SPARK National Conference

Join us at the SPARK National Conference, the retirement services industry's leading event for the nation's top marketing, sales, administration and record keeping professionals. Attendees include representatives from national banks, insurance companies, mutual fund complexes, investment firms, third party administrators, benefit consulting organizations and financial advisory firms. We have a comprehensive agenda designed to meet the needs of not only 401(k) Plan Providers, but also Financial Advisors and Third Party Administrators who serve our industry.

The SPARK National Conference gets underway Thursday, June 1st with breakfast at 7:00 AM in the Services Exhibition, followed by opening remarks at 8:00 AM. Sessions continue throughout the day and wrap up with a cocktail reception with exhibitors from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. The conference continues on Friday with breakfast in the Services Exhibition at 7:00 AM, followed by opening remarks and sessions beginning at 8:00 AM. The conference ends at 1:00 PM.


Topic Highlights

  • A Retirement Paycheck at the End of the Rainbow - Despite an almost singular focus by the retirement industry on investing and growing defined contribution (DC) plan assets, most plan sponsors now recognize that the "core purpose" of workplace retirement plans should be to serve as a source of retirement income. From plan sponsor views on public policy to brand new participant insights, this session will address how plan sponsors, record keepers, plan advisors and other retirement professionals can help future generations of retirees value a retirement paycheck, rather than a proverbial pot of gold.
  • Driving Participant Retirement Savings - Plan sponsors and providers can develop programs that drive outcomes, but understanding participants' attitudes and behaviors is also important - the actions they take, their sources of motivation (or lack thereof!), and the challenges they face. Looking back over the past five years, this session will explore which participant attitudes have changed, and which have remained consistent. New insights will be revealed on methods plan providers and plan sponsors can use to help drive better outcomes.
  • Retirement Plan Advisors - Managing Productivity & Risk - Growing a book of business happens when advisors are able to efficiently and confidently support plan sponsors and positive participant outcomes.Yet challenges, such as ever-changing regulations, participant behaviors, and technology investment prioritization seem to constantly stretch capabilities, resources, and growth potential. This panel session will discuss the challenges and opportunities that are driving industry changes, leading to the development of innovative solutions that can help advisors strategically grow and retain their retirement book of business, while also fulfilling their fiduciary obligations.
  • Broker Dealer Home Office Roundtable: Opportunities to Build Your Relationships for Growth - Join Ascensus for a Broker Dealer panel discussion with industry experts from Cetera, LPL Financial, and Morgan Stanley to discuss regulatory developments and tools that are being used to ensure continued compliance, promote plan wellness, and drive retirement readiness. Our panelists will also explore what recordkeepers and TPAs can do to grow their business in these channels.
  • Plan Sponsors Growing Fiduciary Responsibilities for Cyber Security - More and more plan sponsors are realizing they have a responsibility and risk in administering their defined contribution plans. This session will examine the growing fiduciary risks plan sponsors face.
  • The State-Run Retirement Opportunity: How Should your Firm React? - Due to concerns over the lack of access to a retirement plan for millions of American workers, states and cities will be launching State Administered Retirement Plans (SARPs) and/or Nest Egg programs. We will explore proposed plan designs, implementation dates, eligibility requirements and pricing expectations of these plans.
  • Interactive Discussion on Record-Keeping Less Liquid Investments - Members are encouraged to come and participate in an interactive discussion with members of the Defined Contribution Real Estate Council (DCREC). In this session, the DCREC is seeking feedback from SPARK member firms who have some experience or thoughts about dealing with funds that might have liquidity restrictions. The goal is to provide thought leadership for establishing industry best practices for record-keeping private real estate investments. Participants in the session should expect to share and learn about operationalizing these private investments in the custom or white label solutions created by plan sponsors and their consultants. Key topics will include: NAV communication, rebalancing, disclosure requirements, liquidity management, communication needs,etc.
  • Shared Cyber Threat Intelligence Analysis - In this session members will hear from the FS-ISAC Chief of Staff on how financial services firms are working together to share cyber threats and combat security risks.
  • Congressional Panel Discussion
  • State Run Retirement Plan Pros and Cons - The SPARK Institute continues its examination of State Run Retirement plans and looks at the pros and cons of how best to expand retirement coverage to more American workers. In this session, Joshua Gotbaum, agrees to be interviewed on the coverage issue. Mr. Gotbaum has extensive background working with State Treasurers from around the Country on this issue through his work on Brookings Retirement Security Project. He is also the chair of the Maryland Small Business Retirement Security Board and from 2010-14 he directed the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
  • The Global DC Market - While many of the demographic, economic and social trends driving the retirement crisis are global, solutions need to be local. Each country's income data, longevity statistics, spending patterns and behavioral characteristics all must be accounted for when designing investment solutions intended to help support retirement consumption. We will explore key factors in several nations across the globe - including how they differ, where they are similar, and how this insight may shape retirement investing solutions.
  • Latest Legal Trends in Data Security - This session will examine how laws are changing rapidly to address cyber security risks and vendor's responsibilities. Our legal experts will examine the changing legal environment here in the U.S. and abroad. Learn about macro trends in data security and how they are playing out on a day-to-day basis for record keepers and their clients.
  • Advisors and Consultants Roundtable - In this session you will hear from a panel of Plan Sponsor Advisors and Consultants. Our panel will discuss trends in the industry and how they are adapting to the new fiduciary rule. They will also provide the audience with insights into what plan sponsors want and need from their service providers. Plenty of time will be made available for the audience to ask questions.
  • Washington Legislative and Regulatory Update


For more information about sponsorship and speaking opportunities, contact Marlene Jung at 860-658-5058 or

Past Sponsors