I had a friend of mine who was an advisor who was lamenting about the changing environment of the retirement plan business as certain providers become larger and offering plain vanilla services in terms of administration and/or investment services.
This advisor sees the consolidation in the industry as a bad thing for his business. I’m the contrarian and when he sees challenges, I see opportunity. I see an industry that might become plain vanilla, I see that being chocolate isn’t bad. I think there is enough plan sponsors out there in the marketplace to be unique and different and stand out amongst the herd.
When challenged by a larger competition, I think it’s important to see what you do and what is unique and lets you stand out. This is how I saw myself when I started my own ERISA practice or even when I decided to start my own conferences. I looked at what the competition was doing and I decided the best chance you stand out was doing something unique and appetizing for clients. If other ERISA attorneys were charging by the hour, I would charge a flat fee. If the other conferences had high sponsorship fees and limited commercial opportunities, I was going to offer something else.
Again, there are enough plans out there that you can be chocolate or even strawberry and be successful in the retirement plan business.