NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Higher education investors expect a higher standard of service – and get it. While some financial advisors still make occasional house calls to wealthy investors, if they cater to a campus crowd, you'll quite likely find them frequently on-site and at hand. And that extra attention might contribute to a higher success rate for investors in the academic world.
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On-site financial advisors are routine for higher education institutions, according to a Transamerica study. Most private institutions (59%) have retirement plan advisors on campus – even smaller colleges and universities with fewer than 5,000 eligible employees (58%), as well as those with multiple investment vendors (60%).
On-site advice, combined with higher than average contribution levels, has helped higher education institutions make "significant strides to improve the retirement security of plan participants," according to the study. On average, participants defer 13.4% of their pay to defined contribution plans. The report focuses on institutions that offer either a 403(b) or Roth 403(b) plan, which represents the vast majority (96%) of available investment vehicles at higher education institutions.
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And while the colleges and universities seem to get advanced service, the demand is growing ever stronger. 42% of the institutions surveyed currently use an advisor or consultant, and the trend is expected to grow by 10% over the next year.
Advisors offer a wide range of services for the institutions and their participants, including selecting investment options (58%), monitoring those investment options (47%), assisting with plan design (42%), developing the plan's investment policy and selecting vendors (36%), as well as reviewing plan compliance (33%).
"Advisors and consultants are powerful allies in retirement plan management," said Brodie Wood, vice president and national practice leader of not-for-profit for Transamerica Retirement Solutions. "By increasing the use of advisors, higher education institutions can continue to effectively navigate the many changes taking place regarding retirement plans."
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet