More financial advisors are tapping into the retirement plan business and providing a range of services to both plan sponsors and participants. According to Cogent Research, the majority of plan sponsors are very satisfied with the advisors they work with, but advisors still have a lot of room for improvement, particularly when it comes to plan participant services.

Cogent says nearly half (48%) of plan sponsors employ a financial advisor, and 66% said they’re very satisfied with the overall level of service they get from their advisor. Linda York, vice president and head of Cogent’s syndicated division, says satisfaction is generally highest among the largest plans (those with more than $100 million in plan assets) and the lowest among micro plans (with less than $5 million in assets). “Micro plans are much more reliant on their advisors than bigger plan sponsors are,” she says.

Advisors provide four types of service to retirement plans: general support (helping plan sponsors navigate a plan’s features and design, as well as its investment options); oversight (monitoring plan provider fees and the provider selection process); regulatory and fiduciary support; and participant engagement (offering plan education and guidance with distribution and rollover options).

“Of these, the most important things that contribute to plan sponsor loyalty to their advisor are those general areas of plan support and oversight, which seem to be the areas advisors are spending the most time on and delivering on,” York says.

“For advisors who want to deepen their existing relationship and dedicate themselves to this business, there are always areas for improvement,” she adds. “And participant engagement seems to be an area where a lot of plan sponsors are reporting lower satisfaction levels.”

But some of that could be a perception problem, York notes, because many advisors spend time with participants talking about education, distributions and the like. “But they might not be as visible to the plan sponsor and not getting enough credit for what they’re already doing,” she says. “It may be a communication issue.”