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Updated Feb 01, 2024

ADP 401k Review

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Kimberlee Leonard, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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Table of Contents

Open row
Editors Score:9.3/10
ADP is our choice for the best PEO/HRO for benefits administration. ADP's HRO plans include various HR features. Additionally, ADP TotalSource is a comprehensive PEO with bundled HR features. Both provide an intuitive benefits administration process.
Thumbs Up Pros
  • ADP offers a variety of employee retirement plans to meet all small businesses’ needs.
  • The retirement plans integrate with ADP’s popular payroll system, thus automating manual tasks and saving time.
  • The company has a mobile app that makes it easy for employees to enroll in their retirement plan, make changes and track their funds’ performance.
  • The vendor’s customer service includes a dedicated manager, which takes the complexity out of setting up a retirement savings plan for your staff.
Thumbs Down Cons
  • ADP doesn’t list its prices on its website, making it hard to know how much the plan will cost your business without speaking to a company representative.
  • ADP doesn’t disclose its investment fees on its website, forcing you to contact the company for important cost information.
  • User reviews suggest ADP’s customer support may not be as great as promised.
ADP logo
Editor's Rating9.3/10

It’s clear that ADP had all small businesses, from sole proprietors to 100-person organizations, in mind when developing its employee retirement plans. This plan sponsor understands that small businesses are unique and want retirement programs that meet their specific needs. When you partner with ADP, you can choose from a traditional 401(k), an individual or solo 401(k), a SIMPLE IRA, a safe harbor 401(k) and a Roth 401(k). Adding to the company’s appeal, ADP’s retirement plans integrate with its highly rated payroll services. In fact, this single vendor can handle virtually all of your HR needs. It doesn’t get any easier than that for time-crunched small business owners.

ADP Editor's Rating:

9.3 / 10

Transparent pricing
8.5/10
Low employee investment fees
9.5/10
Mobile and online access
10/10
No sign-up or administration fees
8/10
Variety of plans
10/10

Why We Chose ADP as Best for Small Businesses

Small business owners don’t have excessive amounts of time to shop around for a retirement plan sponsor that meets their needs. They may find it easier — and safer — to go with a well-known brand like ADP that can offer a variety of plans and valuable features that can be customized. After all, a sole proprietor won’t want the same plan as a business with 100 employees. Thanks to its many attractive plan options, ranging from a traditional 401(k) to a SIMPLE IRA, ADP is capable of satisfying all types of small (and large) businesses.

ADP’s employee retirement plans integrate with the company’s popular payroll software, automating data entry and flagging any potential mistakes. This saves small business owners and their HR staff countless hours by eliminating the need to manually enter payroll and retirement information. When we researched retirement plan providers, we found in our review of Paychex that it was the only other vendor to offer a native integration with its payroll service. Other solutions, if they offer payroll integrations at all, require connecting products from two different companies (e.g., Human Interest’s employee retirement service with Gusto’s payroll service). By keeping everything in one unified system, business owners can streamline and improve their HR operations.

Among the other reasons ADP is the best retirement plan vendor for small businesses is the company’s customer service. Business owners have access to a dedicated account manager who can assist during implementation and beyond. Small business owners will also appreciate the company’s mobile app, which makes accessing plan information particularly easy for both employers and their employees.

FYIDid you know
If your business is just starting out, you should aim for a retirement plan program that can grow with your company. This is another aspect that makes ADP the best employee retirement plan provider for small businesses: You can start with the company's solo 401(k) plan for yourself and roll it into a traditional 401(k) plan as you hire staff.
ADP retirement account dashboard

Plan participants can get a snapshot of their retirement account on their ADP dashboard. Source: ADP

Ease of Use

Small business owners don’t have hours to spend to set up an employee retirement savings plan; they need it to be quick and easy to implement and simple for employees to enroll in. The more hurdles there are, the less likely anyone is to participate. It’s apparent that ADP had these considerations in mind when it developed its user-friendly digital dashboard. With this portal, ADP makes it simple to set up a retirement plan for your staff by breaking down the process into easily digestible tasks you need to complete.

Our research also revealed how safe and straightforward ADP makes it to upload and store the documents that are necessary to establish your retirement plan. How-to videos and links to more help embedded in the company’s dashboard are other features we like. Most small business owners aren’t retirement plan experts; they need fast access to assistance and comprehensive information at their fingertips. In addition to an easy-to-use dashboard and its built-in resources, ADP gives small business owners access to a dedicated account manager to make sure everything runs smoothly for your organization.

Bottom LineBottom line
If you want a retirement plan that’s easy to implement and manage — with a digital dashboard, a mobile app and access to dedicated support — ADP is the ideal solution for your small business.

ADP retirement intuitive dashboard

ADP’s intuitive dashboard makes it easy to get your small business’s employee retirement plan up and running. Source: ADP

Features and Services

ADP’s retirement plans come with a range of services and features that small businesses will value regardless of how many employees they have.

Fiduciary Services

ADP serves as your fiduciary for both administration and plan management for the company’s 401k Essential plan. If you select the regular 401(k) plan, someone at your business will need to be responsible for all the administrative and managerial tasks. The smaller your business, the more that option might make sense, because the fewer employees you have, the less there is to manage.

Advisory Services

We like how ADP provides advisory services to reduce the risk small businesses face when selecting investments for their retirement plans. For ADP’s plans that work with an adviser, third-party company Mesirow offers co-fiduciary or investment management services. Otherwise, ADP Strategic Plan Services provides fiduciary and investment services.

Implementation Services

ADP empowers you and your HR leaders with access to useful technology and tools that help you get your business’s retirement plan up and running. The vendor also has a team of dedicated managers to help with implementation.

ADP Payroll Integration 

With ADP’s SMARTSync tool, you can integrate your retirement plan data with ADP’s payroll software, thus eliminating manual entry and reducing potential errors. This is vital for saving time and increasing accuracy. Learn more in our ADP payroll review.

ADP retirement SmartSync

ADP’s SMARTSync tool makes it easy to integrate payroll information with your employee retirement plan. Source: ADP

Compliance

ADP handles regulatory compliance, including trustee services, ERISA bond, and Form 5500 completion and filing. In our view, this service adds immense value, since most small business owners aren’t well versed in the laws and regulations surrounding employee retirement plans.

Mobile App

We were impressed with how easy ADP’s mobile app makes it for employees to enroll in your business’s retirement plan. After the team member answers a few questions about their annual income, retirement age and location, the app offers a personal savings target and suggested savings amount to achieve that goal. Once enrolled, employees can conveniently take several actions via the mobile app, including the following:

  • Transfer money into their retirement account
  • Rebalance investments
  • Request a loan
  • Check account balances
  • Review rates and returns
  • Make changes to investment choices
  • Set alerts

ADP retirement mobile app

With ADP’s mobile app, employees have access to their retirement account information no matter where they are. Source: ADP

Retirement Planner

We appreciate that ADP makes it simple for employees to plan for retirement and track their financial goals. The company’s Retirement Readiness calculator, for example, estimates how much money they’ll need for retirement based on their lifestyle goals and how well they are tracking toward those goals. It’s a fairly effortless way for workers to stay engaged in their financial planning and contribute to their future success.

ADP retirement calculator

ADP’s Retirement Readiness calculator helps employees plan for retirement. Source: ADP

Pricing

ADP offers a variety of plans for every size business that may be interested in not just 401(k) plans but also SIMPLE IRAs and SEP IRAs. While the company’s website is very transparent about the features available with each type, what you won’t find are guaranteed prices. Rather, the site has a tool that lets you “estimate your baseline cost” for the 401k Essential option based on a $150 monthly fee, an additional $4 per employee per month, and a $20.83 investment service fee.

To get a more exact quote, as well as pricing information for the other available plans, you’ll need to contact the company. This is an added step that some rivals don’t require. For instance, see our review of USA 401k for a plan provider that shares all of its costs upfront.

When you contact ADP, you’ll also want to inquire about any setup fees. If you’re already using ADP for payroll or other HR services, you may be entitled to special pricing for adding employee retirement plans to your package. Bundling is often a great way to save money.

Implementation/Onboarding

ADP makes it easy to establish a retirement plan for your business, especially with a team of implementation managers at your disposal. The company even has English and Spanish language assistance, which opens up the program to more business owners. With the help of this support staff, your business’s plan can be established the very same day you ink a deal with ADP.

If you’re a business owner rolling over an existing retirement plan, the Document tab in the ADP portal clearly outlines what forms you need to fill out. The Communication tab lets you know if your employees have been notified of the plan, while the Activate tab tells you when your HR staff will be trained on the plan and when payroll is set up. We like that the dashboard also includes target dates to keep you on track with your plan implementation. Another great feature is that once the system is launched, employees can enroll on demand and employers can send a text to each staffer for text-to-enroll capabilities that encourage participation. 

Customer Service

ADP provides business owners with a lot of personalized customer service, which is one reason it’s our best pick for small businesses. When you work with ADP, you have access to a dedicated team that will help you implement and manage your retirement plan. To get support, all you need to do is call the retirement services participant service team at 800-695-7526. Agents are available Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET. Notably, those are longer support hours than most competitors offer.

We found a lot of helpful information directly on ADP’s digital dashboard. Additionally, the ADP website has a resource center, including sections specifically for small businesses; answers to frequently asked questions; a blog; and webinars.

ADP has been in business for over 70 years and has a strong reputation in the marketplace. It sports an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but similar to Paychex, it has a rather low customer review score: 1.05 out of 5 stars. That’s surprising and disconcerting given all the support ADP promises to provide.

Limitations

ADP is a top employee retirement plan provider for small businesses, but one limitation in particular gave us pause: the company’s lack of transparent, upfront pricing. Busy small business owners want to know how much a plan costs from the beginning, and ADP doesn’t provide that information online. Although the vendor is only a call away, we prefer that plan sponsors list pricing on their websites. The more information a small business owner has from the start, the more informed a decision they can make for their organization.

Another potential downside is the poor customer reviews on the BBB website, which notes that ADP has closed nearly 900 complaints in the past three years. If you’d rather not have to rely on customer support, you may want to check out our review of ShareBuilder 401k, which we found to be a great option for business owners who are interested in a do-it-yourself employee retirement plan solution. Going it alone could be better than dealing with subpar or inconsistent customer support.

TipBottom line
Take the time to call ADP to get a specific quote if you are seriously considering the vendor for your retirement plan. Yes, it’s an extra step, but it's the only way you’ll know precisely what the plan will cost you and your employees so you can accurately compare the costs with those of competing plan providers.

Methodology

During our investigation of the best employee retirement plan providers, we compared and contrasted the companies based on their plan types, features and services, pricing, usability, setup, integrations, customer support and drawbacks. To determine the ideal plan sponsor for small businesses in general, we looked for those that kept costs and investment fees low, made it easy to implement and manage the plan, and offered mobile tools to boost enrollment and engagement rates.

We also wanted a vendor that leads with technology but is capable of offering dedicated one-on-one service. We vetoed any plans that were hard to understand, would take a lot of time and effort to implement, and would be time-consuming to manage. Small business owners aren’t experts at creating retirement savings plans; many need the help of a reputable plan provider. Furthermore, small businesses need the same access to investment advice and research as larger enterprises. For these reasons, ADP stood out to us as the best solution for small businesses.

FAQs

ADP offers many types of employee retirement plans, including traditional 401(k), individual or solo 401(k), SIMPLE IRA, safe harbor 401(k) and Roth 401(k).
ADP’s payroll system integrates with the company’s employee retirement plans by connecting your data sets through the vendor’s SMARTSync tool. This eliminates the need for manual data entry, automatically flags potential errors and saves small business owners valuable time by streamlining recordkeeping. SMARTSync works with certain ADP payroll and all-in-one HR solutions, including RUN Powered by ADP and ADP Workforce Now.

Bottom Line

We recommend ADP for …

  • Small business owners who want to keep their payroll information and retirement benefits in one system.
  • Business owners who want to offer their employees enrollment and plan access via a mobile app and an online dashboard.
  • Small business owners who want personalized attention when implementing an employee retirement plan.

We don’t recommend ADP for …

  • Small business owners who don’t want to integrate payroll services with their employee retirement program.
  • Business owners who need to know upfront how much an employee retirement plan will cost.
author image
Kimberlee Leonard, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Kimberlee Leonard is an insurance expert who guides business owners through the complicated world of business insurance. A former State Farm agency owner herself, Leonard started her decades-long career as a financial consultant advising on investment strategies before switching her focus to insurance and risk mitigation for businesses. Leonard has developed insurance primers on everything from small business insurance costs to specific policies, such as excess liability insurance. She has also reviewed business software tools, analyzed employee retirement plan providers and continues to share insights on financial topics as they relate to business. Leonard's work has been published in Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Fortune, Newsweek and other respected outlets.
ADP logo
Editor's Rating9.3/10
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