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Human Interest 401(k) Review – Is it the Best Low-Cost Retirement Plan?

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Our Rating: 4.2 / 5

Human Interest is a popular 401(k) provider for small and medium-sized businesses.. The company was founded as Captain401 in 2015, rebranded as Human Interest in Q3 2018, and have raised $336M in venture funding to date, including most recently closing a $200M Series D in August 2021.


Human Interest has “no-touch” integrations with 50+ leading HCM providers to eliminate the burden of managing your 401(k) plan. These robust payroll integrations make it easier to administer than many traditional providers, especially for fast growing companies who are constantly onboarding new employees. The company works with small businesses that do not already have millions in assets, along with firms who already have a 401(k) but would like a new provider.


In this article, we’ll review Human Interest and highlight several key 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. In fact, Human Interest has 2x the industry average for participation rate because of its easy onboarding and built-in investment advice.
  • All-in-one: While most 401(k) providers rely on third parties, Human Interest has built its own in-house recordkeeping platform, so there’s no external partners to rely on. You and your employees can find everything related to your 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.


  • 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


They offer three plan levels and additional time-saving services are available in the Complete and Concierge plans, 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.

Note: if you work with an outside advisor who uses the Human Interest platform, the advisor fees can be passed through. 

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. Thus Human Interest will choose and update the funds in the 401(k) plan when you (the plan sponsor) hire 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. Signing a form for you each year may not sound like much, but in reality it provides a lot of peace of mind because it means if the plan is audited and found to be out of compliance, Human Interest will be on the hook.



Side bar: While you are shopping for a 401(k) for your startup, you may also want to compare mental health benefits for your employees. You may also be interested in our comparison of online insurance companies such as Haven Life, Ethos, Ladder Insurance and Bestow. These 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

One of the biggest benefits of working with a modern 401(k) startups is payroll integration. Human Interest can connect and process data from over 50 payroll providers, and is adding more every day. 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 Q3 2021:


A&A Employer Services, ABCS Payroll, Absolute Payroll, Ace Workforce Technologies, AccuPay Systems, Accurate Payroll, Run Powered by ADP, ADP TotalSource (Workforce Now payroll only), ADP Workforce Now, AIU Payroll, Alliant HR, Apex, Apex Dothan Alabama, Apex
Payroll, APS, Astra Payroll Services, Asure, BambooHR, BFP Services, Big Fish, Capital
Payroll, Century Pay, Ceridian, CertiPay, Checkmate HCM, Coastal Payroll, Complete Payroll, CPM Employer Solutions, Crescent, Crescent Payroll Solutions, CSI Accounting & Payroll, DM Payroll Solutions, Evolution Payroll Services, Express Data Systems, EZ Payroll, GoCo, Green Leaf Business Solutions, Gusto, Heartland, Hire Level, HRmonious, Innovative Business Solutions (IBS), Insight Merchant Solutions, Integrity Payments HCM, Intuit Full Service Payroll, Intuit Online Payroll, QuickBooks Online, iSolved, Justworks, Kazdon, Keystone Payroll, Landmark Payroll, Managed Pay, Masspay, Moulton & Hardin Inc., Namely, Netchex, Next HR Solutions, On-Time Payroll, Panacea Payroll, Paragon Payroll, Paramount HCM, Pay’N’Time, Paychex, Payco, Paycom, Paycor, Payday Employer Solutions, Paylocity, PayMedia, Payroll Data Processing, Payroll Ea$e, Payroll Hub, Payroll Network, Payroll Partners, Payroll Plus HCM, Payroll Services LLC, Payroll Systems, Payrolls Plus, PayrollEasy, PayUSA, PCS HCM, People Guru, Portland Payroll, Premier Now, Proairus, Proliant, Proxus, RenderHR, Rippling, Salsbury & Co, Savant HCM, SelfBiz, Sequoia One PEO/Payroll, SHS Payroll, Solex HCM, Southland Data Processing, Star Pay, Switch Payroll Services, The Payroll Company, Thread, Tolu Business Services, TRAX Payroll, The Payroll Network, TriNet Ambrose, TriNet Passport, TruPay, Ultimate Kronos Group, Ultimate Software, Wage Wizards, Wurk, YAP Payroll, 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) plan 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 feature of Human Interest saves a ton of time and headache.



Human Interest 401(k) Features Overview

Human Interest 401(k)
formerly Captain401

Ideal client SizeSmall and medium-sized businesses
Investment OptionsThousands of funds including low-cost funds from
Vanguard, target-date, and SRI funds. Built-in advice creates a personalized portfolio based on your
circumstances and automatically rebalances
portfolios quarterly.
All in CostOverall low cost; details below
Fiduciary Coverage

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

3(16) Fiduciary services for an additional fee

Payroll IntegrationYes, 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 experienceExcellent
HR portalVery Good
401(k) RecordkeeperThe 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?

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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 $200m series D.


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 solid dashboards for both you, the plan sponsor, as well as plan participants (i.e. your employees), 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 2018. The company has raised a substantial amount of venture capital – both when they were called Captain401 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.


Human Interest alternatives: What other SMB 401(k) providers should you consider?

When it comes to competitors, there are a few Human Interest alternatives you should check out that also leverage technology to streamline 401(k) admin. Our favorites are:



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. Read our in-depth Guideline review or check them out here:



Vestwell is another top pick. We love how flexible their platform is for plan sponsors, participants, and 401(k) advisors alike. Read our full review of Vestwell for more details.

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