You may be an ERISA/401k fiduciary and not know it. The first step to reducing your personal fiduciary liability it to fully understand under what conditions you may be acting as a fiduciary.
The Arizona Republic, reporting on the Profit Sharing/401k Council of America conference in Scottsdale last week, wrote “many experts see rising use of annuities as the next innovation” in 401k plans. Who were these “experts?” Annuity salesmen?
Does creating an Investment Policy Statement (IPS) reduce fiduciary liability or augment it? Though there’s no clear agreement on this matter, the DOL has long maintained it has greater concern for processes than outcomes. Benefits attorneys often view memorializing the process through an IPS and documenting its successful implementation as the surest way to reduce fiduciary liability.
The 401k fiduciary typically searches for ways to reduce fiduciary liability. This can be done by hiring what the United States Department of Labor (DOL) terms “prudent experts,” particularly in the area of investments. The DOL permits a fiduciary to appoint, among others, a registered investment adviser to reduce personal fiduciary liability.
What most often triggers a DOL audit? What liability exposure does the ERISA/401k fiduciary typically face as a result of a DOL audit? Can a retirement plan fiduciary face criminal charges? What does the DOL auditor expect from the ERISA/401k fiduciary? What are the four critical keys the plan fiduciary should focus on during a DOL audit? Does the DOL have an ideal “Wish List of Materials” they expect an ERISA/401k fiduciary to provide them during a DOL audit?
Conducting a periodic plan diagnostic test is often seen as an easy way for the typical 401k fiduciary to reduce fiduciary liability. An ERISA plan trustee or fiduciary will usually hire an independent fiduciary consultant to conduct a comprehensive plan fiduciary diagnostic test. Here are five critical areas to consider.
Don’t ever buy a bond fund thinking you are diversifying into fixed-income assets. A bond fund more closely approximates an income-oriented equity fund than it does a fixed-income asset.
The Supreme Court will raise the visibility of the fee structure within the investments of nearly half of all 401k plan assets. Just because the powers that be say it’s so, doesn’t necessary mean your average fiduciary can rely on the decree. Indeed, the Supreme Court of the United States appears poised rule in favor of mutual fund shareholders, yet, at the same time, mislead both 401k investors and fiduciaries.