Our client, a small RIA, was looking to win more 401K business. She has been targeting a good prospect for months using a drip campaign, and wanted to get a jump on the competition by being the first to analyze her prospects latest 5500 filing. What she hoped would be a compelling follow up was immediately discussing their latest filing and offering solutions based on their just filed data. She asked if we could help.
Form 5500 filings are posted for all to see on a daily basis by the DOL. And to find that filing, one must go to the DOL website and search for the company filing that they are looking for. There is no notification that the filing has been updated. The DOL only creates a file for vendors like us to consume on a monthly basis. And different vendors may take 1 day to 2 weeks to process and make available in their systems (we do it same-day).
Compounding the problem, the DOL has to process a filing days before posting it on their website which may take days. This means that a file could be received on November 28, but still miss the November monthly update because the DOL hasn’t processed it yet. So if you are waiting to see that filing through your favorite vendor, you would have to wait until early January, and possibly mid-January.
We created Real-Time Updates in the new Larkspur Executive to allow our clients to get an early jump on the competition. Instead of passively waiting for updates to be provided to us in a monthly file, we actively go to the DOL site and get the updates ourselves. We then alert our clients that the plan they are targeting to win new business has been updated and that they have new data to use to help them with their pitch. And they have the data weeks before their competitors.
So why doesn’t everyone provide intra-month updates? Well it turns out that it’s hard to do. The DOL site doesn’t allow screening based on the date a filing is received. So the first challenge is to identify plans that have been filed intra-month and were not included in the last monthly update.
Once we identify these plans we have to parse them for use in Larkspur Executive. Since intra-month plans are available only from the DOL in PDF format, not parsed like the month end files, we have to use our proprietary image recognition software to read the files and parse the data. This includes the numerical data as well as the textual data from the schedules about vendors, insurance, holdings, etc.
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