Offering an easy way to meet a state mandate

See why North Valley Counseling chose Guideline’s 401(k) to help them meet their state’s retirement mandate.

North Valley Counseling at a glance

  • 10 employees

    Company size

  • Healthcare


  • New 401(k)

    Plan type

Simply put, Guideline 401(k) is a 10 out of 10. Guideline makes offering a 401(k) easy — and it just works.Client of Guideline. Views may not be representative of other clients.
  • Challenges

    State program had complicated admin, high employee fees, and no individualized customer support.

  • Why Guideline

    Integrated payroll and seamless admin, plus low costs and 40+ investment options for employees.

  • Results

    Automated payroll deductions have saved time and Guideline support has led to high employee satisfaction.


As the owner of North Valley Counseling, Cliff Jacobson wears a lot of hats. He’s the CEO, treasurer, head of HR, and a licensed clinical therapist with his own full roster of clients. Needless to say, Cliff stays busy — and he already had a lot on his plate when his state rolled out a new retirement mandate.

The new state mandate requires employers with 5 or more in-state employees to offer a company-sponsored retirement plan — either the state-run program or a private plan. With about 10 employees, North Valley Counseling had to act.

Cliff's primary concern was being in compliance with the new law, but when he looked at the state’s retirement offering, he didn’t love what he saw. "High maintenance fees and limited choice in investments weren't attractive. It was clear that there was also going to be a lot of paperwork and compliance stress. I really did not want to do that. It was worth it to me to find an alternative to the state program,” Cliff explained.

It was clear that there was also going to be a lot of paperwork and compliance stress. I really did not want to do that. It was worth it to me to find an alternative to the state program


When researching 401(k) providers for small businesses, Guideline stood out for a number of reasons. He liked that Guideline had:

  • Low asset fees for employees — up to 7x lower than the industry average
  • Broad investment options, which gave his team more choice
  • Full integration with his payroll provider, QuickBooks Online, making admin easier
  • Employee self-serve tools and support that reduce questions from his team

Cliff kicked off the 401(k) setup process right from his QuickBooks account and plan selection was simple, easy to understand, and came with great support.
Guideline 401(k) customer service is incredible. Clear, totally supportive, and an actual person on the phone whenever you need them.


Over the last year, offering a 401(k) with Guideline has been a big win for Cliff and his team. “My team is super happy, and I’m happy that I had an alternative to the state program.”

Thanks to the Guideline mobile app, it’s convenient for his employees to update their investment portfolios or contributions without having to go through Cliff as a middle man. Plus, if his team has questions, they call Guideline directly.

“With Guideline 401(k), my employees pay fewer service fees and have more investment funds and thus more diversity. Plus, Guideline is seamlessly connected to my QuickBooks account and does everything for me. I do very little outside of being notified of withdrawals and deposits.”

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This information is general in nature and is for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for specific tax, legal and/or financial advice that considers all relevant facts and circumstances. You are advised to consult a qualified financial adviser or tax professional before relying on the information provided. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.