First Online 401(K) Rating System Launched By Brightscope, Inc. (One Year Later)

That was the title of a blog post I wrote exactly on year ago today when Brightscope, Inc., an independent data analytics company launched their 401k ratings disclosure website.

It featured  the BrightScope Rating™, a quantitative 401(k) plan rating developed by BrightScope, Inc. in partnership with some of the country’s top independent fiduciaries, finance professors, and 401(k) experts. BrightScope Ratings™ take into account over 200 unique data inputs per plan and calculate a single numerical score to define 401k plan quality at the company level.

In noting that it was the nation’s first online 401(k) rating system, I ended my post by saying, As for me, I’m still thinking about the implications of this innovation. Could be huge.

So I thought it would be interesting to see exactly the progress this start-up company has made over the past year.

Here’s a brief quantitative look-back. Then: 5 employees, now: 22. Then: 800 401(k) plans rated, now: 34,000 401(k) plans rated. Then: a few hundred page views a day, now: approximately 12,000 a day.

The buzz about BrightScope started from their initial press release and has been fueled by media coverage in both mainstream and trade media.

Since the beginning of 2009, the Company has launched the following products:

  • July 2009: Plan Management Dashboard for corporate plan sponsors
  • September 2009: Advisor Central for retirement-plan advisers
  • January 2010: Personal 401(k) Fee Report for 401(k) participants.

They have arrived in the middle of the “perfect storm”: increased Congressional scrutiny and involvement in 401(k) plans, stepped up regulatory focus by the Department of Labor, and everyone’s concern about the adequacy of retirement income – or lack thereof.

Only time will tell the extent to which Brightscope will impact the 401(k) plan industry. But impact it they will. Year 2 should be very, very interesting.


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