Timing is everything, not just in retirement, but in the retirement business as well.
Two years after it started pushing RIAs to provide 401(k)s and 403(b)s in earnest, Jersey City, N.J.-based TD Ameritrade Institutional is enjoying positive results, thanks, in part, to improving financial technology, a changing regulatory environment and the rise of defined contribution plans as a primary method of retirement saving.
According to internal numbers reported by TD Ameritrade Institutional, a recent survey of RIAs revealed that 57 percent of advisors are already actively pursuing and managing retirement plan assets.
That should be a relief to retirees. When the dust finally clears from the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission fiduciary rule processes, plan sponsors may lean heavily on the RIA channel.
“The government is imposing a number of requirements to make plan providers line up under a fiduciary standard,” Newman says. “RIAs are structurally set up to meet these requirements, while other providers have had to do everything possible not to be deemed a fiduciary. When the Department of Labor comes out with their new regulations, it’s going to lend a lot more momentum to sponsors seeking out these services from RIAs.”
Newman says that custodians like TD help RIAs expand into the 401(k) industry by offering educational and digital tools to the advisors on their platform.
For example, at the National Linc conference in February, the firm launched a new tool for retirement plan advisors that allows them to search existing plan sponsors who might be attractive client prospects by size of the company, geographic location, economic sector and current plan provider.
Newman says that in its first month, use of the tool has exceeded its expectations.
“Technology allows firms like our to help advisors offer smaller companies service packages similar to what the largest firms in the country have,” Newman says. “Plans that have $1 million in them can now have the same services as those delivered to the $100 million plan market. Technology has helped us to become more efficient, and advisors are thriving in the small plan marketplace.”
Anecdotally, Newman says that more than 1,000 advisors attended preconference workshops and breakout sessions focused on the retirement plan business at TD Ameritrade’s conference in February.