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Breaking News: National Association of Plan Advisors to Launch New Research, Data Arm

Inside NAPA

The National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA) has launched the NAPA Advisor Research Institute (NARI), a new and unique research arm dedicated to the retirement plan advisor industry, the organization announced Tuesday. 

NARI is a strategic partnership between NAPA and the Retirement Leadership Forum (RLF) with a mission to provide new insights into retirement-focused advisor practices and their product and service preferences.

"Retirement plan advisor research is surprisingly scarce," American Retirement Association CEO and NAPA Executive Director Brian Graff said when asked about the partnership. "Too often, industry leaders rely on speculation and anecdotes as they work to understand the advisor community."

“We’re forming NARI to fill an industry gap in the available research and data,” Graff explained. “Ultimately, the objective is to help advisors and their teams improve their practices and do a better job in terms of working with plan sponsors and participants.”

He added that the research will focus on “what’s working, what’s not working, and how we can help the industry identify best practices in various capacities, including how they run their firms and manage their relationships with sponsors, advisors, and service providers.”

Calling it a natural fit, he noted RLF’s long and distinguished track record in the retirement plan industry, specifically pointing to co-founders Wallace Blankenbaker and Suzanne Raffaele’s expertise and experience. 

“We’re excited to be working with Wallace and Suzanne, recognize their expertise, and feel really optimistic about what the future holds in this area,” Graff added.

Started in 2017, RLF creates high-quality research and events and counts many of the top recordkeepers, asset managers, and advisory firms among its members.

“We are thorough and do a lot of deep analysis,” Blankenbaker explained. “Our process is slightly different, a mix of qualitative and quantitative research. We spend a lot of time talking to folks to get to the ‘color’ between the data, which will complement NAPA well.”

“NAPA has access to over 95% of all the plan specialists in the industry, an unparalleled advisor network to tap into to fill the gap, making sample sizes and underlying data that much stronger,” Raffaele added. 

The subscription-based service will deliver research reports quarterly—February, April, September, and November—beginning in 2024. NARI will augment the reports with a “voice of the advisor” newsletter sharing early research insights. 

True to form, NARI will “research the research” and solicit advisor feedback about essential topics on which to focus. Based on current feedback, 2024’s research will focus on:

  • Developing the next-generation leadership
  • Service model scale and efficiency
  • The convergence of retirement, wealth and health
  • Attracting and retaining top talent

Industry professionals and organizations can use the research to:

  • Create products and services that are aligned with advisors’ evolving, real-world need
  • Improve advisor segmentation to target best-fit advisors 
  • Build strategies to serve the next generation of retirement advisors
  • Identify characteristics of advisors that lead to the highest levels of growth and profitability

For additional information about NARI, click here