan advisors, providers and industry professionals. SPARK provides development programs to help retirement professionals gain the knowledge and skills required to become successful in today’s retirement plan industry by offering two industry recognized designations: 1) The Accredited Retirement Plan Consultant (ARPC) designation, designed for sales and marketing professionals and 2) The Accredited Retirement Plan Specialist (ARPS) designation, for administrative and recordkeeping professionals. SPARK training programs have been delivered to over 5,800 individuals in a classroom setting, and 2,756 individuals online – for a total of 8,559 industry professionals from 74 companies.

TRAU and its affiliate TPSU (The Plan Sponsor University) are leading online and in-person educators of DC advisors, plan sponsors and industry professionals. The C(k)P (Certified 401(k) Professional) designation, a collaboration with UCLA Anderson School of Management Executive Education, is the highest-level designation in the DC industry requiring industry experience, online courses and classroom training at UCLA.

There are almost 1,000 current C(k)P advisors and DC industry professionals. Since 2013, TPSU has trained almost 10,000 plan sponsors who have attended 500 half-day training programs around the country. “We are excited about this new partnership with TRAU and feel that it will enhance our student’s educational experience” said Tim Rouse, Executive Director of the SPARK Institute. “TRAU’s investment in learning technology and their years of successfully delivering retirement plan education to the Financial Advisor market were key factors in our decision to work together” Tim added.

Fred Barstein, Founder and CEO of The Retirement Advisor University shared his thoughts on this newly formed relationship, “We are excited to be partnering with SPARK on the industry’s oldest designation. The SPARK courses add a new dimension to our existing course lineup, positioning us to better serve our large Advisor client base,” Fred Barstein CEO of TRAU and TPSU noted. “Many experienced plan advisors have staff training needs and can benefit greatly from the SPARK courses. There are also many less experienced advisors that have a few plans who want to learn how to better serve their clients while leveraging their position as a plan advisor to expand their wealth management and IRA rollover business.”

Starting January 1, 2020, the SPARK Courses will be available on TRAU’s learning management platform. From now until the end of the year SPARK and TRAU will be in constant communications with SPARK’s currently enrolled students to notify them when courses are available on TRAU’s system and alert them to when courses will be scheduled to sunset on SPARK’s platform”, said Barstein.

For more information, please contact Tim Rouse by emailing

About the 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.

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