Alex Goldberg

Alex Goldberg

Review: Human Interest 401(k)

Last updated on March 16th, 2021 at 08:01 pm

Human Interest is a fast-growing startup trying to make small business and startup 401(k) plans easier to administer and easier to use. The company was founded as Captain401 in 2015, rebranded as Human Interest in Q3 2020, and have raised $136.7M in venture funding to date, including just closing a $105M Series C.


Human Interest has built proprietary technology that integrates with 50+ payroll systems, including many of the most common such as Intuit Online Payroll with the Human Interest 401(k), saving time and making plan administration simpler.



A key advantage of Human Interest is that it works with new plans and small business plans that do not already have millions in assets. Human Interest is probably best for companies that do not yet offer a 401(k) plan up to $3 million in assets. The payroll integrations will make it easier to administer than many traditional providers, especially for fast growing companies onboarding many new employees.



Human Interest has several important differences from traditional small business 401(k) providers.


Unique Features of Human Interest vs Traditional 401(k) Vendors


  • High degree of fee transparency: Unlike many traditional 401(k) providers, who intentionally make it hard to understand the full price of the retirement plan, Human Interest has up front pricing split between what the company will pay and what the employees will pay.
  • Likes small business plans: This provider is happy to serve companies that do not yet have plans, and companies that have plans in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is different than most traditional providers, who only want to work with companies that already have millions in 401(k) assets.
  • Payroll integrations: Human Interest saves business owners time by linking 50+ payroll providers with the 401(k) system, eliminating time consuming (and error prone) administrative work.
  • Intuitive user experience: While many of the traditional providers are catching up with their web experience, Human Interest has the well designed user interface that you’d expect from a Silicon Valley technology company.
  • All-in-one: While most 401(k) providers rely on third parties, Human Interest has built it’s own in-house recordkeeping platform, so there’s no external partners to rely on. You and your employees can find everything related to the 401(k) in one spot.
  • No transaction fees: this includes for both employers and participants. If you’ve ever managed a 401(k) plan before, you may have heard of plan amendment fees, plan restatement fees, and/or plan termination fees. Likewise, participants in traditional 401(k) plans are charged additional fees on their qualified distributions (QDRO), loan initiation/maintenance fees, and more. With Human Interest, things are more transparent, and you don’t have to worry about these annoying hidden costs. In fact, in late 2020, Human Interest eliminated more than twenty 401(k) transaction fees.


Human Interest Pricing and Fee Schedule


Human Interest publishes transparent pricing on their website. If you work with an outside advisor who uses the Human Interest platform there may be additional fees.


  • Employer fees: $120 per month plus $4 per employee per month
  • Employee fees: 0.50% per year of assets plus approximately 0.07% per year in fund fees
  • Set up fees: $499, typically paid by the employer


Additional services are available for an additional fee including procuring the required ERISA bond, serving as a 3(16) fiduciary, signing and filing Form 5500 on your behalf, and having a dedicated account manager.


Human Interest's Fiduciary Protection


Human Interest offers two standard  levels of investment fiduciary protection to the plan sponsor: 3(38) or 3(21).


3(38) investment fiduciaries are responsible, and take legal liability for, choosing and monitoring the investment options in the plan. Human Interest will choose and update the funds in the 401(k) plan if the plan sponsor hires them as the 3(38) fiduciary.


3(21) investment fiduciaries act as co-fiduciaries, whereby Human Interest will provide advice to an employer with respect to funds on a 401(k) investment menu, but the employer will retain the discretion, and legal liability, of accepting or rejecting the advice.


Additionally in their more expensive / premium tiers — their Complete and Concierge packages — they can also act as a 3(16) fiduciary, meaning that they take on the legal liability for signing the Form 5500 for the Department of Labor and ensuring that the fund is perfectly administered.



Side bar: While you are shopping for a 401(k) for your startup, you may also want to compare online insurance companies Haven Life, Ethos, Ladder Insurance and Bestow. These online insurance companies make it simple to get various levels of life insurance coverage from a few hundred thousand dollars to millions. Ok, back to our regular programming.

Human Interest 401(k) Payroll Integrations

Human Interest can connect and process data from over 50 payroll providers (and counting). Here are a few of the  most prominent, with a full list below.

 Here’s the full list of payroll’s that Human Interest integrate with as of Q1 2021:


A&A Employer Services, Absolute Payroll, Ace Workforce Technologies, AccuPay Systems, Accurate Payroll, Run Powered by ADP, ADP TotalSource (Workforce Now payroll only), ADP Workforce Now, Apex, Apex Payroll, APS, Asure, BambooHR, Big Fish, Capital Payroll, Ceridian, Coastal Payroll, Complete Payroll, Crescent, Express Data Systems, GoCo, Green Leaf Business Solutions, Gusto, Heartland, HRmonious, Intuit Full Service Payroll, Intuit Online Payroll, QuickBooks Online, iSolved, Justworks, Kazdon, Keystone Payroll, Landmark Payroll, Managed Pay, Masspay, Namely, Netchex, Panacea Payroll, PayMedia, Paychex, Paycom, Payco, Paycor, Payday Employer Solutions, Paylocity, Payroll Hub, Payroll Plus HCM, Payroll Systems, PayUSA, Premier Now, Proliant, Proxus, Rippling, Savant HCM, Sequoia One PEO/Payroll, Solex HCM, Switch Payroll Services, The Payroll Company, Tolu Business Services, TRAX Payroll, The Payroll Network, TriNet Ambrose, TriNet Passport, Ultimate Kronos Group, Ultimate Software, Zenefits, and more…



Why is payroll integration so important, anyway?


Not all providers offer payroll integration, but it’s essential in our eyes because administering a 401(k) can be very manual, time consuming and error prone in a fast growing business. As the plan sponsor (the company sponsoring / offering the retirement plan), you are responsible for making sure that when employees make changes in payroll they are reflected in the 401(k). For example, if an employee reduces their savings rate from 10% to 6%, or if they get a raise, the person running the plan is legally required to make sure that the correct amount of money is taken out of the employee’s paycheck and deposited into their retirement account. There can be large penalties for getting this wrong, so this is a feature that works right out of the box for this vendor.



Human Interest 401(k) Features Overview

Human Interest 401(k)
formerly Captain401

Ideal client Size Small and medium-sized businesses
Investment Options Large number of low cost, passive investment options. Funds from every major asset class and risk category.
All in Cost Overall low cost; details below
Fiduciary Coverage

3(38) Investment Fiduciary or
3(21) Investment Fiduciary

3(16) Fiduciary services for an additional fee

Payroll Integration Yes, integrates with 50+ payroll providers
Pricing Details

Employer fees: $120 per month plus $4 per employee per month
Employee fees: 0.50% per year of assets plus approximately 0.07% per year in fund fees


See additional detail for Complete and Concierge packages

Setup Fee $499
Employee web experience Excellent
HR portal Very Good
401(k) Recordkeeper The vast majority of Human Interest clients use their internal record keeper, although a few legacy plans are still on Lincoln Trust, a well-established, respected recordkeeper
Mobile app? No


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The Verdict: Is Human Interest a legit 401(k) provider for small businesses?


Roger Lee, the co-founder and former CEO of Human Interest (formerly called Captain401), has said, “The retirement system today is hurting working Americans. Nearly half don’t even have access to a 401(k), and the ones who do are in badly mismanaged accounts.” The startup has written that they want it to be painless and easy for a small business to setup and run a retirement plan, and believe that it is important for them to act as fiduciaries.


According to their CEO, Jeff Schneble: “Human Interest 401(k) plans are affordable and easy to use, which means they’re great for employers who want to offer a 401(k) for the first time and haven’t offered a 401(k) before. And, for employers that already have a 401(k), we may be able to help reduce their costs. Today, when financial security matters more than ever, it’s important to offer a retirement benefit to your employees.”


Overall, Human Interest is an affordable option for any small business looking to offer a retirement plan benefit from scratch. If you have over 100 employees,  however, their fee structure may start to be cost prohibitive. The company is backed by solid venture capitalists and recently raised a $105m series C. If you’re a small business without a 401(k) plan currently that would like to help your employees save for retirement, Human Interest offers a solid dashboard for you (the plan sponsor) and your employees to engage with, all for a competitive cost.


Captain401 to Human Interest


FYI,  Human Interest was originally called Captain401, and changed its name to Human Interest in Q3 2020. The company has raised a substantial amount of venture capital – both when they were called Captian401 and under the new brand. The company has raised over $136 million in venture capital, and brought in a professional CEO, Jeff Schneble, replacing the founder Roger Lee in 2019..


More SMB 401(k) providers: What are the best alternatives to Human Interest?


If you’re unhappy with Human Interest, we recommend you take a look at Guideline next. They make it exceedingly easy to set up and manage your company’s 401(k), especially if you use Gusto for payroll. Check them out here:


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