With downward pressure on fees, new fiduciary regulations talking hold and interest rates still low, financial advisors say they want more support from companies with whom they do business.
That life insurance companies, asset managers, broker dealers and benefits platforms.
The good news is that companies are gradually heeding the call with the introduction of web-based tools and solutions to help retail distributors.
In the case of some companies – MassMutual Financial Group – the support is truly comprehensive, with everything from fiduciary help to giving employees a clearer view of benefits enrollment to analytics insights.
MassMutual Financial Group’s AdvisorAdvantage+ offers practice management support to advisors who work with retirement plan sponsors, while the financial giant’s www.yourvalueprop.com website helps advisors differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
The Springfield, Mass.-based insurer unveiled the initiatives last month.
“MassMutual’s research finds that many advisors who serve the retirement plans marketplace struggle to succinctly state a value proposition when pitching their services to clients,” said Tom Foster, head of strategic relationship for retirement plans for MassMutual.
“It’s an opportunity lost,” he said in a news release.
Also last month, Benefitfocus, a cloud-based benefits management platform based in Charleston, S.C., announced its Preferred Partner Program and Broker Advisory Council.
The initiatives offer tools and expertise to brokers and advisors to help clients simplify benefits management, Benefitfocus said in a release.
Other large insurers, asset managers and mutual funds have gradually unveiled similar initiatives aimed at supporting retail investment advisors.
Advisors Affected in Different Ways
Advisors are affected in different ways by what is going on in the economic environment.
Low interest rates, for example, may cause advisors to seek more help in coming up with retirement income strategies.
By contrast, advisors with group retirement plan clients may prefer help with quantifying employer costs when employees are unprepared for retirement.
Still other advisors may look to large financial services companies for guidance with blending active and passive management strategies.
Advisors looking for help in with retirement income strategies say the best support comes from asset managers like American Funds, Jackson National, Charles Schwab and Prudential Financial, according to a survey of more than 600 financial advisors last summer by the consulting firm Practical Perspectives.
The survey found that advisors want simplicity, education, data, unbiased information, help with generating income, and marketing support in working with retirement income clients, said Howard Schneider, president of Practical Perspectives.
For financial advisors, the retirement plan marketplace is about solving problems and large companies have an opportunity to fill that need.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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