PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - 13

2) Citing comparable examples of successful
plan design changes. " About 85% of the questions
on a typical adviser RFP are [standard]
and quickly separate out which entities can
deliver those services, " Middleton says. " The
other 15% are about the specific issues of that
plan sponsor and plan. That 15% is your best
opportunity to differentiate yourself, to say,
'Here are our recommendations that we think
would be best for you to achieve your goals
for your plan,' and 'Here are examples of
clients that are similar to your organization
that we've taken similar steps with, and here
are the results.' "
Being able to cite such examples " is a major differentiator, "
Gratton agrees. Doing so could mean showing the
impact of an employer match-formula change that could
also work well for the prospect, or the results of a reenrollment
done at a comparable employer. " I'm finding that
the RFPs we're responding to are very similar in the questions
they're asking, " he notes. " The way we try to stand
out, without getting too far away from the questions they're
asking on the RFP, is to include specific, short case studies-
with graphics if possible-on the results. That seems to
resonate very well. "
3) Providing participant fiduciary advice, not just education.
Gratton sees growing sponsor awareness of the distinction
between providing participants with education and with
fiduciary advice, both of which SageView offers. " Plan sponsors
have gotten very smart in understanding the difference, "
he says. A generic question he increasingly sees asks which
his firm can provide. " Three or four years ago, we wouldn't
have gotten that question. But now, plan sponsors are looking
for advisers to give [fiduciary] advice to participants. "
is important
to explain in the RFP response how
an advisory practice supplies that fiduciary advice. " In
responding to an RFP, what you have is 'translation risk,' "
that whoever evaluates your submission at the prospect's
will misunderstand your capabilities, Middleton says.
" When an advisory practice says it can offer advice for
participants, " he says, " sometimes that means the plan
adviser will stay for two hours after the committee meetings
and do one-on-one employee meetings. Sometimes it means
the advisory practice has a call center of specialists who can
give advice to participants anytime. And sometimes it means
the participant advice is given by a third-party provider that
has partnered with the advisory practice. "
4) Providing evidence of participant-level capabilities. In the
past, for employers running an RFP process, " this topic has
been more of an add-on, " Middleton says. " Now, participant
" You need to provide
evidence that the advisory
practice can deliver on that
employee support once the
firm is hired. "
services are a primary focus of RFPs. So an advisory organization
needs to have the ability to evidence in RFP responses its
participant-level resources and delivery of advice: You need
to provide evidence that the advisory practice can deliver on
that employee support once the firm is hired. " Besides " be
specific about service-delivery capabilities, " he also suggests
the adviser give examples of participant services performed at
similar employers and provide references of such employers
that the employer-prospect may contact.
" There's a major shift going on: We're finally getting real
traction and commitment from plan sponsors on investing
in participant services, " Gratton says. So, for SageView, he
says, it is a differentiator that the advisory firm has a call
center staffed with advisers who can give clients' employees
personalized advice about not only their retirement savings,
but also their other financial issues, such as getting a mortgage
or how to implement a living will. " People want that
kind of help, and it's not inexpensive [for an advisory firm]
to implement, " he says.
5) Offering informative reporting on participant-level work.
" What is also critically important about all this advice to
participants is reporting back to plan sponsors about the
[results], " Gratton says. " We have an impact report that we
give an employer, based on our custom CRM [customer relationship
management] system. "
With so much focus on participant services now, Gratton
sees that reporting capability as an important differentiator
for advisory firms. " Our system will tell us things like how
many employees called in to SageView, and we can tell the
employer about the themes we're seeing in our conversations,
such as struggling with college debt or caring for
aging parents. We put that data into a one-page summary
report, which allows us to work with the employer to make
decisions on what will have the most impact in our education
and advice in the future. It creates the opportunity to
have better, more informed conversations with a client. "
-Judy Ward
Practice Management | Fall 2023 | 13


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PLANADVISER - Fall 2023

At the Core
A Need to Show Value
The Talent Pipeline
Inside the Deal
Demand Performance
Are They Legally Binding?
The SEC on Cybersecurity
From Managing to Leading
Can You Predict Client Stress?  
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PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - FC1
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PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - 15
PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - At the Core
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PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - 19
PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - A Need to Show Value
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PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - The Talent Pipeline
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PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - Inside the Deal
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PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - Demand Performance
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PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - Are They Legally Binding?
PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - 35
PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - The SEC on Cybersecurity
PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - 37
PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - From Managing to Leading
PLANADVISER - Fall 2023 - Can You Predict Client Stress?  
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