Vendor Search

One Size Does Not Fit All

Some vendors cater to larger plans, some are structured for the smaller plan, and some vendors offer a 401(k) product as a “side” business while for others their 401(k) service is the primary model. New clients often wonder if they are with the right vendor for their plan dynamics. We subscribe to the old adage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. But if it is broken – we will lead the charge.

With 20 years in the 401(k) arena, we thoroughly understand the industry, vendors, investments and the fees charged. Leave it to us to facilitate the entire process from collecting proposals to attending vendor presentations; conducting site visits when warranted; and evaluating and analyzing the proposals. We use a specific set of criteria to narrow down the field of finalists before presenting those candidates to our clients. The criteria are as follows:

Commitment & Reputation

  • How many total 401(k) plans do they have?
  • How many 401(k) plans do they have in your size, demographic group, industry?
  • What is the average size account that they have as far as assets and number of participants?
  • What is their client retention rate and when clients terminate what is the reason given?
  • How many plans have they added over the last two years (to determine whether they are players in the marketplace)?
  • What is their financial strength, assets under management, pending litigation, recent mergers and/or acquisitions; and
  • Determine their viewpoint as to where they see themselves in three and five years?

Investment Options

  • How many total funds may a client select from?
  • How many funds are offered on the fund menu and what limitations are placed on the number of funds that can be offered?
  • Is there a vendor fund proprietary requirement?
  • What outside fund families are available?
  • Are there Index Style funds available?
  • Are there specialty funds available (i.e. technology, utilities,
    socially responsible funds)?
  • Are there lifestyle funds available?
  • Is there a process which will allow for the addition/deletion of funds?

Communication & Education

  • Do they have a dedicated service representative on the account?
  • Will they handle the enrollment process?
  • What kind of a re-enrollment process do they have?
  • Do they offer seminars for the employees?
  • What kind of education materials do they have available?
  • Will they meet with employees on a one-on-one basis if necessary?


  • Are they a daily valued pan?
  • Are they bundled or “unbundled”?
  • Do they get the 5500 signature ready?
  • How often do they perform discrimination testing?
  • Does the discrimination testing come with recommendations if you fail the testing?
  • Do they prepare a SAS-70 Report for an IRS Limited Scope Plan audit?
  • How are contributions remitted?
  • Can they be paper-less?
  • How do they gather the year-end information from the client?
  • What is the conversion process (mapping, cash, etc.); and
  • How long does it take to complete the conversion process?


  • Do they have full internet capabilities?
  • Can they make transfers 24/7?
  • Do they have the ability to offer a self-directed brokerage account?
  • Do they have the ability to offer on-line investment advice?
  • Do they have statements on demand?
  • Do they mail participant statements to the participants home; and
  • What services/technology do they provide that is superior to others in the industry?


  • Do they charge asset management fees? If so, in what increments are the fees decreased as the assets grow?
  • What is the average investment management fee?
  • What is the plan installation charge?
  • What are the annual charges?
  • Are there loan fees?
  • If applicable, what are the self-directed brokerage account fees?
  • What would the applicable trade costs be?
  • Do they compensate the representative/consultant, or does the client have to pay for that cost separately?
  • Are there any plan contract termination fees; and
  • What are the distribution fees?

Once your choice has been selected, our conversion team will walk you through the entire process. For assistance with your 401(k) vendor selection process, call us at 877-595-0833 or fill out the form below.

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Latest Updates & Information

1 Q 2018 Commentary

International Markets continue to be the most favored area of investment for the first quarter of 2018 and looking forward for the next 12 months. The best performing asset class in Q1 was emerging market.

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4 Q 2017 Commentary

Recent allocation changes have yielded good results in 2017. A greater exposure to International Equities turned out to be timely. There is still room for normalizing this allocation if you have not done so yet.

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Fourth Quarter 2017 Market Insights Video

Check out the Fourth Quarter Market Insights led by Beth Spurry, CFP, CTFA.

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