guideline.com for small business 401K?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
fpricke1
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 3:07 pm

Guideline 401k

Post by fpricke1 » Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:59 am

We are a small business (14 employees) that started January 2016 and are trying to implement a 401k for start of 2017. We decided to go with Betterment for Business due to the low fees combined with the general robo investing advice available. Unfortunately, due to high demand they are not taking any new Plans at this time.

They recommended Employee Fiduciary and a company called Guideline. Ive looked into EF and while I really like the platform I would like there to be a little more investing direction for employees, electronic notices and shift some of the fiduciary obligation.

Has anyone set up a Guideline 401k and, if so, what are your thoughts on the platform?

Thanks!

retiredjg
Posts: 37221
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:56 pm

Re: Guideline 401k

Post by retiredjg » Wed Nov 09, 2016 10:29 am

Employee Fiduciary routinely gets rave reviews around here.

I don't recall ever hearing of Guideline and the search box didn't find any mention (other than your post) in the first 20 or so results. I guess there could be something further on down the list. Maybe you can share what you learn. People are frequently looking for good low cost 401k suppliers for small companies.

retiredjg
Posts: 37221
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:56 pm

Re: Guideline 401k

Post by retiredjg » Wed Nov 09, 2016 12:26 pm

I was curious about Guideline and found this link on the internet. According to FINRA, they were approved about a year ago.

https://www.guideline.com

They certainly appear to be very Bogelheaded - low costs, Vanguard funds, etc. Whether they do a good job or not…unknown at this point. I certainly hope so as it would be nice to have more than one company to recommend to small businesses.

dustincole
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:41 pm

Re: Guideline 401k

Post by dustincole » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:43 pm

Hello. Did you end up going with Guideline? My company has also been looking for a new 401k and we've had a really great experience with our discussions with Guideline so far. They've been extremely responsive and helpful.

Just looking to get some feedback from anyone who has actually signed up. Thanks!

renue74
Posts: 1655
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:24 pm

guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by renue74 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:22 am

[Thread merged into here, see below. --admin LadyGeek]

Has any small business owner actually started working with guideline.com for their small business 401k? If so, initial thoughts?

I know it's fairly new and I've searched this site as well as FINRA's site and google searched, but cant' find any positive or negative reviews.

"Anyone, anyone, anyone?"

dustincole
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:41 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by dustincole » Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:19 pm

Hey! I just transferred my organization's 80 or so participants to Guideline and it's been great. We've just started this past month, but we went through a year long process of vetting and transferring. I'll be happy to share future thoughts and some of our research if you'd like.

veritas
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:03 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by veritas » Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:27 pm

Love it, interface is awesome and it makes a traditionally complicated and confusing product super easy for employees to setup. Have had no issues so far and their support is fantastic.

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 55908
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:19 pm

I merged renue74's thead into here. The combined thread is in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (employer retirement plan).
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

rainman95
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:02 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by rainman95 » Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:07 pm

dustincole wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:19 pm
Hey! I just transferred my organization's 80 or so participants to Guideline and it's been great. We've just started this past month, but we went through a year long process of vetting and transferring. I'll be happy to share future thoughts and some of our research if you'd like.
I'd like to hear about your research! Save me quite a bit of time.

dustincole
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:41 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by dustincole » Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:50 pm

rainman95 wrote:
Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:07 pm
dustincole wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:19 pm
Hey! I just transferred my organization's 80 or so participants to Guideline and it's been great. We've just started this past month, but we went through a year long process of vetting and transferring. I'll be happy to share future thoughts and some of our research if you'd like.
I'd like to hear about your research! Save me quite a bit of time.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/x19ra38mhcskw ... l.pdf?dl=0

Here you go! It's a 10 pg PDF summarizing our research. It's written to persuade our board to adopt a certain point of view, so it talks a lot about our terrible prior plan. Hope it helps.

anisomorpha
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:26 am

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by anisomorpha » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:34 am

Nicely done. We recently did something similar, interviewing multiple traditional financial adviser plans, negotiating with current FA, and demoing multiple online TPAs. Guideline (guideline.com) seemed the clear choice for cost/features/fund selection, and so we vetted them with an existing customer and what we heard from them matched what we saw and heard from the demo. We start Jan 1 with 170+ employees. Excited to start a 401k plan with total fees under 10 basis points! Incredible!

Drd1986
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:06 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by Drd1986 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:15 pm

Sorry for digging this post back up, but does anyone have any follow ups regarding working with guideline.com?

I, too, am considering a switch from my R2 American fund 401k ( I gasped too after further research), to something that will be better for my employees. One concern with a startup 401k provider is regarding a possible bankrupt situation, and what would then happen to our assets?

Thanks

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 55908
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:25 pm

Welcome! Drd1986 has asked those questions here: Guideline 401k
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

dustincole
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:41 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by dustincole » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:28 pm

Drd1986 wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:15 pm
Sorry for digging this post back up, but does anyone have any follow ups regarding working with guideline.com?

I, too, am considering a switch from my R2 American fund 401k ( I gasped too after further research), to something that will be better for my employees. One concern with a startup 401k provider is regarding a possible bankrupt situation, and what would then happen to our assets?

Thanks
I'll be happy to follow up. Guideline has proved to be much better than I could have imagined. I very highly recommend them. They recently got a large second round of start up funding and I know their client base is almost 3k strong just 2 years into their company. So they're doing well. Also, they are just the technology and administration layer on top of the 401k. The actual money is held by Vanguard and recordkept by an insured Trust company. Guideline doesn't actually hold the money. Even if Guideline folds the money will just be transferred to another company.

Drd1986
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:06 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by Drd1986 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:51 pm

Thanks Dustin!

If you don't mind me asking, but how long have you been with the company and has their customer service been acceptable? I have an older staff of which computers aren't their friends. However, I was already planning on helping them do the online profile and account setup. Also, do they provide copies of the necessary yearly forms as well as offering printable statements if necessary?

dustincole
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:41 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by dustincole » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:41 pm

We started on July 1 formally. We have quite a few older staff who rarely log on. But the process is dead simple and made to be set and forget. So if you hand hold through the first part you should be fine. They take care of all the administrative parts, which has been hugely helpful to be as the plan admin. They even send us a custom excel sheet because our ancient accounting software doesn’t cloud sync with their database. As for prints, I’m not sure. I imagine they could if it’s necessary, though they won’t like it. Have you done a demo with their sales team?

Drd1986
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:06 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by Drd1986 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:23 pm

No but I am planning on scheduling a demo in the near future. As far as the excel sheets, is that regarding year end census data? Right now I have a small business type of setup with local accounting firm that includes payroll, so I may have to manually enter contributions, but thats not nearly the same headache as worrying about my current American Funds R2 shares...

dustincole
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:41 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by dustincole » Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:26 pm

Sorry I should have been more clear. The excel sheets show the changes in contribution amounts from participants. Typically any semi-modern accounting software will sync automatically with Guideline's database and contribution changes will happen automatically. Since we don't have compatible software Guideline was kind enough to work out a manual system for us.

MKelly26
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:08 am

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by MKelly26 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:35 am

Looking to re-invigorate this thread. Currently looking at 401k options for our small business, hoping to get feedback from those users who seem to have had Guideline for some months now. Looks like a great low cost option.

dustincole
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:41 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by dustincole » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:06 pm

I highly recommend them! Will be happy to talk with you anytime. Feel free to ask any questions you have.

gostars
Posts: 439
Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:53 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by gostars » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:40 pm

There are some frustrating limitations, like not being able to leave existing money invested as-is and change only future contributions, and not being able to set specific dollar amounts for contributions or funds. Still, the benefits of having a wide selection of low-cost funds and no AUM fees far outweigh the limitations of the platform.

dustincole
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:41 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by dustincole » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:06 pm

Yup. Those are limitations. But I think it’s a good trade off since it’s built to be bulletproof for amateur investors to one click and forget which is how retirement investing should go. Gotta save the noobs from themselves.

gostars
Posts: 439
Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:53 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by gostars » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:15 pm

One-click is a great default for most investors, but I'd like a little finer control of how investments are handled since I'm spread across multiple accounts with different goals as part of the overall plan. And, something as simple as letting existing contributions ride and changing only future ones actually helps them since it cuts down on sales of funds. For example, right now, 100% of my contributions are going towards bonds as I move my bond allocation into my 401k. Once I hit the correct amount, I'm going to want to back that way down to just maintain the correct AA, but there's no way to do that without changing the overall percentages, which means something is getting sold off to achieve that.

User avatar
LikeYouImagine
Posts: 193
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:35 am

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by LikeYouImagine » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:19 pm

I spoke with a Guideline rep today about their plan and they are looking to allow for more flexible contribution adjustments like specific dollar amounts in the future.

User avatar
Devil's Advocate
Posts: 289
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:18 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by Devil's Advocate » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:05 pm

Does guideline.com act as both custodian and trustee?

DA

themoney
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:18 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by themoney » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:28 pm

Just wanted to add another data point to the discussion about Guideline. My experience with them has been absolutely horrendous. If you need any customary but outside the norm transactions they are ill suited to handle it. In my now 3 month ongoing dialog with them, they continually remind me they are a start up and, "while we know what a QDRO is, we've never done one before." They don't even have the proper forms, they seem completely baffled by the process, and their internal legal council checked and signed the wrong sections of their own legal documents. It's a mess.

anisomorpha
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:26 am

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by anisomorpha » Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:08 pm

Horrendous? I wonder if it's start-up pains. Our porting from previous provider was rough, but with 150+ employees in the plan and 8 months in we're pretty happy now.

craycray
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:54 am

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by craycray » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:02 am

I'm reviewing Guideline for a small company 401k. I would appreciate any updates on experience with Guideline.

1. Did Guideline resolve being able to process QDRO?
2. Does Guideline have an IOS app? In this thread, dustincole provided a dropbox hyperlink to his PDF analysis that showed Guideline has a mobile app; however, I cannot find any Guideline app in Apple app store. Also, Fidelity does have a mobile App to access 401k info, and this was not marked in his PDF chart.

I'm apprehensive due to the amount of negative reviews in the following thread.
viewtopic.php?t=229371

User avatar
gilgamesh
Posts: 1500
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:29 am

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by gilgamesh » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:33 pm

craycray wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:02 am
I'm reviewing Guideline for a small company 401k. I would appreciate any updates on experience with Guideline.

1. Did Guideline resolve being able to process QDRO?
2. Does Guideline have an IOS app? In this thread, dustincole provided a dropbox hyperlink to his PDF analysis that showed Guideline has a mobile app; however, I cannot find any Guideline app in Apple app store. Also, Fidelity does have a mobile App to access 401k info, and this was not marked in his PDF chart.

I'm apprehensive due to the amount of negative reviews in the following thread.
viewtopic.php?t=229371
Cray cray...I’m curious how yiu found this site in your research on guideline? This is more an investing site...the reason I ask is this?

The 3 negative reviews were all by members who joined the same day they posted the review and never participated on anything else. On an investment site? So, it caught my attention.

You are genuinely looking for answers...you also just registered. I wonder whether a google search of guideline.com brings up this forum...I typically don’t put much value on hit and run reviews, but you being genuine will help me in weeding through these....thanks!

z0r
Posts: 106
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:50 am

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by z0r » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:41 pm

Hope to never need a qdro but the annual plan disclosures I just got from guideline listed qdro cost as $500. So maybe they're able to do them now?

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 55908
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by LadyGeek » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:44 pm

The wiki has some background info: Qualified domestic relations order (QDRO)
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

jacoavlu
Posts: 732
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:06 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by jacoavlu » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:50 pm

When I briefly looked into Guideline I thought that they only had the capability to do straightforward Pro Rata profit sharing - no Age Weighted, no New Comparability, no cross testing. Someone considering Guideline should confirm if this is true or not, and whether such a plan fits the needs of their company.

MotoTrojan
Posts: 5552
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:39 pm

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by MotoTrojan » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:54 pm

User here. It’s great, very good fund makeup.

craycray
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:54 am

Re: guideline.com for small business 401K?

Post by craycray » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:16 pm

gilgamesh wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:33 pm
craycray wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:02 am
I'm reviewing Guideline for a small company 401k. I would appreciate any updates on experience with Guideline.

1. Did Guideline resolve being able to process QDRO?
2. Does Guideline have an IOS app? In this thread, dustincole provided a dropbox hyperlink to his PDF analysis that showed Guideline has a mobile app; however, I cannot find any Guideline app in Apple app store. Also, Fidelity does have a mobile App to access 401k info, and this was not marked in his PDF chart.

I'm apprehensive due to the amount of negative reviews in the following thread.
viewtopic.php?t=229371
Cray cray...I’m curious how yiu found this site in your research on guideline? This is more an investing site...the reason I ask is this?

The 3 negative reviews were all by members who joined the same day they posted the review and never participated on anything else. On an investment site? So, it caught my attention.

You are genuinely looking for answers...you also just registered. I wonder whether a google search of guideline.com brings up this forum...I typically don’t put much value on hit and run reviews, but you being genuine will help me in weeding through these....thanks!
In response to your above question on how I found this site on my research... I know this is a good board for investment advice and so I found it in my google search of "bogleheads guideline 401k".

Should I be researching on a different board dedicated to small companies? We are seriously looking to start a Safe Harbor 401k for our small business of 10 employees. Thus far I've narrowed down my selection to either Ascensus, EF, or Guideline.

Post Reply