Within the retirement services industry, we are all comfortable with the complexity of the requirements and services made available to clients.  However, we often forget (or ignore) that to our clients, what we consider to be fairly basic can be quite confusing.  This is understandable, since while this is our job and expertise, it most certainly isn’t our clients.  We also do funny things in our industry pertaining to marketing.  I’ve often heard that the most famous section of the Internal Revenue Code is section 401(k).   The trend that’s occurred in recent years is to take definition sections of ERISA and turn them into services and marketing terms.  We’ve all heard them; 3(21), 3(38) and the latest iteration, 3(16).

However, even within the industry there is confusion surrounding what constitutes a ‘3(16) administrator’ and what falls into ‘3(16) services’.  If it’s confusing for the industry, it is most certainly confusing for the clients.  This presents a great opportunity for the skilled Retirement Plan Advisor to consult with  clients on what they’re needs are as opposed to just selling them on investments.  Plan consulting will need to be the primary skill of the new retirement plan advisor as the investment piece becomes increasingly commoditized.  In this piece from 401(k) Specialist Magazine, I discuss it further.