ShareBuilder 401k Help Center

Resources on plan design, features, regulatory needs and FAQs to help you make the most of your 401(k) plan benefits.

Plan Designs

Plan Designs

401(k) plans are highly flexible and can be customized to meet your needs.

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Employee 401(k) Plan Features

Employee 401(k) Plan Features

Features can make a big difference in helping employees get on track.

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Plan Sponsor 401(k) Features

Plan Sponsor 401(k) Features

Get the features that help you manage your plan and meet your benefit goals.

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Managing Your 401(k) in Line with Regulatory Requirements

Managing Your 401(k) in Line with Regulatory Requirements

Insights and facts on managing your plan in a compliant manner and how we help.

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Frequently Asked Questions


  • ShareBuilder Advisors launched the ShareBuilder 401k in 2005 with the goal of making retirement savings plans accessible for all. Today, we serve over 6,000 companies across America offering 401(k) plan design consulting, employee education, digital setup, and investment management services.

    We pioneered online quote to purchase of 401(k) plans and the all index-fund investment roster (using Exchange-Traded Funds and one Money Market) to help any size business and their employees enjoy the benefits of a low-cost, high-service 401(k) plan.

  • 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, cost and energy, but also protect plan sponsors while enabling 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 is 100% online and convenient. 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 fee structure strives to have 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) as well as 5 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 ETFs available in 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.

  • No. For companies with a 401(k) retirement plan, the plan can be transferred to a new provider at any time. Separately, adding or removing features may need to start at the beginning of your company’s fiscal year.

  • A ShareBuilder 401k customer success manager will work with you and the recordkeeper conversion team to coordinate and manage the transfer from your existing service provider. Depending on your business size and if you are converting an existing plan, this process can take between 5 and 60 days to complete. Getting your company's 401(k) plan up-and-running is started online. After completing the online purchase, it’s time to complete the online plan feature selection process and then either upload or enter your employees' information.

  • A Safe Harbor 401(k) plan generally satisfies the non-discrimination rules for elective deferrals and employer matching contributions. For a 401(k) plan to be considered a Safe Harbor plan, employers must satisfy certain contribution, vesting, and notice requirements. In a Safe Harbor plan, matching contributions vest immediately.

    So, let's say you have 500 employees, but only a third of them choose to put money into the plan. There's a formula that limits the amount that owners and Highly Compensated Employees (HCE’s) can personally contribute to a traditional, non-Safe Harbor plan. Under a Safe Harbor 401(k), if your company is willing to make a minimum contribution on behalf of your employees, these HCEs will be able to maximize their own personal contributions to the plan.

  • 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 2022 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.

  • Safe Harbor plans are required to be set up 3 months prior to the plan year-end date. It typically takes 2-3 weeks from the purchase date to be able to install your plan. (Plan installation date requirements are contingent upon the plan type being adopted and whether it is an existing or startup plan. Deadlines are set each year by the Third Party Administrator).

  • Simply start with a Free Quote, go through the purchase and online installation process and a customer success manager will be assigned to lead the transition of your plan. Your plan will be serviced by an experienced team of consultants which will support the administration of your plan at conversion and ongoing.

*ShareBuilder Advisors Investment Committee conducts an annual review of the funds offered as ShareBuilder 401k investment options. The review includes multiple variables including length of time since inception, asset level, historic performance over one to ten years, expense ratios, and how the funds compare to their benchmark index. 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.