The Department of Labor (DoL) feel it is important that you, as a 401k plan sponsor, review your providers at least every 3 to 5 years. One way to check on the status of the financial advisor working with your 401k plan is by using BrokerCheck — a free service provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA is the regulator for all securities firms doing business in the U.S. Their primary objective is to protect investors.
BrokerCheck lists any financial advisor violations of investment-related regulations or statues and will also tell you whether your financial advisor is licensed to do business in your state. Don’t worry, your financial advisor will not be informed about whether you used the service to check his/her background.
BrokerCheck will tell you:
Whether there have been any customer complaints filed against your advisor;
The status or resolution of these complaints;
Whether your advisor has been disciplined for any reason;
If your advisor violated any rules or regulations;
Whether your advisor has been terminated for any violations; and
If your advisor is currently under investigation by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) or FINRA.
Any complaint or violation that you find listed should be considered serious. Studies have found that advisors who offend tend to re-offend. The service is easy to use.
1. Going to the BrokerCheck website;
2. Enter your advisor’s full name (it is helpful to know the adviser’s middle name or initial since there are over 650,000 advisors nationwide) and click on “Search” once the correct name appears;
3. After your advisor’s name appears on a new page, click on “Details”;
4. Should a “Disclosure Event” appear, click on “Detailed Report” to receive more information.
Whether you are looking for an advisor to help with your personal investments or searching for an advisor to work with your retirement plan, the very best time to use BrokerCheck is before you hire someone. However, periodic checks of your advisor’s status are also important. Consider checking your advisor using BrokerCheck today!
Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS is the founder and President of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC. Mr. Lawton has over 30 years of retirement plan consulting and administration experience and has provided consulting services to many Fortune 500 companies including: Aon Hewitt, Apple Inc., AT&T, First Interstate Bank, Florida Power & Light, General Dynamics, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IBM, John Deere, Mazda Motor Car Company, Northwestern Mutual, Northern Trust Company, Trek Bikes, Tribune Company, Underwriters Labs and many others. Mr. Lawton may be contacted at (414) 828-4015 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, vendor management and plan design services to 401(k) plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or email@example.com or visit the firm’s website at: http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.
This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.