We help employers set up and manage their 401(k), 403(b), and pension plans.
Companies offering these plans are fiduciaries under federal law (primarily ERISA), which means they must act in the sole best interest of their employees participating in the plan. We manage this effort for our clients to help wade through the complexity, and to make sure they are always in compliance with applicable regulations.
We review the existing plan and look for opportunities for improvement. This may include reducing costs, improving investment performance potential, enhancing educational opportunities for participants, and ensuring documentation is up to date.
We are generally able to significantly reduce total plan costs for our clients. By using low-cost index funds, shopping for competitive TPA/recordkeeper services, and offering fair fees for our services, there usually is room for significant cost reduction. Everything is transparent with our plans. There are no commissions, “revenue sharing,” or other hidden costs. Lower plan costs remain in the plan to enhance the returns of plan participants. Costs are also an area of focus for Department of Labor audits, so managing them is important.
Numerous studies have shown that the vast majority of mutual funds under-perform their benchmarks, particularly over longer time periods. We remove the risk of under-performance, and of participant dissatisfaction, by using index funds. Historically, index funds have outperformed most actively-managed funds merely by tracking the market and keeping costs to razor thin levels.
We bring a menu of index funds and indexed target date funds that help ensure your participants earn fair returns over time. Poor investment performance has been a source of recent participant lawsuits, so making sure your funds are performing well is an important component of building an honest plan.
It is essential that your employees are well informed about their retirement options. However, most people have little interest in the mechanics of the investment markets. We provide regular sessions to help provide the information participants need to make smart retirement decisions. We strive to make these sessions informative, yet fun. Discussions may include:
- Individualized investment advice at one-on-one meetings
- Periodic group employee education and enrollment seminars
- A progressive curriculum of investment topics important to participants
- A regular review of the plan and its performance
- On-line tools that participants can access anytime to make changes to their investments or to learn more about the plan and its investments
One of the most important components of plan oversight is making sure documentation is up to date. We will review your plan document, make sure your 5500 properly reflects the details of your plan, and draft an investment policy statement. We also provide quarterly reports of your plan’s investment funds so you are always up to date.
The Department of Labor is cracking down on retirement plans that charge high fees, incur poor performance, and generally fail to meet their fiduciary obligations. Lawsuits from plan participants are also on the rise.
While DOL audits are rare, we have heard of even very small plans that have gone through them. Having a robust plan with fair costs and good documentation can go a long way toward saving you time and money if you are ever the subject of an audit.
More likely is the risk of a participant lawsuit. Even firms who offer retirement plan solutions, such as Fidelity, Deutsche Bank, MassMutual, Morgan Stanley, and Edward Jones have been sued by their employees for having subpar plans. For-profit corporations, not-for-profit organizations, higher educational institutions, and even small businesses have been the subject of recent litigation. Diving down costs, offering sound investments, and providing on-going education can all help avoid a costly lawsuit.
- Review your existing plan, including a full cost analysis.
- Propose improvements and new service providers to enhance the plan offering and reduce total plan costs.
- Implement the new plan, including plan document review, interfacing with the TPA/recordkeeper, and making sure the transition goes smoothly.
- Provide education to employees about the new plan and offer on-going service for the life of the plan.
- Oversee the investment funds to ensure they are providing the risk and return profile they promised, and to ensure fund expenses are kept to low levels.
- Report on the plan regularly to ensure the sponsor and participants are always up to date on plan activities.