For the first time since Fidelity has been measuring attitudes of retirement plan sponsors, the sponsors say their number one priority is to prepare employees for retirement, Fidelity announced Thursday.

For the survey, Plan Sponsor Attitudes, Fidelity questioned 897 of its retirement plan sponsors in its fifth annual study. Retirement plans ranged from 25 to 10,000 participants.

“We’re seeing that the conversation between plan sponsors and advisors is starting to change,” says Jordan Burgess, senior vice president, head of defined contribution investment sales at Fidelity Financial Advisors Solutions. “While fiduciary responsibilities will always be top of mind, their needs are becoming more complex as all parties recognize the difficulties their employees are facing in saving for retirement.

“This may require some advisors to shift their mindset," he adds. "In addition to knowing their fees, funds and fiduciary responsibilities, they have to make sure they’re focused on retirement outcomes for employees.” 

Fidelity asked plan sponsors what advisors can do to improve their services and came up with three areas of possible action.

Advisors should help plan sponsors measure participants’ progress toward their retirement goals. Almost 70 percent of plan sponsors are thinking of making changes to their plans, nearly twice as many as two years ago, says Fidelity. Advisors can help with these changes while keeping the retirement goals of participants in mind.

Second, advisors should take a holistic view in helping plan sponsors make investment menu changes and go beyond just the investment menu. Advisors should demonstrate their investment knowledge by addressing the overall plan menu as well as its components, Fidelity says.

Finally, advisors should provide regular progress reports, letting the sponsors know where they are on performance goals.