Frequently Asked Questions


  • ShareBuilder 401k launched in 2005 with the goal to take the cost out of 401(k), simplify purchase and management, and most importantly, help Americans save. We pioneered the all-ETF 401(k) and online quote, purchase and setup. We are here to help any size business have a low-cost, high-service plan. Today, we serve over 6,000 companies across America offering 401(k) plan design consulting, employee education, digital setup, and investment management services.

  • Our service intertwines 401(k) plan design expertise, technology, and investments to help you achieve better retirement outcomes at lower costs. Our program brings together the highest level of investment management services (ERISA 3(38) advisory), plan design strategy and delivery, and recordkeeping and administration, to help you run a great 401(k) benefits program for your company. Our 401(k) services are not only designed to save you time, money and energy, but also protect plan sponsors and enable more employees to save more for retirement. ShareBuilder 401k is offered by ShareBuilder Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor.

  • Our founding principles of providing easy, affordable, and smart retirement plans are the bedrock of ShareBuilder 401k. We designed our investment offerings to combine diversification and low expenses, selecting a high-quality* low-cost ETF fund lineup managed by our Investment Committee.

    Easy — ShareBuilder 401k offers 100% online purchase, setup and management paired with 401(k) consultants to serve you. Our free online quote process does the hard work for you; it will: 1) select the 401(k) plan that best fits your company's needs; 2) provide an immediate quote online; and 3) allow you to purchase the plan on the spot.

    Affordable — ShareBuilder 401k is designed to be one of the lowest cost 401(k) solutions for any size businesses. Our upfront and transparent pricing structure helps make it easy to understand with no hidden fees.

    Smart — We are a leader in providing 100% ETF 401(k) plans, a smart, index-based approach to long term saving.

  • All ShareBuilder 401k plans offer 20 diverse Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), one money market, and five model portfolios designed to suit different investing styles. Our plans also offer participants the option to automatically rebalance their account quarterly. Visit the Investments section to view the model portfolios and investments available from ShareBuilder 401k.

  • ShareBuilder 401k is a complete solution that allows you to access and manage your company's 401(k) plan online 24/7. The process to set up a plan is quick and easy, and it takes just a few minutes a month to manage. Our team is available to assist you all along the way including kick-off meetings and ongoing support during normal business hours.

  • It generally takes 5-10 minutes to purchase your plan online and another 15-30 minutes to complete online plan feature selection process. Once this is complete, you generally receive a notice giving you online access along with our team’s follow-up that your plan is ready to go in less than a week. We’ll help you roll out and educate your employees if you’d like.

    If you are transferring to ShareBuilder 401k from another provider, this process above is accurate, plus we will need to coordinate the transfer process which can take around 60 days to complete. Our team will work with you to coordinate and manage the transfer from your existing service provider.

  • A Safe Harbor 401(k) plan generally satisfies the non-discrimination rules for elective deferrals and employer matching contributions. In a Safe Harbor 401(k) plan, matching contributions vest immediately and are typically 3% to 4% of an employee’s salary. By providing these immediately vesting, matching contributions, you automatically satisfy this government test and unlock the highest yearly contribution limits for themselves and their Highly Compensated Employees. Click here to learn more.

  • Generally, the U.S. Government wants to ensure that 401(k) plans do not favor Highly Compensated Employees (HCEs) over Non-Highly Compensated Employees (NHCEs). The government has established required compliance tests to verify that all employees have fair representation in a plan. The Safe Harbor plan helps you automatically pass the non-discrimination testing by making contributions on behalf of your employees.

    There are generally three main types of compliance tests required to be performed on a 401(k) plan to ensure you do not establish a plan that treats your employees unfairly:


    • Actual Deferral Percentage (ADP) test — Compares the deferral percentage of HCEs and NHCEs. (Generally, the HCE deferral amount cannot be more than two percentage points higher than the non-HCEs' average).
    • Actual Contribution Percentage (ACP) test — Compares employer matching contributions between the HCEs and NHCEs.
    • Top-Heavy test — Determines if the account balances of key employees is greater than 60% of the total assets of the plan.
  • Highly Compensated Employees are generally defined as individual(s) with more than 5% ownership, family members of a more than 5% owner (spouse, parents, children or grandparents), or employees who earned more than $135,000 in the previous calendar year. (Based on 2019 levels). Generally, all HCEs will be limited to defer only about 2% more than the average of all eligible Non-Highly Compensated Employees (NHCEs). If the plan does not have any eligible NHCEs participating in the 401(k) plan, then none of the HCEs would be able to participate either.

  • If this is your first 401(k) plan for your business, your Safe Harbor plan is required to be set up three months prior to the plan year-end date. So if your business is on a calendar, fiscal year your plan must be established by October 1st. It typically takes 1-2 weeks from the purchase date to complete the installation of your plan. Note that traditional and Solo 401(k) plans have different deadlines that are much closer to the end of a fiscal year. If you have an existing plan, you may start the transfer process at pretty much anytime.

  • Simply start with by clicking on Get Pricing, go through the purchase and online installation process. A dedicated lead from our team will be assigned to help you get your plan up and running. We will proactively reach out to you to assist you and answer your questions. Your plan will be serviced by an experienced team of specialists and consultants which will support you and your employees including education meetings. We look forward to helping you save more for retirement.

* High-quality Funds: The ShareBuilder Advisors Investment Committee conducts an annual review of the Exchange-Traded Funds offered as ShareBuilder 401k fund options. This review includes multiple variables including length of time since inception, asset level, historic performance over one to ten years, expense ratio, and how the funds compare to their respective benchmark indices. Each fund is monitored and changes are made to the fund lineup as needed to align the investment options to the Investment Committee’s investment policy.