Fidelity Investments Institutional Services launched its 403(b) retirement program that offers 47 different mutual funds designed specifically for public-school employees.

Unlike a 401(k) plan that is sold to an entire firm, the non-ERISA regulated 403(b) is sold to the individual. This product positions the adviser as a crucial component in marketing a 403(b). "It’s big. It’s growing. It’s ripe and screaming for advisers," said Bill Thompson, senior V.P. of marketing at Fidelity’s retirement business unit, about the 403(b) market.

According to Fidelity, 40% of employees eligible for a 403(b) plan have taken part in this retirement option, mostly because many schools do not offer a structured benefits staff to administrate and educate employees about the plan.

The Fidelity plan offers a loan feature, instructions on payroll deduction processes, easy account access for both advisers and the plan participant, as well as practice management materials on how to sell the plan and educational information for advisers.

Thompson said the offering is extremely timely because of the new tax rules regarding retirement plans -- specifically increased contribution rules for 403(b) plans.

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