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Review: Human Interest 401(k)

Human Interest is a new 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, and has raised over $14 million in venture capital. Human Interest has built proprietary technology that integrates payroll systems, like Intuit Online Payroll with the Human Interest 401(k), saving time and making administration simpler.



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



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 integration: Human Interest saves business owners time by linking several payroll providers with the 401(k) system, eliminating time consuming (and error prone) administrative work.
  • Solid 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.


Human Interest Pricing


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 0.08% per year in fund fees
  • $499 set up fee, typically paid by the employer

Fiduciary Protection


Human Interest offers two 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.


This provider does not act as a 3(16) ERISA administrative fiduciary, meaning that they do not take on the legal liability for signing the Form 5500 for the Department of Labor and ensuring that the fund is perfectly administered. This liability will stay with the plan sponsor, and specifically the individual signing the governmental paperwork.  



Human Interest 401(k) Payroll Integrations and Connections


  • Gusto
  • Intuit Online Payroll



Not all provider offer payroll integration. Payroll integration is important 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.




Features Overview



Human Interest 401(k)
formerly Captain401

Client Size Small businesses and startups with over a million in retirement assets, usually over 100 employees
Investment Options Large number of low cost, passive investment options
No target date funds
Low cost model + managed portfolio
All in Cost Overall low cost; details below
Fiduciary Coverage 3(38) Investment Fiduciary or
3(21) Investment Fiduciary
Payroll Integration Yes, integrates with Gusto and Intuit Online Payroll (Quickbooks)
Pricing Details Employer fees: $120 per month plus $4 per employee per month
Employee fees: 0.50% per year of assets plus approximately 0.08% per year in fund fees
Setup Fee $499
Employee web experience Excellent
HR portal Very Good
401(k) Recordkeeper Lincoln Trust, a well-established, respected recordkeeper
Mobile app? No



Human Interest Overview


Roger Lee, the co-founder and 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 401k, 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.


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