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It’s annual review time. That part of the year when your 401k plan investment adviser visits to discuss what has happened in the markets and your plan during the prior year. As you consider the success of your annual review meeting, you may wish to evaluate the following investment adviser services you should be receiving.

Investment Adviser Services

Investment option performance review

This is the core set of investment adviser services you are paying for. Quarterly performance reviews with reports you can understand are pretty standard. You don’t have to meet quarterly, but it is reasonable to expect that you receive reports each quarter.

New investment option searches

Every now and then it will be necessary to replace an investment option in your menu. Your investment adviser should provide you with alternatives and the reports necessary to help you make a replacement decision. He/she should also guide you through a sound, fiduciary compliant, decision-making process.

Fiduciary compliance consulting – the IPS and more

Each year your investment adviser should take a look at your Investment Policy Statement (IPS) to ensure it is up-to-date. In addition, he/she should help you with 404(c) and QDIA compliance, plan document and records retention issues and vendor monitoring and oversight.

Help with employee education and communication

Most investment advisers lead the annual employee education sessions for their clients. They also are able to review any employee communications for you that impact the retirement plan.

Plan benchmarking assistance

Your investment adviser should be able to facilitate the production of a benchmarking report for your plan periodically – free of charge.

Plan design consulting

It is reasonable to expect that your investment advisor is able to review with you the suitability of the plan design changes that leading edge 401k plans are adopting.

Provider management and evaluation

You are not familiar with the services/costs that your recordkeeper, trustee, and custodian should be providing/charging. However, your investment adviser should be. He/she should be able to put your provider services and fees into perspective for you.

Make sure you are receiving the investment adviser services outlined above. If not, think about searching for a new 401k investment adviser.


About the Author

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

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

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 or visit the firm’s website at: Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

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.