Number of experienced defined-contribution plan advisers to grow with DOL fiduciary rule

The most specialized retirement plan advisers control nearly 70% of adviser-held DC assets

Jul 31, 2017 @ 11:29 am

By Greg Iacurci

Experienced retirement plan advisers represent a small fraction of the overall number of advisers working with defined-contribution plans, but they control a staggering amount of the assets.

Together, the elite DC-plan advisers, the most specialized group, and core advisers, a middle-tier group, represent 10% of all advisers getting paid on or managing a DC plan, but hold 68% of the adviser-controlled plan assets, according to figures from The Retirement Advisor University.

"Emerging" advisers, the least specialized of the bunch, represent the remaining 90% of DC-plan advisers and remainder of the $3.56 trillion in adviser-controlled plan assets. DC plans hold $7 trillion in aggregate.

Market forces and regulation, including the Labor Department's fiduciary rule, are squeezing some emerging advisers out of the DC market, and the core and elite group will likely swell as a result, according to some observers.

"I could see elites doubling in the next three to five years," said Fred Barstein, chief executive of The Retirement Advisor University. "And I could see the same thing with the core."

Defined-contribution plan advisers by the numbers
Adviser typeNo. of advisersNo. of DC plansAssets
Elite2,50057,500$937.5 billion
Core22,500200,000$1.5 trillion
Emerging225,000292,500$1.125 trillion
Total250,000550,000$3.56 trillion
Source: The Retirement Advisor University, 2017
Note: The total number includes advisers getting paid on or managing a DC plan. "Emerging" advisers have fewer than five plans and $25 million in plan assets. "Core" advisers have at least five plans and $25 million in assets. "Elite" advisers have at least 10 plans and $250 million in plan assets.

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