A ‘Disruptive’ Idea for the 401k RFP Process

Traditionally, RFPs are solicited from each individual plan provider, a process that can take months

401k, RFP, retirement, technologyAn idea long overdue.

What if 401k plan RFPs were submitted by multiple providers in one centralized location for a true apples-to-apples evaluation to ensure suitability for plan sponsors and participants?

A model that’s been employed in the consumer space for some time (think LendingTree and Rocket Mortgage), in this instance, it looks to save time and resources in choosing the right provider while maintaining plan quality and a high fiduciary standard.

It’s also the idea behind FiduciaryShield, which claims to be the first platform that allows retirement plans to quickly and easily solicit bids from dozens of the country’s top retirement plan providers.

The flagship product of FinTech start-up BidMoni, FiduciaryShield analyzes proposals “so plan sponsors and 401k advisors can determine which plan is best, document the entire process to stay compliant, and automatically monitor plans on an ongoing basis,” according to the company.

FiduciaryShield was designed by Stephen Daigle and Michael Steffan, along with CTO and co-founder Kendall Dixon. Daigle is a financial advisor and Steffan a former wholesaler with major plan providers.

“If you overcharge someone by 1 percent throughout the life of their employment (and this is on the DOL’s website), you’re essentially removing about a third of their account value,” Steffan said. “We built FiduciaryShield to bring transparency to all of the service providers in the mix and give the plan sponsor and the advisor the ability to ask for exactly what they need and not receive or pay for anything they don’t. And then have the ability to document the entire process and benchmark the plan.”

Traditionally, RFPs are solicited from each individual plan provider, a process that 401k advisors know can take months (or longer). The plan sponsor still has no easy way of comparing the resulting bids to ensure that plan costs and features were appropriate and reasonable, both of which are required under ERISA law.

“At its core, FiduciaryShield gives the sponsor and advisor the ability to run an RFP of all these different service providers,” Daigle added. “But then it provides the added ability to have it constantly monitored through data that alerts them (through different updates and at different times) to when they might need to go out and bid it again. That’s been an issue with the DOL; how often do you run an RFP? Our algorithm analyzes the market and different peer groups to alert them to where they fall in a certain range and ensure timeliness and ongoing suitability.”

There is no cost to a plan for initiating the RFP process and the company says it takes less than 30 minutes to get started.

If a plan sponsor selects a new plan provider, it pays FiduciaryShield a “nominal fee to monitor the plan and provide ongoing alerts.”

FiduciaryShield has partnered with First Ascent Asset Management to work with plan sponsors who want to delegate fiduciary responsibility for the management of plan investments.

First Ascent will serve as an independent “3(38) manager.” They accept fiduciary responsibility for selecting and monitoring investment options and can remove the conflicts of interest that have been the cause of many recent lawsuits.

The platform is available to “retirement plans of all sizes, including 401k, 403b, and 457b plans. Financial advisors can bring this service directly to their clients, even if they are not, themselves, retirement plan experts.”

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