ShareBuilder 401k Review

ShareBuilder Editor’s Score: 87/100

Transparent pricing 85/100
Low employee investment fees 100/100
Variety of plans 100/100
Customization 60/100
Integration with HR and payroll tools 90/100

Why ShareBuilder 401k Is Best for Low Investment Fees

ShareBuilder 401k is a great choice for low-fee plans because it keeps investment fees below 1%. This is in addition to its very low starting cost of $25 per month for solo 401(k) plans and $95 per month for companies with employees. Additionally, through ShareBuilder 401(k)’s automatic pricing discounts, your investment and administrative fees decrease as your employees’ invested assets increase. Sometimes, increases in plan participants can also lower your pricing.

It’s worth noting that ShareBuilder 401k is our top pick for low fees, whereas Human Interest is our top pick for affordability. Although both brands are competitively priced, Human Interest’s cost-saving efforts extend beyond low fees. Read our Human Interest review to learn why we think you get the most value for your dollar with this vendor.


  • ShareBuilder 401k guarantees that your investment fees will stay below 1%.
  • ShareBuilder 401k charges a flat monthly fee that may decrease as you add more assets or plan participants.
  • The company offers a wide selection of account types and investment options.


  • There are no IRA options.
  • ShareBuilder 401k does not offer a mobile app.


Unlike some top employee retirement providers, ShareBuilder does not offer multiple service tiers. Instead, employers can choose from four types of 401(k) plans: solo, safe harbor, traditional and tiered profit-sharing. Each of these tiers is available for a flat monthly administration fee. They all come with a range of services and features, such as investment management, payroll integration and online resources.

Additional Features

  • Plan administration: ShareBuilder’s solo 401(k) is fully administered, while other plan types include ongoing investment roster management, such as ERISA 3(38) coverage. ShareBuilder is competitive with ADP on this front, as both brands offer options with full administration.
  • Compliance and recordkeeping: ShareBuilder provides a fully administered solo 401(k) plan, including IRS Form 5500, as well as signature-ready Forms 5500 for other plan types.
  • Automatic discounts: ShareBuilder 401k automatically adjusts administrative costs and management fees based on the total number of participating employees and total plan assets. This feature is unique among the brands we reviewed.
  • Payroll integration: ShareBuilder integrates with many of the best payroll service providers, including ADP, Paychex, Paylocity and Zenefits. Employers can also choose to enter payroll manually.
  • Auto-enrollment: ShareBuilder’s safe harbor, traditional and tiered profit-sharing 401(k) plans include automatic enrollment with qualified default investment options.
  • Educational resources: Employees and employers can take advantage of ShareBuilder’s model portfolios, webinars, guides, videos and calculators to make investment decisions.
  • Dedicated success management: All ShareBuilder 401k accounts come with dedicated success managers. This ShareBuilder 401k contact will remain in touch throughout your setup period and long afterward. On this front, ShareBuilder 401k edges out Human Interest, a great pick that nevertheless only offers dedicated account management to the highest-paying customers.

Account Types

Small businesses that use ShareBuilder 401k to manage their employee retirement benefits can choose from several standard 401(k) plans. Each plan type has its own rules and regulations, as determined by the IRS.

  • Solo 401(k): Intended for self-employed business owners, ShareBuilder 401k’s solo 401(k) plan has Roth 401(k) and tax-deferred options. It offers access to the platform’s full range of investments.
  • Safe harbor 401(k): A safe harbor 401(k) lets owners and highly compensated employees contribute to their retirement plans without restrictions. Profit-sharing is available, matching is required, and employers automatically satisfy IRS requirements.
  • Traditional 401(k): An extremely flexible option that lets employers choose employer match amounts, vesting schedules and employee eligibility requirements. Profit sharing is optional, but unlike with a safe harbor 401(k), IRS testing is required.
  • Tiered profit-sharing 401(k): This type of 401(k) is aimed at incentivizing employees based on factors such as department and tenure. ShareBuilder’s tiered profit-sharing plan offers more advanced profit-sharing options than the platform’s other 401(k) plans.

Investment Options

ShareBuilder offers retirement plans that let employers and employees choose from 22 index funds, one money market and five model portfolios. Although the company’s list of available investment options is not incredibly long, it is a solid selection of diversified options that allow participants to invest at a low cost and without undue risk. We appreciated how easy this list was to find, as many other vendors are more secretive about their investment options.

Employees can choose investments from the following types of funds:

  • Equity funds
  • Bond funds
  • Specialty funds
  • Stable value funds

In addition, ShareBuilder offers model portfolios to help employees understand how to allocate their funds according to their preferred strategy.

Tip: If you’re looking for a retirement benefits provider with more extensive investment options, consider our review of ADP employee retirement or our Paychex employee retirement review.

ShareBuilder 401k Cost

ShareBuilder 401k’s base pricing is stated clearly on the company’s website. Final pricing and savings are based on the total number of plan participants and plan assets. There may also be a one-time setup fee.

  • Solo 401(k): Starts at $25 per month for administration
  • Safe harbor 401(k): Stars at $95 per month for administration
  • Traditional 401(k): Starts at $110 per month for administration
  • Tiered profit-sharing 401(k): Starts at $190 per month for administration

Automatic pricing discounts through ShareBuilder 401k are aimed at keeping management costs low as your business and plan assets grow. The total investment fee will always be under 1%.

For example, under a safe harbor plan with between 11 and 25 participants, the investment management fee is 0.75% if your team’s total plan assets add up to $499,999 or less, and the monthly administration fee is $145. As plan assets increase to between $500,000 and $1,999,999, the investment management and monthly administration fees decrease to 0.65% and $100, respectively.

We were impressed with how transparent ShareBuilder 401k is about its pricing. This transparency isn’t universal with our picks for the best employee retirement providers. Only one other provider that we reviewed, USA 401k, is arguably more transparent than ShareBuilder 401k. However, many employee retirement household names keep their prices hidden.

For the ultimate in employee retirement vendor transparency, read our USA 401k review.

Ease of Use

It can sometimes be a challenge to extend a good benefits program to employees that can boost company morale and reduce employee turnover, but that’s not the case with ShareBuilder 401k. To get started, call the sales team or click the Get Pricing button on the company’s homepage. Then, provide details about your business, including the company name, how many employees or owners you have, and whether or not you have an existing 401(k) plan. Next, indicate whether you already have a retirement plan and whether you need a safe harbor plan.

After that, ShareBuilder will recommend an appropriate plan for your needs and give you a quote. The process typically takes only five minutes, with another 10 to 20 minutes needed afterward to set up your account.

ShareBuilder users can log in to the administrator dashboard through the platform’s website. Notably, however, the company does not have a mobile app, whereas all our other top employee retirement picks do have mobile apps.

ShareBuilder 401k Customer Service

ShareBuilder 401k offers all users toll-free access to 401(k) advisors and customer care Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. According to a company representative, many calls are answered in 20 seconds or less.

All ShareBuilder 401k customers are paired with a dedicated success manager for further assistance. This feature is new – previously, it was available solely with the company’s highest pricing tiers. It distinguishes ShareBuilder from Human Interest, which still offers dedicated management only to the highest-paying customers.

ShareBuilder 401k’s online help center provides employers and employees with extensive tools and resources, including a 401(k) savings calculator and, when employees register, a personally guided education experience. Employees who decline this personal guide to their accounts must instead watch a seven-minute video before getting started.

ShareBuilder 401k Drawbacks

ShareBuilder 401k lacks IRA options as alternatives to 401(k)s. Conversely, ADP includes SIMPLE IRAs among its options; this type of retirement plan may work better for certain businesses and teams.

Unfortunately, ShareBuilder 401k doesn’t have a mobile application. This matters because mobile apps make it easy for employees and managers alike to manage benefits administration and investment planning anytime, anywhere. It’s also a drawback unique to ShareBuilder 401k. That said, in our conversations with ShareBuilder 401k company representatives, we were told an app could become available in roughly two years.


To figure out our top pick for low-fee employee retirement plans, we looked through prominent plan providers’ websites for fee information. We also spoke directly with company representatives to fill in any information gaps on their websites. Our goal was to establish which provider would deduct the least amount of money from employee and employer investments.

In our decision-making process, we prioritized the companies that were upfront with all their pricing details. The provider also had to be upfront about its plan types and investment options. This way, business owners know why they’re paying their fees, even when low. ShareBuilder 401k met all these criteria.

ShareBuilder 401k FAQs

What is ShareBuilder 401k?

ShareBuilder 401k is a 401k provider that caters to small and midsize businesses. The company focuses solely on this service rather than also overseeing payroll, HR and non-retirement employee benefits, as with some competitors.

Is ShareBuilder 401k good?

ShareBuilder 401k is a great employee retirement plan provider that offers diverse investment options, low investment fees and pricing discounts as your participating employees and invested assets increase.

Who acquired ShareBuilder 401k?

ING Direct acquired ShareBuilder 401k in 2007, and Capital One acquired ING Direct in 2012. More recently, in 2019, ShareBuilder 401k was spun off of Capital One and became an independent company again.

Did ShareBuilder leave Capital One?

ShareBuilder left Capital One in 2019, when the company, which had been acquired as part of Capital One’s acquisition of ING Direct in 2012, was spun off to an independent group that included some of the firm’s original founders.

Is ShareBuilder going away?

ShareBuilder was spun off of Capital One in 2019, but it is not going away. While the company is no longer part of Capital One, it is still accessible to existing customers and provides employer-sponsored retirement plans through its own independent offerings.

Overall Value

We recommend ShareBuilder 401k for …

  • Self-employed individuals who want an easy-to-manage solo 401(k).
  • Businesses that want to offer a safe harbor 401(k) with low fees.
  • Small business owners who want a hands-off way to offer an employee retirement plan.

We don’t recommend ShareBuilder 401k for …

  • Business owners seeking SIMPLE IRAs instead of 401(k) plans.
  • Businesses that need a mobile app for their employee retirement vendor.

Dock Treece also contributed to this article.