The Financial Times has announced its fifth batch of FT 401 top retirement plan advisors.

This year’s FT 401 advisors manage an average of $1.65 billion in defined contribution plan assets, up 31% from 2018.

Ignites Research, a sister publication of FA-IQ, attributes the increase in client assets to a combination of rising financial markets, organic growth and industry consolidation.

This year’s FT 401 advisors have an average of 20 years of experience with advising DC plans.

They have practices in 40 states across the country, including Washington D.C. The largest number of advisors are in California (38), followed by Texas (31) and Massachusetts (30).

Retirement plan sponsors have been demanding more services from advisors to help them with the design and implementation of their DC plans, spurring consolidation to gain economies of scale, according to Ignites Research.

This year’s FT 401 advisors cited managing the business of their advisory practices — including staffing and profitability — as their top challenge.

Around 38% of this year’s FT 401 advisors have at least $1 million in retirement assets, up from 33% from last year.

Just under half of the FT 401 advisors have added business through acquisition over the past three years, Ignites Research notes.

The average number of DC plan clients per FT 401 advisor rose to 84 this year from 74 in 2018.

Ignites Research has collaborated with the Financial Times on the annual FT 401 list since its launch in 2015.

To be included on the elite FT Top 401 list, qualified retirement plan advisors are scored on seven criteria: DC plan assets under management; DC plan growth; focus on the DC business; experience; advanced industry credentials; employee participation and compliance records.

The full FT 401 report with the full list of top retirement is available for viewing at this link.