A New Data Beacon Guides Fund Firms to 401k
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A New Data Beacon Guides Fund Firms to 401k

Fundsters interested in distributing their offerings via 401(k)s may want to check out a new tool from BrightScope. Today the San Diego-based retirement plan data and ratings firm unveiled its first tool, Beacon specifically for asset managers (DC I-O firms, i.e. defined contribution investment-only, in retirement industry lingo). The tool helps DC I-O managers keep track of where their funds are being used inside of 401(k)s.

BrightScope co-founders Ryan (left) and Mike Alfred at The 401kWire's DC Influencer Summit in April
For more details on the new tool, see our sister publication, The 401kWire (see The 401kWire, 10/12/2010).

MFS, the mutual fund firm backed by Canadian insurer Sun Life, has already signed on as the first beta-user of the tool, while FRC-parent Mercatus is partnering with BrightScope for the effort.

BrightScope, led by the brothers Mike and Ryan Alfred, burst into the public eye at the beginning of 2009 with its eponymous ratings of 401(k) plans. The firm now counts more than 50,000 plans in its database, which collectively hold more than 90 percent of the assets in the 401(k) industry. (The new tool, however, offers only data, not ratings.)

Company Press Release

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (October 12, 2010) – BrightScope (, the leading independent provider of retirement plan ratings and investment analytics, today announced the launch of BrightScope Beacon™, a fund-focused analytics software product designed to help defined contribution investment-only firms better understand the distribution of their funds within 401k plans. Beacon enables more precise distribution strategy and resource allocation, helps identify strengths and weaknesses in a fund company’s product set, and uncovers hidden opportunities for growth.

“Beacon brings higher quality data and analytics to the competitive 401k fund distribution market,” said Ryan Alfred, Co-Founder, President, and Head of Product at BrightScope. “Previously investment managers have operated with an incomplete view of their distribution, limiting them to simple, undifferentiated distribution strategies. Beacon helps managers use plan level market intelligence to drive strategic firm level decision-making and create meaningful, measurable opportunities for their sales force.”

MFS, the Boston-based mutual fund company with a successful history of meeting plan sponsors' needs in the Defined Contribution marketplace, is the first Beacon subscriber to gain access to the product in private beta. “For years, we’ve been looking for information that supports a more meaningful discussion with all our partners and clients in the 401(k) marketplace,” said Martin Beaulieu, head of Global Distribution at MFS. “BrightScope Beacon is a major breakthrough and a genuine game-changer in how asset managers approach this market.”

Bob Hedges, founder and managing partner of Mercatus, agrees, “A product like BrightScope Beacon only comes along once every 10-15 years. The potential is enormous.” BrightScope has partnered with Mercatus to bring Beacon to market. Mercatus, a leading consulting firm to the asset management industry, has the expertise to help investment managers incorporate Beacon in to their core go-to-market, sales, product, and marketing processes. “The asset managers who place Beacon at the center of their core operational initiatives for 2011 will achieve an immediate competitive advantage over those who do not,” he adds.

For all of its products, BrightScope obtains its data directly, either from plan sponsors, or from publicly available sources ranging from The United States Department of Labor (DOL) to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Additionally, BrightScope receives investment data from Xignite. The company is aligned with plan sponsors, operating in a transparent manner to avoid any conflicts that could jeopardize its ability to give clients unbiased information.

BrightScope has rated more than 50,000 401k plans, covering over 90% of the assets in the corporate defined contribution marketplace.


About BrightScope

BrightScope is committed to helping America’s workforce retire in dignity. BrightScope is an independent data analytics firm that quantitatively rates 401k plans and gives employees, employers, asset managers, and advisors tools to enhance plan performance. The BrightScope Rating™ developed in partnership with leading independent 401k fiduciaries, reviews more than 200 unique data inputs per plan and calculates a single numerical score which defines 401k plan quality at the company level. BrightScope also publishes distribution rankings for funds in the retirement marketplace, giving asset managers better visibility into how they stack up to others. BrightScope-published ratings, rating definitions, criteria and methodologies are available on the company’s public site,

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