Plan Design Consultants try to Kickstart 401(k) plans for employers

My friends at Plan Design Consultants have created a new program called KIC(k)START, which is an approach for them to garner more plans and help out the advisors they work with.

The programs offers 401(k) plans with safe harbor plan design. What’s unusual is that as a third party administrator (TPA), Plan Design Consultants waives the installation fee and offers a flat $1,000 fee, when the industry usually charges per head or by assets.

I contacted J.D. Carlson at Plan Design Consultants and asked him about the program. Carlson said that he was trying to find creative ways to help their advisor partners and they are going to try to utilize this program to grow their client base.

As for the elimination of the installation fee, Carlson said: “We wanted to create an incentive for start-up plans and make this thing really, really easy. So eliminating the one-time set-up costs was a no-brainer. The provisions for KIC(k)START are mostly pre-set with some choice in a few areas, this template approach minimizes our time and creates the opportunity to remove the install fee.”

As far as the flat fee, Carlson said this approach was best for the KIC(k)START program and he didn’t see this as something that will catch on in the industry as the new standard. “I’m not sure that flat fee is really the future of 401(k) Administration. I still believe that TPAs bring immense value and expertise when it comes to compliance and administration work. The beauty of 401(k) plan design is that there are so many options, so many different ways to build/design a plan, therefore one flat fee doesn’t really mesh well with 401(k) Admin. However, KIC(k)START is a creative approach that utilizes simplicity and the ability to take advantage of a low, flat fee structure”, said Carlson.

More information can be found at

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