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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Hourihan

Are Your 401(k) Clients at Risk? 5 Client Retention Strategies

By Rebecca Hourihan AIF, PPC

Nearly 1 out of 2 plan sponsors is actively looking for a new advisor.[1]

It’s been said that it costs 7x more to earn a new client than it does to retain a current one. As you implement your 2022 business plan, consider these 5 client retention strategies. These ideas could have a big impact on how your clients perceive the quality of your service, could increase loyalty and even produce inbound referrals.

Great Service

Regular meetings are the first and best way to ensure happy clients. From your retirement plan committee meetings to employee education, when you are in front of your clients your value is seen, heard and appreciated.

Approximately 40% of advisors meet with their plan sponsor clients quarterly and 33% meet annually,[2] making it important to make your meetings count.

Be prepared - Let them know how valuable they are by sending an agenda with meeting information and a thoughtful email ahead of time.

Be professional- Just because they are clients, it doesn't mean you don't have to impress them. Present organized, purposeful and informative information.

Be punctual - With more and more meetings switching to virtual platforms, being ready is more important than ever. To be respectful of everyone’s time, be there early, provide a 5-minute end-of-meeting announcement and be willing to adjust your material to allow for questions, if necessary and end on time.


Your clients want to stay informed, and you need to be their trusted source.


According to a Morningstar survey, 30% of clients prefer weekly emails from their advisor and 36% prefer to receive them monthly. This means that more than half of your clients want to hear from you at least once per month.

Email marketing is the #1 proven client retention strategy that still works. Within your emails, teach and train your clients. Show them step-by-step 401(k) best practices, share how-to plan sponsor guides and content that will engage, entertain and educate.

If you haven’t started a client retention email strategy, now is a great time.

Social Media

LinkedIn is the largest business-to-business social networking site in the world. On average, decision-makers spend 11 minutes per day scrolling and reading content.[3]

Two quick ideas to increase client retention and boost your social media strategy:

  1. Connect with all your clients

  2. Follow all their companies

When you post, now you have a larger distribution reach and another avenue for you to share important news with your clients.

Knowledge Sharing

Be a thought leader by creating content that shows your clients you know how to advise a retirement plan and that you have experience working with similar companies and have solved their challenges. You have several options to:

  • Verbally share → Podcast

  • Show and tell → Video

  • Visually express the concept → Infographic

  • Write about your experiences → Blog

  • Present and explain → Webinar

By sharing your knowledge, you solidify your trusted role and strengthen your relationship.

Aim to share one valuable resource per month and at a minimum, one per quarter.

Relevant and Timely Topics

Often times, we hear advisors express frustration because they have access to wealth management content; however, they do not have plan sponsor materials. So, they try to mix-and-match content that might appeal to employers.

Now, before you send/post/share content, take a step back and ask yourself, “will this information help or hurt my client relationship?” If your content doesn’t speak directly to their role as a plan sponsor, then don’t share it.

Think of it like this, do you read emails that don’t pertain to you? Would you pause on a social media post if the topic had nothing to do with you? Would you read an article that doesn’t interest you?

Of course not! The same is true for your clients.

Select topics that accentuate your retirement plan expertise and demonstrate acumen, such as fiduciary plan governance, new regulations, investment trends, total rewards programs, plan design education, financial wellness and around-the-corner changes. Some timely examples include:

  • ESG Funds

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • Lifetime Income Illustrations

Our inboxes are already cluttered. Sending an email just to send may actually hurt your client relationship in the long run because they will see information that doesn’t pertain to them, and they might think you don’t understand the challenges they face as a plan sponsor. Clients may start to wonder… are you the right retirement plan advisor for me? That could then open the door for other prospecting advisors to swoop in and steal your client – and we don’t want that.

Your digital communications should strengthen client bonds. By procuring interesting topics that speak directly to retirement plan issues, you prove that you understand what it means for them to be a plan sponsor.

Brand Reputation

When you have a high-quality brand, it can increase client loyalty, enhance perceived value in your services and position you as a leader.

On average, we are exposed to over 10,000 brands per day, which means that everyone is more selective about what we view and read. This is why, your brand should always represent your professionalism, values and mission.

Every interaction has the ability to increase confidence or chip away at your foundation of trust. This applies to all resources that could, would or should be viewed by your clients (e.g. website, email, social media, knowledge content). Therefore, they should experience your brand as both visually pleasing and well-written.

Another benefit of a quality brand reputation is that your clients are more likely to refer business to you.

Ask for Feedback

Everyone likes to feel listened to and appreciated. By asking your clients specific questions, you can establish a service and communication model that is right for them.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • How satisfied are you with the frequency of our meetings? Would you like to meet more? Less?

  • How would you like to meet? In-person? Video conferencing? Combination?

  • What retirement plan topics would you like to learn more about?

  • What are some of the financial topics your employees are interested in?

  • Is there anything we’re doing today that we can improve upon?

These questions pave the way for open dialogue. It will help to define your client servicing relationship and these insights will help you find and share the right types of retirement plan topics that your clients want to hear about.

Protect and Delight

You worked exceptionally hard to earn your clients, so let’s make sure you keep them.

Implement these 5 retention strategies to protect and delight your clients. By focusing on client retention, your business will experience more predictable cashflows and you can spend more time building quality and long-lasting relationships.

Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing!

About Us

401(k) Marketing is the modern marketing agency for the retirement plan industry. We are proud to support our clients through custom engagements, content marketing campaigns, sales material innovations, thought-leadership consulting, interactive workshops and speaking events. Our mission is to empower the retirement plan industry with high-quality marketing, ultimately inspiring Americans to become financially prepared for their future.

Retirement Plan Marketing is the solution for retirement plan advisors looking for an ongoing and scalable marketing process to generate awareness, streamline sales opportunities and earn more 401(k) business. This comprehensive, strategy driven marketing program includes digital content and sales material specifically designed to help retirement plan professionals attract the right decision makers.

[1] “2022 Plan Sponsor Attitudes.” Fidelity.

[2] “2022 Defined Contribution Industry Report.” ISSMEDIA. [3] “LinkedIn Statistics.” 99 Firms.


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