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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Hourihan

What it Takes to Create an Exceptional Onboarding Experience for Your New 401(k) Clients

Updated: Jul 9

When was the last time you met with a prospect and their fiduciary files were flawless? You know, meticulously labeled file folders, color-coded tabs, and impeccably detailed meeting notes. Perhaps once or twice? On the flip side, when was the last time you encountered a fiduciary, whose files were a blend of trade secrets, inexplicably saved URL links, and documents buried deep within email communications? It's like stumbling upon a digital treasure trove where chaos meets dysfunctional order.

It's no wonder that when you are the organized hero, you can guide the prospect toward a solid fiduciary path. It all starts with you. Here are a few examples of how you can elevate the initial 30 days of a client relationship and enhance the onboarding process. These straightforward steps can help pave a clear path for bolstering client confidence and laying the groundwork for fostering a lifelong client advocate.

Establish an Agenda

Outline the key goals, tasks, and milestones for the first month. This provides both you and the client with a clear roadmap, ensuring everyone is aligned on what needs to be accomplished.

Set Clear Plan Goals

To ensure that the retirement plan aligns with the client's expectations, it's crucial to discuss their goals and objectives. Conducting a discovery session can provide valuable insights into the client's current retirement plan, goals, and most importantly—advisor and plan expectations.

An onboarding questionnaire or factfinder tool aids in customizing your approach and services to meet the unique needs of each client. When your new client answers thoughtful questions such as "What does plan success look like to you?" or "In a year from now, what changes would you like to see implemented?" they are giving you the keys to a successful relationship.

Preschedule Meetings

Setting a schedule for regular check-in meetings keeps the client updated and provides a forum to address any questions or concerns they might have. By establishing a regular meeting cadence, you demonstrate your professionalism and ongoing commitment to your new client. Be sure to leverage the information you gathered with the onboard questionnaire to highlight how you are making progress on their specific objectives and expectations. 

Reviewing the Current Plan

A thorough review of an existing retirement plan can reveal its strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the current plan is crucial especially if the decision is to transition to a new 401(k) recordkeeper. This enables you to identify potential areas for improvement and develop solutions to address pain points.

As you know, retirement plan transitions can be overwhelming due to the involvement of numerous individuals, companies, new setup processes, and the significant amount of time required. However, by setting clear expectations, providing a timeline, and guiding the client through each step, advisors can reduce stress and frustration, ultimately providing a sense of confidence in the process.

This could include a sample transition plan and an explanation of common industry terms. For example, define who a recordkeeper is, explain what a blackout notice entails, provide instructions on setting up a fiduciary file, and offer a high-level overview of what to expect.

Make the Connection

Each member of your team should send a LinkedIn connection request to your new clients. This personalized approach does more than just make the client feel valued; it expands your social media network and ensures that your important updates appear in their newsfeed.

As advisors, you realize that plan sponsors are a diverse group of people and have different communication preferences. LinkedIn serves as an effective social news source, especially with older Millennial HR directors who are savvy social media users.

So, embrace the power of LinkedIn today, and let it enhance your client relationships, keep you top of mind, and showcase your modern approach to financial services. Remember, every connection made is a step towards nurturing your future client base.

The First 30-Days: A Pivotal Period

The first 30 days of a client relationship are critical. This period is for setting the tone for all future interactions and cultivating a positive client experience. The first month of onboarding should focus on building trust and understanding with clients. This involves helping them understand their plan, answering any questions they have, and setting expectations for future interactions.

Keep Earning the Business

Winning a new 401(k) client is no small feat. It’s a clear reflection of your competitive advantage, industry knowledge, and your ability to inspire trust. But as we all know, in the world of 401(k) plans, signing on the dotted line is just the beginning. Now it's time to deliver that top-notch service you promised during those finalist meetings.

Your new clients trust you. It's imperative that their first experience—the onboarding process—is nothing short of exceptional.

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.



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