BlueStar Retirement: Services, Ratings, Pros & Cons of working with it.
BlueStar Retirement Services Inc. is a company that offers retirement services that make it simple for employers to help their employees to retire. The firm also has participants' solutions to help individuals to enjoy better control of their retirement life.
The company, whose headquarters is based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is legally permitted to offer services to investors in different states such as Florida, Texas, and others.
Even though the company’s website has no details on its website that state anything about the year that it was founded or started its operations, information from other sources shows that the company has been around since 1997 or so.
If that information is anything to go by, that would mean that the company has been providing its services for approximately 23 years.
While this may not be a lot of time as compared to other service providers that have been in service for more than 100 years, it’s definitely enough time for the company to build trust among its customers.
One thing that you ought to keep in mind about this company, however, is that it is not a registered broker-dealer, which automatically means that it is not authorized to buy or sell securities whether for its clients’ or its own accounts.
Securities, in this case, would be exchangeable fiscal investments such as bonds, equities, and options. Instead, the company has to use services from a broker-dealer firm to make that possible.
Even though BlueStar may not have expanded its services to the nationwide level, there probably is a plan underway to make that happen. As a result, not much history is available online about the company.
In terms of size, however, this is quite a larger company when compared with other companies of the same caliber. The employees listing on the company’s website shows that the company has a total of 93 employees, which means that it has the capacity to expand even more, as it has been doing over the years.
Information from different online resources indicates that the company started its operations with approximately 29 employees based in different areas of service.
Having grown to 93 employees means that the company has had a positive experience in business, which can further increase the confidence that the customers have towards the company.
BlueStar Retirement Services Inc. Ratings
Unlike other firms in the insurance and retirement services industry, this firm has not been rated by rating companies such as A.M. Best. One of the main reasons why that may have happened is the fact that this is not an insurance company.
That, however, does not mean that the company has no ratings whatsoever. There are customer ratings of the company on different online platforms, and while some are good there are others that show a lot of dissatisfaction and bitterness from some users.
If the ratings from these customers are to be trusted, the company may not be providing the best services that a potential retiree would hope for. The company has a rating of 2.6 out of 5 on Google, and as if that is not enough there have been 6 complaints about the company from customers on the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Out of the 6 complaints submitted to the BBB, 4 are from the last three years whereas 2 were filed within the last 12 months. A majority of the customers cite poor customer service as the main reason for their dissatisfaction when dealing with the company.
Here is a quick summary of what customers think about different aspects of BlueStar Retirement Services Inc.
1. Negative reviews
BlueStar has quite a number of negative reviews with 1-star ratings on Google. The majority of customers who write such reviews express serious disappointment in the company, especially in terms of how their problems were handled.
- Customer service
One of the main reasons why this company receives lots of 1-star ratings from companies is the quality of the service provided by their customer support team. Most of the customers have termed the staff as being rude, and unhelpful.
According to the reviews submitted to Google for publishing, some customers have had to put up with unanswered emails, unfriendly phone calls, and unending delays when it comes to settling customer issues.
There is also more than one case where a customer’s call is placed on hold, without the option of know how long the period is supposed to last.
One customer claimed that they were put on hold for 45 minutes, without any feedback from the other end to assure them that the issue was being resolved.
There have been quite a number of customers that have questioned the transparency of BlueStar Retirement Services Inc. owing to the fact that things such as closing your account with them can result in undeclared charges.
As you can expect, when it comes to providing services in which money is involved, transparency is key.
A lot of the 1-star reviews about the company on Google are about customers describing situations that would be best described as the efforts of a company in defrauding its customers. Loss of money is not the only issue.
Some customers also claim that their investments with the company seemed to show very little to no growth at all for months to more than a year.
As if those are not bad-enough experiences, several customers also claimed not being able to log into their accounts after a change of ownership. In most cases, the customers who had such experiences simply lost their money in the end.
2. Positive reviews
One thing that you would quickly note when reading these reviews is that there is also a good number of positive reviews. Just like with the negative reviews, there is a good number of customers who claim that they were served well by the customer support staff.
Such polarizing reviews of the company would leave you wondering what the reason behind the differing opinions of the company is.
According to one user, the answer is simple:
BlueStar Inc. is a third-party administrator, which means that the firm does not have anything to do with the underlying investments, plans, and/or strategies (this is in line with what was mentioned earlier in this article). According to the reviewer, therefore, the people who “lost money” did not actually lose their money.
Since BlueStar is not the company handling the customers’ investments, a case of lost money would simply be the result of a customer choosing the wrong investment.
According to the reviewer, BlueStar provides its participants with educational material to help them make an informed choice when it comes to taking investment risks.
The end decision of what investments to choose, however, is made by the customer. As such, the reason for the complaints, according to the reviewer, might be a majority of participants not taking their time to make educated choices when it comes to investing.
While there is a chance that the information from the user may or may not be true, it makes perfect sense, if you come to think of it. As we mentioned earlier, this firm is not a registered broker-dealer.
Since the main services that they provide revolve around providing 401(k) administration services, it is not out of the ordinary to come across customers who have bad experiences after their employers or they themselves made the wrong investment choices.
Going by the reviews from the different customers, therefore, it can be a little bit challenging to make a conclusion as to whether BlueStar Retirement Services Inc. is a company that potential retirees should choose or not.
As it seems, however, if you would like to use services from the company, you have to ensure that you are provided with as much information beforehand as possible, so that everything becomes clear.
The packages that BlueStar provides are grouped into different types, to meet varying customer needs. The three main categories of solutions from BlueStar are:
- Solutions for sponsors
- Solutions for advisors
- Solutions for participants
Here’s a quick overview of each product, as per the information provided by the company:
1. Solutions for sponsors
This one is a product that allows employees and other customers that are classified as sponsors to design a retirement plan with added ease. The main features of this solution include:
- Automatic enrollment and escalation
- New comparability plans
- Contribution maximization
- DV/DB combo plans
- Safe harbor plans
If you choose this solution, the company will deliver the retirement plan notices to the employees’ (participants’) home addresses, rather than you as the employer having to do it. That way, the involved participants can stay informed.
Not only that, but BlueStar also integrates this solution with payroll providers to make it easier to manage salaries.
That way, the overall workload that an employer’s company is tasked with can reduce a lot. To crown it all, BlueStar Inc. has a portal where employers can access the information that they need wherever they are and whenever they need it.
2. Solutions for advisors
This solution is mainly geared towards providing advisors with the tools that they need to assists both sponsors and their employees.
That way, both parties are provided with information that will ensure the proper running of retirement plans. The tools provided with this solution also make it easier for advisors to discharge their duties with increased ease.
3. Solutions for participants
It’s not only sponsors who would benefit from retirement plan data. Participants can also benefit from retirement readiness analyses.
To ensure that participants are also covered, BlueStar has this package that is aimed at ensuring that participants have enough information about how they can optimize their readiness for retirement.
This is done by BlueStar’s sponsor/advisor portal delivering granular and aggregate retirement readiness data, so as to pave way for reliable data-driven engagement of the participants.
Other than having the option of being enrolled with so much ease, participants can also get the help that they would need from customer support staff without having to follow a complicated process.
In the spirit of effective communication, BlueStar also has a well-developed notification system that comes in handy at ensuring that participants are well-informed.
There are also communication campaigns that are focused on meeting the different plans and participant needs.
Pros and cons of choosing BlueStar Retirement Services Inc.
Of course, there have to be various merits and demerits of using the services that BlueStar offers.
From the information in the rating section, you may have already noted an advantage or two, as well as some demerits. Let’s try to list all the pros and cons in this section.
- An intuitive app that makes it easier to access information when you need it
- Easy enrollment process
- Solutions that meet both employers’ and employees’ needs
- A portal with tools that make it easier for advisors to assist both sponsors and participants
- A well-designed website that is generally informative to the users
- Bad customer experience by some customers
- This company does not handle retirement products directly
- Not all information is available on their site (you may have to make several inquiries)
Is BlueStar Retirement Services Inc. the right company for potential retirees?
If you are looking for a company that can offer 401 (k) administration services, then this might be a company worth considering.
One thing, however, that has come out clear during this review is that you have to be a little bit cautious especially when it comes to getting the information that you need to make your investment decisions.
You will want to make lots of inquiries if something is not clear before enrolling, and if required, you can ask for written documents where you need assurance, to ensure that you have something to refer to.
If possible, you can also try to contact someone who has used services from BlueStar Inc. to have a near-first-hand view of the company.
With different recordkeepers and TPA firms to help provide some of the retirement services that retirees would enjoy having, you will want to do a little bit more shopping around and reading reviews or comparison articles.
Keep in mind that while this business has some not-so-appealing reviews on Google, it has been around for some time now.
That, however, does not automatically mean that you should place all your trust in one place.
As mentioned earlier, one of the foolproof ideas would be to consult a few people who have used the company to know what opinions they have. While doing that, be sure to consult both the parties that have had a good experience and the ones that have had a nasty experience.