Nationwide Financial of Columbus, Ohio, has rolled out a new program that allows registered investment advisers (RIAs) and certified public accountants (CPAs) to sell its retirement plans for a fee rather than a commission, making it the first major 401(k) provider to do so. Others are likely to follow as the entire financial services industry moves towards fee-based business.

Nationwide's move gives fee-only RIAs and CPAs, many of whom do not sell products on commission, an important entree into the 401(k) planning business. "RIAs and CPAs that are fee-only can't offer 401(k) advice in any mass at this point," said Michael Scarborough, CEO of The Scarborough Group of Annapolis, Md., and an expert on 401(k) plans.

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