Don’t Get Orbitz-ed

By Mike Bushnell • 5/7/2015 • 0 Comments

The Internet has made it easier for Americans to do all sorts of things themselves that were once largely handled by paid professionals, with booking travel and hotels being a prime example. Writing in the Spring 2015 issue of NAPA Net the Magazine, columnist Fred Barstein asks whether automation will diminish the value of plan advisors, casting them aside the way many travel agents were.

“The vast majority of today’s advisors can be replaced if they do little more than the equivalent of arranging flights and hotels,” Barstein writes. Similar to how free airline ticket aggregators like Orbitz and Kayak rendered basic travel agents mostly useless, Barstein says that advisors who do the bare minimum for their plans will go belly up, and they deserve to.

However, Barstein says, there are many features that a human advisor can offer that an automated system cannot, including helping plan sponsors be sure that:

  • their plan is in compliance with DOL and IRS regulations;
  • their time and liability is minimized; and
  • their employees have enough money to retire “on time,” minimizing the costs of older workers and allowing younger workers a chance to grow.

Offering a possible lesson for plan advisors, Barstein notes that some travel agents have survived by providing full-service options for vacationers that don’t end as soon as the plane takes off. Those agents, Barstein says, offer customized services for clients that are responsive to unique challenges and differing travel interests. 

To read the full column, click here and select the top item, “Will Plan Advisors Suffer the Fate of Travel Agents?” You can download the full 78-page Spring 2015 issue of NAPA Net the Magazine here

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