How Retirement Plan Participants Use Advisors

More are making financial decisions themselves

CHICAGO, IL–(Marketwired – Dec 18, 2014) – Retirement plan participants are not all using a financial advisor for their investments, though those that are have specific demands in the relationship, according to Spectrem Group’s latest Defined Contribution (DC) Participant Series report, Advisor Usage Among DC Plan Participants.

Spectrem’s latest report, which examines the relationship between 401(k) owners and financial advisors, found that only 56 percent of plan participants have a primary advisor.

Other findings from Advisor usage Among DC Plan Participants include:

  • Half of participants expect advisor phone calls to be returned in the same day; 59 percent expect emails to be answered in the same day.
  • Although the majority of participants rate their advisor as excellent or very good, a third of plan participants say they are making more decisions about financial needs themselves, rather than relying on a financial advisor.
  • In the coming year, 12 percent of plan participants are likely to fire their advisor. Respondents said primary issues that would prompt firing are “not returning calls in a timely manner” (49 percent) and “not providing good ideas and advice” (47 percent).
  • Investors’ favorite means of communication are face-to-face meetings (92 percent), newsletters (80 percent), blogs (68 percent), and social media (66 percent).

“Because almost half of defined contribution plan participants do not currently use an advisor, the market is fertile ground for advisors looking for new business accounts,” says George H. Walper, Jr., president of Spectrem Group. “Advisors need to be transparent about what they are offering DC plan participants in the way of services, and responsive not only in terms of returning phone calls but also in initiating investment conversations.”

Additional insights are available at and Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner, including:

  • Are DC Plan Participants Using Advisors?
    excerpt:According to Spectrem’s Defined Contribution Participant Series report Advisor Relationships and Changing Advice Requirements, 56 percent of DC plan participants have a primary financial advisor, and they only consult their advisor on less than 20 percent of their investment funds. This indicates a personal approach to investing that advisors should consider when offering assistance.
  • How Advisors Irritate Defined Contribution Plan Participants
    excerpt: Only 56 percent of all DC plan participants use a financial advisor, and that percentage drops below 50 percent for plan participants below the age of 36. Older 401(k) investors are more likely to have an advisor relationship.


About Spectrem Group: Spectrem Group ( strategically analyzes its ongoing primary research with investors to assist financial providers and advisors in understanding the Voice of the Investor.

About Millionaire Corner: Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner website ( provides information for investors about investors. With its Best Financial Advisors service, investors are able to search for financial and investment advisors to assist in growing their wealth.
Charts and summary insights available upon request.