Fiduciary Compliance

In an effort to keep clients and business partners up to date on 401k plan fiduciary compliance issues, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC suggests the following resources.

401k Investment Adviser Annual Reviews – What Employers Should Expect. At least once each year, 401k plan sponsors should be meeting with their investment adviser to review what happened in the plan during the prior year to ensure 401k plan fiduciary compliance. This post outlines what the annual review should cover.

Are You A Fiduciary? (PDF). Clients often ask which people in their organizations are fiduciaries to their retirement plans and exactly what it means to be a fiduciary. Many times, clients are surprised by the answers they get. You may be as well.

BlackRock Interview With Robert C. Lawton (PDF). Robert C. Lawton, President of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, is interviewed by former Wall Street Journal editor and BlackRock executive Kelly Greene on how to design the best 401k plan.

Does Your 401k Investment Adviser Measure Up? Each year retirement plan sponsors should take time to evaluate their providers. Included in this group is your 401k investment adviser. Most plan sponsors use an investment adviser to help them with their 401k plans. This is a smart decision since many advisers are able to save plan sponsors at least as much as they charge. This post will help you learn if you are working with the right 401k investment adviser.

Fiduciary Confusion: What’s A 401k Plan Sponsor To Do? There has been some confusion regarding the fiduciary responsibilities 401k plan sponsors have. This post outlines what 401k plan sponsors should do to remain compliant.

How To Avoid A DoL 401k Audit. According to PLANSPONSOR, there are an average of 3,600 Department of Labor (DoL) qualified retirement plan audits per year. Annual settlements related to violations typically total more than $1.5 billion annually. This post contains some suggests that may help you avoid a DoL audit of your 401k plan.

How To Evaluate Your 401k Investment Advisor. Each year you should spend some time evaluating the providers who work with your 401k plan. Assessing the performance of your 401k investment advisor is often the most difficult since he/she may be the captain of your 401k provider team. How can you tell if your 401k investment advisor is doing a good job? Check this post to find out!

New Fiduciary Compliance Regs: A Win For Plan Sponsors. In 2016 the Department of Labor (DoL) issued its final fiduciary compliance regs for investment advisors working with retirement accounts. The rules were aimed specifically at brokers, bankers, and insurance advisors who provide investment advice to clients under the “suitability” requirement (which exempted brokers from being fiduciaries). The issuance of these final fiduciary compliance regs ends a long war that the brokerage industry waged against regulators, employing all manner of threats to avoid fiduciary responsibility (e.g.; small clients will not be able to receive investment advice — absolutely ridiculous) and spending millions on intense political lobbying. Who won? Remarkably, plan sponsors!

Nine Questions Employers Have About Fiduciary Responsibility. Many 401k plan sponsors have questions about their fiduciary responsibilities. This post includes the most frequent questions that I hear, along with answers.

Plan Sponsors Should Support Harmonization Of Fiduciary Regulations. There are significant differences between how Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) and brokers interact with their retirement plan clients from a fiduciary standpoint. There shouldn’t be. Why harmonization of the regulations makes sense.

What 401k Plan Sponsors Want To Know About The New Fiduciary Regs. Since the Department of Labor released its final fiduciary compliance rules, there has been a tremendous amount of media coverage devoted to what plan sponsors need to know about the new fiduciary regs. Although much of it has been well written with good intentions, most of it has been wrong and has only served to confuse plan sponsors. Based on what I am hearing from plan sponsors, this is what you say you want to know about the new fiduciary regs.

What To Look For In A Top 401k Investment Adviser. Most employer plan sponsors use an investment adviser to help them with their 401k plans. This is a smart decision since most advisers are able to save plan sponsors at least as much as they charge. How can you tell if you are working with a good investment adviser? This post provides some tips.

What Your 401k Investment Committee Should Discuss. Wondering if you are talking about the right stuff at your investment committee meetings? Check out this post to learn what you should be discussing.

Which Fiduciary Should 401k Plan Sponsors Hire – 3(16), 3(21) or 3(38)? There has been quite a bit of discussion about whether plan sponsors should contract with their administrative providers for section 3(16) fiduciary services. Outlined in this post are the different types of fiduciary services available to plan sponsors and when it might make sense to use them.

Why All 401k Plan Sponsors Should Use BrokerCheck. Are you working with an honest investment advisor on your 401k plan? One way to find out is by using BrokerCheck — a free service provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This post outlines how you can use BrokerCheck to research the background of your investment advisor. Don’t worry, financial advisors are not informed when you use the service to check their backgrounds.

Your 401k Plan’s IPS Should Include These Items. Does your 401k plan have an updated Investment Policy Statement (IPS)? Although you aren’t required by law to have one, the IPS is one of your plan’s most important documents. Take a look at this post to learn why having an updated IPS is so important.

Additional Resources

Understanding Retirement Plan Fees And Expenses, from the DoL

This booklet from the U.S. Department of Labor is intended to help employers understand the fees and expenses associated primarily with 401k plans.

Meeting Your Fiduciary Responsibilities, from the DoL

If you are looking for information about employer 401k plan fiduciary responsibilities, this 20-page PDF booklet from the Department of Labor is an excellent resource.

401(k) Plan Checklist, from the IRS

A very nice one-page checklist from the Internal Revenue Service for employers to review each year to ensure that they are meeting their plan sponsor responsibilities.

Unsure if the fees you’re paying your 401k providers are reasonable?

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12 Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your 401k Plan

After working with hundreds of 401k plans for more than 30 years, I have compiled a list of low-cost quick fixes that can make a big difference in your 401k plan. Click the button below and complete the form to download the list.