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ADP Employee Retirement Review

Dock David Treece
Dock David Treece
  • ADP is primarily known as a large payroll company.
  • The company only makes sense as an employee retirement benefits provider if you plan to use it for payroll as well. 
  • ADP is not economical for businesses with just a handful of employees.
  • This review is for small business owners and HR professionals who are considering ADP as their employee retirement provider. 

Many businesses want to outsource the management of their employee retirement benefits to a company that has the expertise and resources to take the burden off of employees. The best employee retirement service providers are equipped to do just that. ADP is a large, established payroll services company that provides retirement benefits through an all-in-one platform. The company also offers employee retirement benefit accounts and can be a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution for businesses with at least a couple dozen employees.

ADP Employee Retirement

ADP Employee Retirement

The Verdict

ADP offers small businesses a variety of employee retirement plans. Integration with its payroll software, strong customer service and a hand-holding customer service approach makes it our best pick for small businesses.

ADP Editor's Score: 91/100

Transparent pricing 85/100
Low employee investment fees 95/100
Mobile and online access 100/100
No sign-up or administration fees 80/100
Variety of plans 100/100

Why ADP Is Best for Small Businesses

If your business has employees, it's usually a good idea to use an independent payroll services provider. Whether you already use ADP or still need a payroll provider, it's an easy way to streamline payroll, retirement and health benefits. The 401(k) Essential plan makes it easier to offer an employee retirement plan by simplifying employee account setup and maintenance, and ADP Run is a cost-efficient payroll option for businesses with fewer than 50 employees.


  • ADP offers a variety of retirement plans and account types that are appropriate for businesses of all sizes.
  • Enrollment is easy and can be completed via a mobile app.
  • The company offers a comprehensive suite of payroll, HR and benefits tools and services.


  • ADP does not disclose its fees online.
  • Some of the investment options have high fees. 
  • The basic 401(k) plan requires business owners to select and monitor investments themselves.

ADP Retirement Plan Features

Feature 401(k) 401(k) Essential
Employee mobile app and financial planning tools Yes Yes
Employee self-enrollment Yes Yes
SMARTSync Comprehensive Plan Automation Yes Yes
Administrative fiduciary support No Yes
Investment management support No Yes
Compliance readiness and testing No Yes
Government filings No Yes


ADP offers employers a 401(k) retirement plan that puts the company administrator in charge of selecting and monitoring investments over time. Plan administrators get access to a specialized ADP manager to help with implementation, as well as technology and tools that assist in building, implementing and administering a companywide 401(k). ADP's 401(k) plan can also be synced with the ADP payroll software and ADP HR outsourcing tools through SMARTSync Comprehensive Plan Automation. 

While this may be a good option for very small businesses with investing and recordkeeping experience, managing a retirement plan can be extremely overwhelming for larger operations. 

401(k) Essential

ADP's 401(k) Essential plan offers the provider's full-featured 401(k) with additional assistance with administration and compliance. The plan is also fully customizable, making it easy to adjust every aspect of the plan to meet the needs of your business. This includes tailored automatic enrollment options, employee eligibility requirements, employer contributions, vesting schedules and safe harbor plans. 

Because of the efficiency and peace of mind that come with these added services, even small businesses will benefit from the more robust features of ADP's 401(k) Essential plan. 

Additional Features

  • Onboarding and support: Every ADP plan administrator gets access to a specialized ADP manager who helps with retirement service implementation. This manager assists in tasks such as choosing eligibility requirements, selecting a plan and opting in to automatic employee enrollment.

  • Automation: ADP's SMARTSync Comprehensive Plan Automation lets current ADP payroll and all-in-one HR clients integrate their payroll system with 401(k) plan recordkeeping systems. Administrators can use this feature to save time, improve accuracy and reduce the risk of compliance oversights.

  • Investment manager services: Companies can opt to work with financial services firm Mesirow to get co-fiduciary or investment manager services. Alternatively, ADP's affiliate, ADP Strategic Plan Services LLC, can assist with investment fiduciary services. Either option can take the pressure of selecting and monitoring investments off your business's HR team and reduce the risk of being audited by the IRS or the Department of Labor.

  • Compliance: ADP provides independent recordkeeping services to help your business stay on top of compliance requirements without the risk of bias. Its automation tools also reduce the risk of compliance-related errors, and the 401(k) Essential plan includes compliance readiness and testing, as well as government filings.

  • Online resources: ADP customers have access to a large library of online resources to help with plan administration, tax and compliance requirements, and investment decisions. Because ADP is a full-service HR platform, there are also resources related to payroll, recruiting and hiring, and other types of employee benefits.

  • Mobile app: The ADP mobile app makes it easier for employees to enroll. The integrated MyADP Retirement Snapshot calculator also lets employees calculate their retirement savings and plan for the future.

  • Employee tools: In addition to accessing ADP's mobile app, employees can take advantage of the ADP Achieve employee education resources and ADP's financial wellness program. 

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: ADP offers a variety of services in addition to employee retirement benefits. Consider using ADP if you also want to take advantage of the company's other offerings, such as payroll services.

Account Types

Businesses that choose ADP as their employee retirement benefits provider can select from a few types of employee retirement plans. Each plan has its own rules and regulations, as determined by the IRS.

  • 401(k): ADP offers a 401(k) plan wherein plan administrators must select and monitor investment options and handle compliance-related issues. Business owners can also select the 401(k) Essential plan, which includes more substantial customization, administration and compliance support.

  • 403(b): The 403b-Select plan is offered by ADP through Newport Retirement Services and enables integration between ADP's payroll service and Newport's recordkeeping services.

  • SIMPLE IRA: With administration fees as low as $480 per year, ADP's SIMPLE IRAs involve less paperwork and fewer compliance requirements than a 401(k) plan.

  • SEP IRA: A SEP IRA through ADP is designed for small business owners and self-employed individuals who want flexible contribution amounts and no required compliance filings. 

Investment Options

Companies that offer employee retirement plans through ADP get access to a wide selection of investment options, including the following:

  • Money market
  • Stock and income mutual funds
  • Index funds and lifestyle funds
  • Specialty funds, including real estate and technology
  • Socially responsible equity funds
  • Treasury Inflation Projected Security (TIPS) bonds

While ADP offers most of the typical investment options available in employer-sponsored retirement plans, the list of individual funds is relatively short. It's also unclear whether ADP allows companies to offer employee stock purchase plans through their retirement accounts.


Like many top employee retirement providers, ADP does not publish its pricing online. In general, though, prices vary based on plan customizations. If your business already uses ADP for payroll and other HR services, contact your account representative to learn more about ADP's retirement plan pricing. You can also get a quote via telephone or by navigating to Start Quote from the homepage. 

Ease of Use

Even though pricing is not disclosed on ADP's website, it's easy to build a plan and get a quote. Just click the Start Quote button on ADP's website and provide contact information and relevant details about your business. Once your request is submitted, an ADP representative will contact you to schedule a consultation. You can also get a quote by calling the company. 

Once you sign up for ADP's retirement benefit services, you can automate a number of tasks through the SMARTSync Comprehensive Plan Automation tool. You will also be assigned a specialized ADP manager who will help to streamline the setup and implementation. Customizations and implementation assistance are even more robust with the 401(k) Essential plan, which includes administrative fiduciary support, investment management support, compliance readiness and testing, and government filings. 

From the employee perspective, ADP's mobile app makes it easy to enroll in 401(k) benefits and to change investments, while the Retirement Snapshot calculator and online resources help employees research funds. If you're not sure if ADP is a good fit, you can request a demo to see how the platform and administrator dashboard work.

The ADP benefits dashboard provides an overview of employee benefits and allows team members to manage their retirement benefits directly.

Customer Service

Employers that use ADP get a personal representative who assists with setting up and otherwise administering the company's retirement plan. Beyond setup and implementation, automation tools make it easy to administer an ADP retirement plan by integrating the platform with a business's existing ADP payroll and HR services. There is also a client administrator support page that answers common questions. 

Likewise, employees can access several popular customer support topics to get quick answers and the most relevant contact information. There are also a number of educational resources and tools, including the ADP mobile app and the MyADP Retirement Snapshot calculator. 


While ADP is a very strong company, its retirement benefit services do have some drawbacks. For one, ADP does not disclose the fees for its retirement solutions online. Also, some of the investment options available through ADP's plans have relatively high fees. In addition, the company's basic 401(k) plan requires business owners to choose and monitor investments themselves, unless they employ an outside advisor.

What Is an Employee Retirement Benefits Provider?

An employee retirement benefits provider is a company that helps small business owners set up and administer retirement plans for themselves and/or their employees. Providers offer a range of services, including plan design, administration and recordkeeping. Companies also offer various types of plans, investment options, features and services, depending on the role they play.


Is ADP better than Gusto?

ADP is a much larger, more established company than Gusto. As such, it also has considerably more robust offerings, particularly with regard to payroll processing (ADP's core business). However, ADP is also less transparent about its pricing and likely to be more expensive in many cases.

TipTip: Read our review of Paychex employee retirement benefits to learn about another well-established company that provides comprehensive service.

How many employees do I need for ADP?

For most businesses to use ADP, they should have at least several dozen employees. For most small businesses, there are likely more cost-effective options for both payroll and employee retirement benefits services. 

TipTip: For alternatives to ADP, consider our review of Human Interest or our American 401k review.

Bottom Line

We recommend ADP for:

  • Small businesses that use ADP to manage their payroll and other HR needs.
  • HR administrators who need help with IRS compliance and other recordkeeping requirements.

We don't recommend ADP for:

  • Small businesses that don't have the resources to select and monitor plan investments.
  • Businesses that are not already using ADP's payroll and/or HR services.

Image Credit: Getty Images
ADP Employee Retirement

ADP Employee Retirement

The Verdict

ADP offers small businesses a variety of employee retirement plans. Integration with its payroll software, strong customer service and a hand-holding customer service approach makes it our best pick for small businesses.

Dock David Treece
Dock David Treece
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Dock David Treece is a contributor who has written extensively about business finance, including SBA loans and alternative lending. He previously worked as a financial advisor and registered investment advisor, as well as served on the FINRA Small Firm Advisory Board. He previously held FINRA Series 7, 24, 27, and 66 licenses.