Guideline for Advisors - frequently asked questions

What is Guideline for Advisors?

As Guideline's business has matured, we have received increasing interest from accountants and financial advisors looking to set up and manage review Guideline 401(k) plans on behalf of their clients. Guideline for Advisors is our answer to that interest. Advisors are now able to set up and review Guideline 401(k) plans from their very own purpose-built dashboard. Additionally, Guideline can process and pay Advisers asset-based advisory fees on behalf of plan sponsors (see below for more details).

What are Guideline’s key services and pricing?

Guideline is the first full service 401(k) without added management fees. (1) Employers pay a flat fee, employees pay a low fund expense, and everyone understands what they are paying for. We know that being straightforward saves time – and money. Click here for an outline to our key services and pricing. 

How is Guideline for Advisors different from Guideline’s standard 401(k) service offering?

Guideline for Advisors features the exact same service and pricing as our direct business. Guideline for Advisors is built specifically for financial advisors interested in providing Guideline 401(k) plans to their clients.  

What is the typical Guideline client profile?

The typical Guideline 401(k) client is a tech-savvy company establishing a 401(k) plan for the first time. These companies typically have less than 50 employees and use a cloud-based payroll provider like Gusto, Zenefits, OnPay, ADP, Intuit/Quickbooks, Rippling, and Square (click here to see the full list of supported payroll providers).

That being said, many of our clients are established companies with hundreds of employees who are simply looking to minimize asset-based fees and offer the most participant-focused 401(k) plan possible.   

Which payroll providers does Guideline integrate with?

Payroll integration is one of Guideline’s main features -- it allows us to automate plan administration and recordkeeping, which is a big relief for plan sponsors. Guideline features integrations with major cloud-based payroll companies like Gusto, Zenefits, OnPay, ADP, Intuit/Quickbooks, Rippling, and Square (click here to see the full list of supported payroll providers).

How does plan design work? Are there any plan design limitations I should know about?

You can schedule time with a Guideline Account Executive to talk about plan design and compliance testing. Click here to see Guideline’s plan design options. Please note that every Guideline plan features automatic enrollment, and we do not currently support an hours-of-service (i.e. part-time employee) eligibility restriction.

What are the investment options?

Guideline cuts participating employees’ costs by eliminating layers of fees and using low-cost index mutual funds. We have designed our managed portfolios using Vanguard index funds, commonly recognized as the market leader in driving down fund costs over the last four decades.

Guideline’s managed portfolios have an average blended expense ratio of 0.067%. We also select a list of funds that are aligned with our responsibilities as a 3(38) fiduciary. Most Guideline participants will use our portfolio recommendation tool to invest in one of our recommended portfolios, but participants are given the option to create their own custom asset allocation from among the list of 41 funds that we have curated.

How do I add a new plan?

In your Guideline for Advisors account, click “Add a Plan” > “No” to start setting up a new plan. The advisor can design the plan on behalf of the plan sponsor, or the advisor can simply enter the plan sponsor’s contact information, which will trigger an email to the plan sponsor asking them to complete plan set up. Whether the plan is being designed by the Advisor or the plan sponsor, an authorized representative must be duly appointed by the plan sponsor to serve as the plan’s trustee and enter into a service agreement with Guideline

How do I add a conversion plan?

For companies with an existing 401(k) plan that are interested in transferring their plan to Guideline, the first step in the conversion process is for Guideline to conduct a plan review. While most plans are somewhat similar to a Guideline 401(k) plan, there are certain features of some plans that could complicate the conversion process, and Guideline wants to make advisors and plan sponsors aware of what a specific plan’s conversion process may entail before a decision is made one way or the other.

In order to start a plan review, the adoption agreement for an existing 401(k) plan should be submitted to Guideline via our secure portal in your Guideline for Advisors account (click “Add a Plan” > “Yes” > “Another Provider” to submit the Adoption Agreement). Guideline will deliver your client’s plan review in approximately 2-3 business days to discuss any differences and next steps. 

Can Guideline process my advisory fee?

Yes, Guideline can process and pay Advisers asset-based advisory fees on behalf of plan sponsors. Fees are prorated daily and withdrawn from plan assets quarterly, in arrears. If you are interested in having Guideline process your advisory fee, please reach out to us at

Do you have any marketing materials that I can share with prospective clients?

Guideline One-Sheeter

Portfolio Menu Fund Menu

Plan Design

Safe Harbor Guide

Non-Discrimination Testing

401(k) Checklist

How do I schedule a product demo for my clients interested in a Guideline 401(k)?

You can schedule a demo for prospective Guideline clients by reaching out to your dedicated Sales Representative. 

Who do I contact for any specific Guideline for Advisors questions? 

Your dedicated Sales Representative will be your main point of contact. Or you can contact the Guideline for Advisors team. Contact information as follows:  |  (888) 588-1168 | Schedule a Call 

(1) Guideline uses a third party to provide custodial services. Custodial fees are paid by Guideline.


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