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When financial markets tumbled in March, there was little panic among the investors in defined contribution retirement schemes such as 401(k) plans. Fidelity Investments, one of the largest administrators of DC plans, says that from late February to mid-May — by which time markets were recovering — just 7.4 per cent of the 25m retirement accounts it oversees even changed their mix of riskier and safer assets.

It seems that most employees held their nerve amid the stock market collapse and remained focused on long-term retirement investing aims, in part thanks to the support provided by the financial advisers who guide these DC plans. Their counsel, often offered through virtual meetings and telephone conversations, kept many investors from bailing out and missing the subsequent market rebound. “I think participants have learned to deal with volatility a little better,” says Harris Nydick, a founding partner of CFS Investment Advisory Services, of Totowa, New Jersey. Recently, he has even seen some employees increase their regular contributions to DC plans as markets have risen higher. 

Last year saw strong growth in the fortunes of many firms included in the FT 401, the Financial Times’s sixth annual list of top DC plan advisers in the US. FT 401 advisers managed an average of $2.01bn in DC plan assets across corporate, non-profit and government employers at the end of 2019. That is 22 per cent higher than the $1.65bn averaged in last year’s FT 401 listing thanks to more clients and rising financial markets in 2019, ahead of this year’s volatility induced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Anxiety among the employers sponsoring DC plans has also meant more demand for advice on retirement schemes. While some companies responded to this year’s events by temporarily suspending the matching contributions they make to employees’ retirement plans, 81 per cent of the plans advised by the FT 401 left those contributions unchanged. 

Even before the pandemic hit, companies knew that financial stress can hurt productivity and were putting more effort into helping workers with retirement and personal finance. As a result, more workplaces offer “financial wellness” programmes along with DC plans, intended to educate workers about saving for retirement, managing debt, and other basics of personal finance. 

The Employee Benefit Research Institute found that more than 70 per cent of employers already offer or are starting to offer such financial wellness programmes. These often include websites, apps, checklists and personal coaching for staff. Employees are now taking more advantage of these programmes than in previous years, possibly a side effect of the lockdowns necessitated by the pandemic. “This is the era of very little distraction. We didn’t have sports, socialising or movies, so people have time to focus on their finances,” says Stephen Oliver, founder of Manhattan Ridge Advisors.  

It can be hard to offer the apps and virtual meetings that come with helping implement these programmes on top of traditional services — which themselves have been complicated by the shift to remote working. 

While FT 401 advisers say they have had little problem maintaining existing client relationships, 85 per cent of them say the lack of in-person meetings has hurt their ability to meet prospects. It can be hard to offer the apps and virtual meetings that come with helping implement these programmes on top of traditional services.

As a result, the main challenge facing the FT 401 this year is acquiring new clients, cited by 46 per cent of advisers as their biggest concern. That edged out the pressure to lower fees, which was cited by 42 per cent of advisers as a challenge.

On the other hand, plan advisers have found that the need to embrace new ways of working has enabled them to hold more remote meetings with individual plan participants, both in groups and one-on-one. Some 94 per cent of FT 401 advisers expect to continue doing more remote meetings with investors even after the pandemic fades — including 30 per cent of advisers who say that at least one-quarter of those meetings will remain virtual. 

Geographical boundaries mean less and less to plan advisers, particularly the larger ones. The median adviser in this year’s list has two office locations, and one-quarter have three or more locations. That is to be expected when 78 per cent of the advisers work in teams.

This year’s FT 401 advisers hail from 41 states and Washington, DC. The FT 401 is listed state by state, and states with higher populations understandably have more advisers on the list. California leads the way with 47, followed by Texas with 36 and Massachusetts with 27. 

The methodology behind the FT 401 is explained fully at the foot of this list.

Financial Times 401 Top Retirement Plan Advisers by state
NameCompanyCityPlan segments served
Mega plans (>$500m)Large plans ($100m- $500m)Mid-size plans ($10m-$100m)Small and micro plans (<$10m)
Forehand, Lee E.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementDothanXX
Owen, Paul W.CAPTRUSTBirminghamXXXX
Williams, RennJSL Retirement Services GroupBirminghamXXX
Buckman, PerryBuckman & Corning Financial Strategies GroupScottsdaleXX
Corning, Nicole W.Buckman & Corning Financial Strategies GroupScottsdaleXX
DiGrazia, MichaelUBS Wealth ManagementPhoenixXXXX
Hacker, Christopher S.The Hacker GroupScottsdaleXX
Sobers, WilliamUBS Wealth ManagementPhoenixXX
McDonald, Don R.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementFort SmithXX
Thorpe, James R. (Rob)Qualified Plan AdvisorsLittle RockXXX
Balbuena, RodneySageView Advisory GroupPasadenaXXX
Bonelli, NatashaMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementWoodland HillsXX
Bonvechio, BrianMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementLos AngelesXXX
Bryson, Trent D.Bryson Wealth ManagementLong BeachXX
Chambers, Jon C.SageView Advisory GroupLafayetteXXXX
Chang, Kevin A.Genovese Burford & BrothersSacramentoXX
Clark, John M.Heffernan Retirement Services / LPL FinancialWalnut CreekXXXX
Costantini, LucianoSequoia Consulting GroupSan MateoXXXX
Costantini, PanfiloSequoia Consulting GroupSan MateoXXX
Delp, MarkYour Wealth EffectIrvineXX
Dufour, Damian J.Reilly Financial AdvisorsLa MesaXXX
Farrell, Curtis S.Financial Management NetworkMission ViejoXX
Fourcade, Renee M.UBS Wealth ManagementLos AngelesXXXX
Freismuth, ThomHUB InternationalSan DiegoXX
Gregory III, Paul N.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementCarmelXXX
Handler, GaryRaymond James & AssociatesBeverly HillsXXXX
Hocking, StevenUBS Wealth ManagementIrvineXX
Hopkins, Emily H.NFPAliso ViejoXXX
Hoppock, ToddNFPAliso ViejoXXXX
Huaman, AndreThree Bell CapitalLos AltosXXX
Jeskey, Jason S.GRP Financial CaliforniaSan ClementeXXX
Keck, KristinaWoodruff Sawyer / LPL FinancialSan FranciscoXXXX
Kjar, Steven P.Lockton Investment AdvisorsCampbellXXXX
Knapp, MollySequoia Consulting GroupSan MateoXXX
Laughton, MarkQuintes Financial ServicesSalinasXX
Learned, VincentNFPAliso ViejoXXXX
Ma, Yuxia (Marlynn)Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementPasadenaXX
Mammini, MikeMammini CompanySan DiegoXXXX
Matias, Lily AnnNFPAliso ViejoXXX
Palladino, John K.401(k) & 403(b) Fiduciary AdvisorsSan MateoXXX
Patrick, Jason ColinFiduciary AdvisorsNewport BeachXXX
Patton, RobertSageView Advisory GroupWoodsideXXXX
Raney, KrisWells Fargo AdvisorsEl SegundoXXX
Ray, Mark D.Praxis ConsultingSacramentoXXX
Roggenkamp, MarcGraystone ConsultingBeverly HillsXXXX
Sarna, Michele T.Beacon Pointe AdvisorsPalm DesertXXX
Shea, Jill B.NFPAliso ViejoXXX
Shiflet, WalkerMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementBeverly HillsXXXX
Spinner, HarlanUBS Private Wealth ManagementLos AngelesXXXX
Stewart, SolomonNFPAliso ViejoXXXX
Stinson, GarrettSageView Advisory GroupIrvineXXXX
Stover, RyanMarsh & McLennan AgencySan DiegoXXXX
Stowell, RaceMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementMill ValleyXXX
Tappin, Erik K.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementCarlsbadXXXX
Thibault, BlakeHeffernan Retirement Services / LPL FinancialWalnut CreekXXXX
Venuti, Christopher G.Graystone ConsultingWestlake VillageXXXX
White, NateTeros Advisors, a OneDigital CompanyLafayetteXXX
Andrew, RobertLockton Investment AdvisorsDenverXXXX
Gutrich, Mark M.Fi401k AdvisorsGreenwood VillageXX
Krusic, Tom A.ABG ConsultantsDenverXX
Larsen, Chad J.MRP, a division of HUB InternationalDenverXXXX
Nemmers, Daniel J.Lockton Investment AdvisorsDenverXXXX
Rosselle, JamesRMB CapitalDenverXXXX
Roth, Wayne H.SageView Advisory GroupLouisvilleXXX
Tonelli, Mark A.Sheridan Road Financial, a division of HUB InternationalDenverXXX
Angelone, ElizabethMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementGreenwichXX
Baroncini, Jr., Edward A.Excel Wealth Management / LPL FinancialRocky HillXX
Berkman, Brett S.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementGreenwichXX
Brown, Dennis M.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementFairfieldXXXX
Callahan, Michael E.Edu4Retirement / Cetera AdvisorsSouthingtonXX
Foster, ChristopherProcyon PartnersSheltonXXXX
Horton, Barnaby W.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementHartfordXX
Juliano, Joseph M.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementFairfieldXXX
Kral, Christopher J.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementFairfieldXXX
Lasko, MattUBS Private Wealth ManagementStamfordXXXX
Leone, Gregory J.Georgetown Financial Group / Cetera Advisor NetworksGeorgetownXXX
Levin, MichaelGallagherWindsorXXX
Mendoza, Greg F.UBS Wealth ManagementHartfordXXXX
Tuzza, Jr., Robert S.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementFairfieldXXXX
Pressler, Eric C.N1 AdvisorsNewarkXXX
Carter, MurrayJanney Montgomery ScottWashingtonXXX
Drew, CharlesMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementWashingtonXX
Forrester, Mary AnneJanney Montgomery ScottWashingtonXXX
Bailey, Eric W.CAPTRUSTTampaXXX
Bastin, Thomas B.NFPWestonXXX
Cammarata, RossUBS Wealth ManagementFort LauderdaleXX
Casanueva, Dominic J.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementLakewood RanchXXXX
DiGiacomo, DanCAPTRUSTLake MaryXXX
Elobt, KeolaWest Point Business GroupJacksonvilleXXX
Erb, Jr., James L.James L. Erb & AssociatesTampaXX
Fine, Gregg L.Lockton Investment AdvisorsPembroke PinesXXXX
Garnett, Jr., BlantonGarnett Retirement Group / LPL FinancialSt. PetersburgXX
Hayes, JamieNFPMaitlandXXXX
Larsen, Bradley L.NFPStuartXXX
Letaw, Ronald A.MRPATampaXXX
Machlin, Roger S.Northwestern MutualTampaXX
Mehta, ManishUBS Private Wealth ManagementOrlandoXXX
Montgomery, David M.Fidelis Fiduciary ManagementTampaXXX
Montgomery, W. MichaelMontgomery Retirement Plan AdvisorsTampaXXX
Orick, Sean A.Retirement Partner AdvisorsSt. PetersburgXX
Petrone, JeffreySageView Advisory GroupWest Palm BeachXXXX
Senderowitz, Phillip N.Strategic Retirement PartnersMaitlandXXX
Thagard, Steven M.Northwestern MutualOrlandoXX
Brinson, ClayNorthwestern MutualAtlantaXXXX
Galvis, Alvaro A.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementAlpharettaXX
Gignilliat, Harris M.UBS Wealth ManagementAtlantaXXX
Griffin, DavidAtlanta Retirement Partners / LPL FinancialAtlantaXXX
Hansen, Eric H.Hartmann Astor Investment Consulting / LPL FinancialSuwaneeXXX
Harbour, AndrewGraystone ConsultingAtlantaXXX
Kane, Michael M.Plan Sponsor Consultants / LPL FinancialAlpharettaXXXX
Melcher, Evan B.CAPTRUSTAlpharettaXXXX
Pigg, Chad A.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementAtlantaXXX
Sauerman, Jr., Richard C.NFPAtlantaXXX
St.Clair, JonathanSageView Advisory GroupAtlantaXXXX
Lum, David W.SageView Advisory GroupHonoluluXXX
Courtright, PatrickThe Campbell Courtright Group of Raymond JamesBoiseXXX
Backe, NickBacke Page GroupCrystal LakeXX
Beer, Amalia (Molly)GallagherRolling MeadowsXXXX
Bjork, Sean C.Bjork Asset Management / GRP FinancialNorthbrookXXX
Cordova, RichardAssurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency CompanySchaumburgXXX
Coyner, Paul R.UBS Wealth ManagementNapervilleXXX
Embree, PaulEMBREE FINANCIAL GroupChicagoXX
Fiumara, L. RitaUBS Wealth ManagementChicagoXXX
Froman, Jeffrey R.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementDeer ParkXXX
Gelb, Jordan M.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementNorthbrookXXX
Gottlieb, BenjaminMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementSchaumburgXXX
Morris, DouglasLockton Investment AdvisorsChicagoXXXX
Novak, Luke J.Rothschild Investment CorporationChicagoXXX
O'Brien, Robert D.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementChicagoXXX
O'Shaughnessy, JimSheridan Road Financial, a division of HUB InternationalNorthbrookXXXX
Peluse, Daniel J.Wintrust Retirement Benefits AdvisorsChicagoXXX
Ratay, MarkMorgan Stanley Wealth ManagementLisleXXX
Reagan, ChrisSageView Advisory GroupChicagoXXX
Rutler, FredLockton Investment AdvisorsChicagoXXX
Smith, Michael K.Insight Financial Partners / LPL FinancialCrystal LakeXX
Valeo, SamMorgan Stanley Wealth ManagementOak BrookXXX
Williams, Charles P.FinspireSchaumburgXXX
Brunton, EricMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementIndianapolisXXXX
Chillemi, Daniel P.UBS Wealth ManagementIndianapolisXX
Denny, Andrew C.Shepherd FinancialCarmelXX
Drake, W. BrianNorthwestern MutualGreenwoodXX
Harbron, Brendon C.UBS Wealth ManagementIndianapolisXX
Masterson, JohnCAPTRUSTChestertonXX
Matis, Joseph M.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementIndianapolisXXX
Mayer, Thomas L.Shepherd FinancialCarmelXXXX
Robison, James D.Strategic Retirement PartnersIndianapolisXXX
Stolle, MattMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementIndianapolisXXX
Sylvester, AlexShepherd FinancialCarmelXXX
Wylam, Steven M.Shepherd FinancialCarmelXXX
Gredys, Keith J.Kidder AdvisersCliveXX
Shimp, AndrewCAPTRUSTWest Des MoinesXXXX
Lillis, Patrick W.Retirement Plan AnalyticsLeawoodXXX
Morris, VincentBukaty Companies Financial Services, a OneDigital CompanyOverland ParkXXXX
Pacer, David G.InfinitasOverland ParkXXXX
Recker, DonCreative PlanningOverland ParkXXX
Rink, RyanTwo West AdvisorsOverland ParkXXX
Ungashick, MarkoTwo West AdvisorsOverland ParkXXX
Backert, TonyBairdLouisvilleXXX
Mercer, Jr., Charles (Todd)Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementLouisvilleXXX
Bush, AndyHorizon Financial Group / Cetera AdvisorsBaton RougeXX
Dupré, Marcel J.NFPNew OrleansXXX
Breton, Jennifer L.Lebel & HarrimanFalmouthXXXX
Carew, Stephen J.BGA Retirement AdvisorsLewistonXX
Pratico, Michael S.CAPTRUSTFalmouthXXX
Walker, A.J.Guidance Point Retirement ServicesPortlandXXX
Assaley, Alexander G.AFS 401(k) Retirement ServicesBethesdaXXX
Espinoza, JessicaNFPBethesdaXXXX
Gimenez, EduardoRaffa Retirement Services / LPL FinancialRockvilleXX
Godfrey, PeterFiduciary Plan AdvisorsBaltimoreXXX
Hoffman, Brett J.The Insurance Exchange, a division of HUB InternationalRockvilleXXX
Kotler, Robert J.B.RCM&DTowsonXXX
LaGreca, Russell M.Graystone ConsultingBaltimoreXXX
O'Connell, Michael V.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementHunt ValleyXX
Stout, JaniaFiduciary Plan AdvisorsBaltimoreXXX
Ward, C. RussellHarbor Investment AdvisoryLuthervilleXXX
Wilson, Chad J.Fiduciary Plan AdvisorsBaltimoreXXX
Basse, PamNFPNorwellXXX
Bayliss, AndrewMarsh & McLennan AgencyBostonXXX
Ciovacco, PeterGraystone ConsultingMiddletonXXX
Clayman, David M.Twelve Points Retirement AdvisorsConcordXX
Cleary, Andrew C.SFP WealthWellesleyXX
Dimitriou, StevenMayflower AdvisorsBostonXXXX
Dulac, NoelRetirement Fiduciary GroupAndoverXXX
Entwistle, BertWebster Bank / LPL FinancialBostonXX
Federico, Francesca E.Twelve Points Retirement AdvisorsConcordXXX
Forkey, MarkSageView Advisory GroupBostonXXXX
Foster, Mark M.SageView Advisory GroupBostonXXX
Hammond, AlfredGraystone ConsultingMiddletonXXX
Hoffman, Thomas E.KAF Financial AdvisorsBraintreeXXX
Johnson, DouglasSummit Financial, a division of HUB InternationalWilmingtonXXX
Karam, StephenKaram Financial Group / LPL FinancialFall RiverXXX
Karelitz, Jonathan B.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementWellesleyXX
LeSage, EricRetirement Fiduciary GroupAndoverXXX
McGarry, Sean C.Rockland TrustHanoverXXX
McLaughlin, MatthewGraystone ConsultingMiddletonXXX
Navarro, JasonNew England Wealth ManagementDanversXXX
Price, JonathanMorgan Stanley Wealth ManagementWellesleyXX
Rossano, BrianMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementBeverlyXXXX
Traino, Jason M.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementMiddletonXXX
Tremblay, NeilCoastal Capital Group / EBS Financial AdvisorsDanversXXX
Tuxbury, Scott D.Sapers & WallackNewtonXXX
Vacheron, PeterIBG Financial PartnersFoxboroXXX
Vierra, Jr., Roger F.UBS Wealth ManagementRocklandXXXX
Agbay, Anthony D.The Agbay GroupTroyXXX
Danek, Scott M.Equanimity Wealth Management / Cetera Advisor NetworksEast LansingXX
Fitzgerald, Jessica S.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementRochesterXXX
Hammond, Kimberly LynnMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementMuskegonXXX
Hau, Errol A.CAPTRUSTClarkstonXXXX
Horlings, JosephPearlStreet Investment Management of StifelGrand RapidsXXXX
Howell, BrettMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementGrand RapidsXXX
Kersjes, ShawnPearlStreet Investment Management of StifelGrand RapidsXXXX
Kozemchak, Michael W.Institutional Investment Consulting / LPL FinancialBloomfield HillsXXX
Lepore II, Mario A.UBS Wealth ManagementBirminghamXX
Pinter, BradStonebridge Financial GroupGrand RapidsXXX
Pogodzinski, CaseyCAPTRUSTClarkstonXXX
Wernette, Gerald J.Rehmann FinancialFarmington HillsXXXX
Adams, James K.Voya Financial AdvisorsBloomingtonXX
Ballin, Jessica401k Plan Professionals / GRP FinancialEdinaXXX
Boutwell, RyanUSI Consulting GroupMinnetonkaXXX
Connell, JoeSikich FinancialMaple GroveXXXX
Coole, RyanWheeler AssociatesDuluthXX
Dahlof, RossChristensen GroupEden PrairieXXX
Erpelding, Michael M.Erpelding Wealth ManagementEdinaXX
Gratton, JeffreySageView Advisory GroupWayzataXXXX
Jacobs, David M.Jacobs FinancialSt. CloudXX
Milless, MitchMarsh & McLennan AgencyMinneapolisXXX
Behlen, WadeWealthPLAN Partners - Feltz WealthPLANOmahaXX
Fay, PatrickSilverStone Asset Management, a HUB International companyOmahaXXX
Sarno, FreddieMorgan Stanley Wealth ManagementLas VegasXXXX
Cunha, Stephen M.RetirementCFOHamptonXX
Pimental, DanAlignment Financial GroupExeterXX
Scott, StevenRSG Advisory / GRP FinancialPortsmouthXXX
Ablahani, Joseph C.Capital BenefitsFairfieldXX
Bojovski, GoranMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementIselinXXXX
Dimino, SteveRBC Wealth ManagementRed BankXX
Goerner, ChadUBS Wealth ManagementPrincetonXXXX
Greenleaf, JamieCafaro GreenleafRed BankXXXX
Gsell, BruceMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementIselinXXXX
Marchiano, Michael D.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementMorristownXX
Marsh, Gregory J.Bridgehaven Fiduciary PartnersWarrenXXX
Nydick, HarrisCFS Investment Advisory ServicesTotowaXX
Oliver, Stephen A.Manhattan Ridge Advisors / First Allied SecuritiesBedminsterXX
Pascazio, AnthonyReedmark AdvisorsSomervilleXXXX
Paumi, DamienNisivoccia Wealth AdvisorsMt. ArlingtonXX
Puckett, StevenGateway Retirement ConsultingWestfieldXXX
Scorzafava, ToddEagle Rock Wealth ManagementEast HanoverXXX
Sheppard, BrentCadence Financial ManagementMarltonXX
Simchowitz, Stuart M.RMR Wealth BuildersTeaneckXX
Famiglietta, KellyCharles Stephen and CompanyAlbuquerqueXX
Bogner, H. SteveTreasury PartnersNew YorkXXX
Candella, TedMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementNew YorkXXX
Cunningham, Jr., John A.Alliant Retirement Consulting / Cetera Advisor NetworksNew YorkXX
D'Aiutolo, PaulUBS Wealth ManagementRochesterXXXX
Delaney, BarbaraSS/RBAPearl RiverXXXX
Detterick, JimGraystone ConsultingNew YorkXXX
Gutkin, ToddMorgan Stanley Wealth ManagementNew YorkXXX
Hinderstein, David S.Strategic Retirement Group, a OneDigital CompanyWhite PlainsXXXX
Lander, Ellen R.Renaissance Benefit Advisors GroupNew YorkXXX
Mahoney, KevinThe Mahoney Group of Raymond JamesWest NyackXXX
O'Toole III, Michael J.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementClifton ParkXXX
Paris, Michael R.Paris International CorporationGreat NeckXXX
Pastolove, CraigMorgan Stanley Wealth ManagementNew YorkXXX
Santucci, Thomas J.Gateway InvestmentsGarden CityXXX
Scherzer, RobertPensionmark Financial GroupNew YorkXXX
Schwamb, Richard S.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementJerichoXX
Smith, Eric W.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementRochesterXX
Tevens, Todd M.Lawley Retirement AdvisorsBuffaloXXX
Zaman, AadilWall Street Alliance GroupNew YorkX
Anderson, MikaelMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementCharlotteXXXX
Eskamani, ShaunCAPTRUSTRaleighXXXX
Jones, Todd L.CAPTRUSTRaleighXXXX
Kelly, KathleenCompass Financial Partners / LPL FinancialGreensboroXXXX
Marriott, PeterNFPCharlotteXX
McDade, IanMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementCharlotteXXX
Riggins, Randall E.NFPCharlotteXXX
Schultheiss, JonathonGate City AdvisorsGreensboroXXX
Shuford II, Gary E.NFPCharlotteXXX
Simonson, ThomasLockton Investment AdvisorsCharlotteXXXX
Strickland, Jon E.CAPTRUSTRaleighXXXX
Strodel, James W.CAPTRUSTCharlotteXXX
Thomas, Steven L.Linden Thomas & CompanyCharlotteX
Timmerman, Todd E.Retirement Plan AnalyticsCharlotteXXXX
Cox, Benjamin M.PNC Institutional Asset ManagementCincinnatiXX
Duggan, TonyMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementCincinnatiXXXX
Gaertner, DanielUBS Wealth ManagementWestlakeXXX
Gheen, Michael J.Oswald Financial / GRP FinancialClevelandXXX
Handorf, JoelGraystone ConsultingCincinnatiXX
Kreinest, ChristaHAUSER Retirement SolutionsCincinnatiXXX
Kulchar, David M.Oswald Financial / GRP FinancialClevelandXXX
Rinehart, KenUBS Wealth ManagementCincinnatiXXX
Robertson, Thomas G.Graystone ConsultingColumbusXXX
Sprenkle, ChrisMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementCincinnatiXXXX
Stacy, BenMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementCincinnatiXXXX
Stibich, Jr., Paul R.CAPTRUSTAkronXXXX
Vordemesche, ChrisGraystone ConsultingCincinnatiXXX
Wyatt, Thomas D.Lifetime Financial GrowthColumbusXX
Daley, ErikMultnomah GroupPortlandXXX
Schlanger, Jed S.The Commerce Company / Raymond JamesPortlandXX
Ulmer, JoshuaGraystone ConsultingPortlandXXX
Aguirre, Christian A.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementDoylestownXXX
Catanella, Brian A.UBS Wealth ManagementPhiladelphiaXXXX
Cross, Janel M.Align Retirement Plan AdvisorsLancasterXX
Dougherty, Timothy J.Financial GuideHorshamXXX
Dugery, AndrewWealth Advisory GroupBerwynXX
Edwards, JimCAPTRUSTAllentownXXX
Forcino, Geoffrey F.Kathmere Capital ManagementKing of PrussiaXX
Golen, ZacharyBroad Street FinancialBala CynwydXXX
Hageney, James G.Centurion, a Marsh & McLennan Agency CompanyKing of PrussiaXXXX
Halle, Daniel L.P&A Group Retirement Plan ServicesPittsburghXXX
Kline, JeffreyStonebridge Financial GroupWormleysburgXX
Kulick, Jr., Christopher D.CAPTRUSTDoylestownXXXX
Malz, Michael E.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementAllentownXXX
Mashack-Behney, Tara L.Conrad SiegelHarrisburgXXXX
Myers, ScottMorgan Stanley Wealth ManagementBlue BellXXX
Schaffer, Paul H.CAPTRUSTDoylestownXXXX
Wertheim, ScottCAPTRUSTDoylestownXXXX
Williams, Christopher C.PNC Institutional Asset ManagementPittsburghXX
Wolfe, Noel J.Morgan Stanley Wealth ManagementBlue BellXXXX
Worrell, James L.Strategic Retirement PartnersProvidenceXXX
Colburn, Todd M.Northwestern MutualNashvilleXX
Dickens, Brad S.Janney Montgomery ScottFranklinXXXX
Glasgow, Steven W.Janney Montgomery ScottFranklinXXXX
Grant, WalterAegis Retirement Group / LPL FinancialMemphisXX
Kinney, Julie A.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementMemphisXXX
Lyday, James A.Pensionmark Financial GroupBrentwoodXXXX
Webster, Doug A.SageView Advisory GroupKnoxvilleXXXX
Able, GlennLockton Investment AdvisorsDallasXXXX
Bielik, DennisTCG AdvisorsAustinXXX
Bump, LaurenGallagherHoustonXXXX
Calao, JoeUBS Wealth ManagementWacoXX
Cervantes, Christopher D.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementFriscoXX
Coelho, Michael A.SageView Advisory GroupAustinXXXX
Coughran, Joshua J.Invest TitanFulshearXX
Ellisor, Darrell W.Peak Financial Group, a division of HUB InternationalHoustonXXX
Ellsworth, Stephen H.BairdHoustonXX
Jamail, ChristopherTrusted Capital Group (TCG)AustinXXX
Jerding, MickMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementHoustonXXX
Kading, ToddLeafHouse FinancialAustinXXXX
Kallus, Daniel J.NFPHoustonXXX
Kaylor-Flink, AllisonNFPAustinXXX
League, StacyPlanWise Retirement StrategiesAustinXX
Livingston, John L.NFPDallasXXX
Locke, Ramona Z.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementDallasXX
Maresh, MichaelCAPTRUSTAustinXXXX
Matustik, DebbiePensionmark AustinAustinXXX
Moore, Janine J.Peak Financial Group, a division of HUB InternationalHoustonXXX
Netoskie, Neil C.Keystone Retirement & Insurance Advisors / LPL FinancialHoustonXX
Nietenhoefer, ChrisMerrill Lynch Wealth ManagementFort WorthXXX
O'Connor, TeresaVoya Financial AdvisorsThe WoodlandsXX
Peterson, Jr., Donald P.VisionPoint Advisory Group / LPL FinancialDallasXXXX
Pickett, John A.CAPTRUSTDallasXXX
Pruitt, KimberlyNFPAustinXXXX
Salyer III, W. DeanPensionmark Financial GroupGarden RidgeXXX
Smith, MeganUBS Private Wealth ManagementDallasXXXX
Stack, JoePensionmark Financial GroupAllenXXX
Steves, Scott T.GallagherHoustonXXXX
Stroope, CourtneyLockton Investment AdvisorsDallasXXXX
Test, DavidNorthwestern MutualDallasXX
Vaughan, RobertUBS Wealth ManagementThe WoodlandsXXXX
Weaver, NealLeafHouse FinancialAustinXXXX
Whitten, TravisCAPTRUSTDallasXXXX
Zelop, Walter J.Raymond JamesHoustonXXX
Anderson, KimSoltis Investment AdvisorsSt. GeorgeXXXX
Dall, Corby401k Advisors IntermountainSandyXXXX
Jensen, WesABG ConsultantsMidvaleXX
Moyes, James D.RedStone Advisors, a Pensionmark FirmLehiXXX
Solomon, LarryABG ConsultantsSalt Lake CityXX
Welch, KirkMRP, a division of HUB InternationalSandyXXXX
Dubie, ChristopherMorgan Stanley Wealth ManagementColchesterXXX
Andraos, Khalil S.Merrill Lynch Wealth ManagementRestonXX
Aylward, Michael G.RBC Wealth ManagementMcLeanXXX
Bethel, Lee V.Comprehensive Benefit Services / LPL FinancialAlexandriaXX
Broaddus, ScottIrongate Capital AdvisorsRichmondXX
Clark, Colin M.Washington Financial Group / LPL FinancialMcLeanXX
DeNoyior, Joseph F.Washington Financial Group / LPL FinancialMcLeanXXX
Hoffer, J. CoryHermitage Wealth ManagementRichmondXX
Hope, Richard L.Washington Financial Group / LPL FinancialMcLeanXX
Keenan, John P.Signature Estate & Investment AdvisorsTysons CornerXX
Leonard, TrippIrongate Capital AdvisorsRichmondXX
Maulfair, JimAHT Retirement ServicesLeesburgXXXX
Rogers, KennethCAPTRUSTHarrisonburgXXX
Schmitt, Barry V.CAPTRUSTRichmondXXX
Shanahan, TedBlueprint Financial GroupRestonXX
Shipley, CourtenayRetirement PlanologyAlexandriaXXX
Stanley, Craig M.Summit Group of VirginiaVirginia BeachXXX
Strange, AllanJanney Montgomery ScottRichmondXXXX
Bosch, JerryRBC Wealth ManagementSeattleXXXX
Fisher, NathanFisher Investments 401(k) SolutionsCamasXX
Reinhart, Edward C.Capital Advisors Wealth ManagementYakimaXX
Roland, Chad A.PacNorth Retirement Group / LPL FinancialSpokane ValleyXXX
Hill, Michael D.Graystone ConsultingCharlestonXXX
Berry, Keith A.M3 FinancialWauwatosaXXX
Driscoll, MichaelSheridan Road Financial, a division of HUB InternationalMilwaukeeXXXX
Lanser, Bruce G.UBS Wealth ManagementMilwaukeeXXX
Parks, Thomas W.Graystone ConsultingMilwaukeeXXXX
Powers, TonyKerberRose Retirement Plan ServicesShawanoXX
Sherman, ScottGallagherBrookfieldXXXX
Spaeth, Jerod T.Spaeth Barrett GroupMilwaukeeXXX
Wisialowski, TinaMorgan Stanley Wealth ManagementMilwaukeeXXXX

The methodology

The FT 401 aims to provide a list of elite professionals who specialise in advising US employers on their defined contribution plans. The advisers were assessed according to quantifiable data, using the following methodology.

The Financial Times and Ignites Research, the FT’s sister company, contacted large US brokerages, independent advisers and other wealth managers to identify qualified applicants. Our research partner, Broadridge Financial Solutions, provided data that helped to identify advisers specialising in serving DC plans, including 401(k) plans and other DC accounts.

Applicants were required to advise at least $75m in DC plan assets and have at least 20 per cent of their client assets in DC plans. The qualifying advisers completed a questionnaire about their practice, and we added that information to our own research. 

The formula the FT uses to grade advisers is based on six broad factors and calculates a numeric score for each adviser.

The factors were:

  • DC assets under management (AUM). This signals experience and success in managing money in 401(k) programmes and other DC plans.

  • Growth rate in DC plan business. Measured by changes in both DC plan clients and in assets, growth is a proxy for performance, client retention and ability to draw new clients. 

  • Specialisation in the DC business. This is measured by what percentage of the overall assets managed by the adviser are in DC plans and how that concentration has changed. 

  • Experience advising DC plans. This tracks years spent managing DC plan assets through different economic and market environments.

  • Industry certifications (CFP, AIF, etc). These show technical knowledge that is particularly important in the complicated DC plan industry.

  • Compliance record. A string of client complaints can signal potential problems.

Among the top factors in our scoring, DC plan assets accounted for roughly 60 to 65 per cent of each adviser’s score, on average. Another 14 to 20 per cent of the score derived from the growth in the adviser’s DC business (as measured in both DC assets and number of DC plans advised). 

We present the FT 401 as an elite group because each adviser takes a different approach to their practices and so ranking these elite advisers from 1 to 401 would be misleading.

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