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BrightScope

Online Financial Information Provider


Tiny
Published 04/23/2012 and rated Ratingstars2 2 out of 5 stars
by Dorothy Distefano
What can you use the app for?

BrightScope is a financial information application. It is designed to assist individual investors, financial advisors, and others in decision making for retirement planning and wealth management. It recently launched Advisor Pages, a directory of Financial Advisors.

BrightScope screenshot
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What is the history and popularity of the app?

BrightScope was founded in February 2008 by Dan Weeks, Mike Alfred, and Ryan Alfred. It is an independent provider for retirement plan ratings, investment analytics, asset managers, and advisors in the US. In April of 2011, the company added BrightScope Advisor Pages – a comprehensive directory of Financial Advisors.

What are the differences to other apps?

The app helps individuals, corporate plan sponsors, asset managers, brokers, and advisors with data for decision making through their web-based software. They “bring transparency to opaque markets”.

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How does the web app look and feel to use?

For those unfamiliar with financial planning, the site may seem overwhelming. During testing, it was easy to locate particular financial advisors using the Advisor Pages, though the information was incomplete. In the Ratings Directory, there was a very long lag waiting for a particular company page to load (with a high-speed turbo connection).

Users may search for their company 401k plan or financial advisor directly from the search bar on the home screen. Plan sponsors may view their plans and benchmark with competitors. Advisors or Asset Managers are invited to contact BrightScope for more information about business development tools.

Users may receive an instant, free, 401k Fee Report by providing age, annual salary, number of 401k accounts, and company names. They then identify the plan they are using and identify the funds they are invested in. Instantly, the application indicates how a user’s fees compare to other investors with similar plans as well as projected savings through age 65. It also provides graphs of the fee overview and impact on retirement. Users may view detailed calculations with total fees, total assets, and plan costs broken down for clear understanding.

Each company has a page with a BrightScope Rating that compares it to other companies in the same peer group (based on an algorithm). This is calculated using the characteristics of an average participant – data gathered from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. It also uses company contributions, fees, investment menu quality, and more to calculate the rating.

Users may track a plan and it will be added to their Alerts.

The application also tracks and rates how a company compares in Total Plan Cost, Company Generosity, Investment Menu Quality, Participation Rate, Salary Deferrals, and Account Balances. It reports the Net Plan Assets, Top 3 Investment Holdings, and Other Companies in the Peer Group. It also reports Plan Service Providers.

The new Financial Advisor Directory includes profiles of financial advisors. These profiles include what type of advisor they are, the firm they work for, location, firm assets under management, and the primary client base. A brief bio is supplied. Google maps provides a map of the office location and known contact information is supplied.

Advisor Metrics are calculated by using the number of years the advisor has been in the industry. The advisor may actually have a higher level of experience which is not reflected if they have not provided the information to BrightScope. The Conduct Metric is based on disputes and terminations.

Also noted on the Advisor page is the amount of assets under the firm’s management, a pie chart of client profile types, experience and employment history, licenses and conduct, membership associations, and firm services. As this is a new component to BrightScope, some of this information is still being collected and added.

How does the registration process work?

Registration with BrightScope requires first and last names, email address, password, company, role (investor, advisor, etc.), postal code, and phone (optional). A confirmation email is sent to the address provided.

What does it cost to use the application?

BrightScope is free of fees for users. Advisors and Plan Sponsors are advised to contact the company, so there may be fees for access to tools for their use.

Who would you recommend the application to?

Brightscope could appeal to individual investors seeking assistance in retirement planning, portfolio building, or general investment advice. The app may also become a useful tool for financial advisors.

  • Free for individual users
  • Thorough information on thousands of companies
  • Comparison to companies in peer group
  • Free 401k Report
  • Financial Advisor Directory
  • Form 5500 Data


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