Marketing for 401(k) Advisors in 2021
Chuck Hammond, Chief Digital Officer and Co-Founder at The 401(k) Study Group® discusses the importance of relationships to stay competitive in the 401(k) space in 2021.
Will the new year be as Zoom heavy as 2020? Will we continue to build relationships remotely and nourish the ones we have with video? Regardless of where you stand in the ‘optimist’ camp, there’s no denying that advisors have had to pivot substantially this year, to stay competitive and organized in an increasingly remote-first world.
For a peek into what trends the 401(k) Advisor marketplace can expect in 2021 we sat down with Chuck Hammond, known for coaching aspiring Advisor to build and grow their practices. Here’s what he had to say:
What would you say has been the biggest disruption to the 401(k)
marketplace in 2020?
The obvious disruption would certainly be the pandemic. Advisors spent the initial months spending time figuring out how to be in a personal business remotely. Now most Advisors have successfully navigated that and for good or bad have embraced it. The other issues that keeps rearing it’s ugly but unavoidable head is consolidation in the TPA and Record keeping arena.
Have you seen advisors adapt a more client-centric approach due to the pandemic, or are you seeing more advisors go on the offense to grow their business, and convert unhappy plan sponsors?
That is an interesting question. Most successful retirement plan-centric Advisors have always been client first. The difference is were they “Plan” facing or “Participant” facing. The last few months have propelled those Advisors to now be both, or at least dedicate staff and or resources to direct participant outreach on a systematic and predictable basis. As far as growth goes, it is about 50-50. Some did nothing and others ramped it up. The big difference is that the ones that ramped it up, will profit from that in the next 18-24 months.
Have you seen advisors adapt any innovative approaches to servicing nervous or unhappy plans sponsors due to the pandemic?
If you count Teams, Zoom and Google Meets as innovative then yes. There are a few other tools that Advisors have deployed to show value and to document their work. The space gets more competitive all the time. Keeping clients is just as important as finding new ones.
How can advisors adapt a 360’ approach to marketing and new client outreach?
Data is the key to this silo of the industry. It is exceptionally available, in some cases free. Now that being said 5500 databases are the most efficient. We recently deployed ForceManager 5500 and are looking forward to using more of the prospecting functionalities in 2021. We also spend a good bit of time using LinkedIn and emphasizing the importance of that and other digital platforms to augment that data and eventual marketing.
Advisor headcount shows steady growth, do you think it is a good time for consultants to branch into the retirement space and learn the 401(k) market?
There have been inflection points in my almost 25-year career for Advisors to enter the space. The challenge are the hurdles and the open dislike and onerous nature of ERISA.
That being said, yes. There is one caveat to that “yes”. They must be in it for the right reasons and understand the limits of their knowledge and finally understand and embrace the fact that ERISA is a team sport.
What tips do you have for an aspiring 401(k) advisor looking to bring in new plans or start a practice from scratch in 2021?
Not to repeat myself but the data is crucial. Tools like ForceManager 5500 are invaluable, inexpensive, and efficient. Understanding the hurdles, the sales cycle and building a team that can bolster your efforts. All of these are keys for aspiring Advisors.
What marketing trends do you predict for 2021?
I see Advisors using social media platforms for direct, personal outreach. I also see an increase in highly targeted and specific direct mail. I know that sounds pretty 1990 and it is. However people still send and receive mail. If done the right way it is a great method. Keep in mind, most Plan Sponsors need to be remided 12-18 times that you are in the business to help them.