The Hartford, the Connecticut insurer, is introducing a new practice management tool to help its financial advisors demonstrate their value to retirement plan providers in the wake of new federal regulations on disclosure fees.

It's called the Practice Management Portfolio, a suite of services to help financial advisors reach out to retirement plan sponsors proactively, help them improve their programs-and at the same time burnish the advisors' credentials.

"As part of the Hartford's program, we are encouraging advisors to take a comprehensive approach to reviewing the effectiveness of retirement plans with new and prospective clients, and, as necessary, recommend ways to improve their performance and efficiency," says Christine Chaia, assistant vice president of marketing for the Hartford's Retirement Plans Group.

The new program includes an electronic database to help advisors identify local plans whose sponsors may need assistance with such things as high fees, ineffective plan designs, operations headaches or fiduciary questions.

A nationwide series of practice management seminars will be held to educate advisors about the new disclosure requirements from the Department of Labor and tell them how to capitalize on those opportunities.

Materials will be provided to help advisors answer questions about the new fee disclosure regulations. A sample service agreement will be included that spells out what advisors will do to help sponsors and participants.

"Advisors play an important role in helping business owners and other sponsors evaluate, select, implement and run their retirement plans," says Tom Foster, vice president and national spokesperson for the Retirement Plans Group, who will conduct the seminars.

"Advisors should be comfortable discussing and, if possible, documenting the value they provide in helping plan sponsors make good decisions about providers, investment options, plan designs, participant education and other ongoing services," he adds.

--Karen DeMasters