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Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Buck!

Negotiating Retirement Plan Fees with Your Provider According to plan sponsors, one of the most harrowing aspects of their fiduciary obligations is to ensure that plan fees are reasonable. From administration and record-keeping to compliance and investment management, how can a plan sponsor feel assured that they are aware of all plan fees, understand them thoroughly and then determine their fair and reasonableness? It’s quite a task! Best practices dictate fee bench-marking as a valid method of determining fee…

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The Importance of Qualitative Review


The qualitative review of a mutual fund helps support the quantitative analysis within the Scorecard System™ by providing color and insight into the portfolio and the investment performance. The qualitative review process is structured in its approach and designed to identify the factors that will ultimately drive future investment performance. The 3 primary factors include: People, Process and Philosophy. The baseline criteria are set for each: People: Is there an experienced team with the ability to manage both philosophy…

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What to Expect When Transitioning Providers


The thought of transitioning from one service provider to another may be intimidating and overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. If you work with an experienced conversion team, the transitioning process should be seamless. If a plan sponsor is unhappy with its current provider’s services and technology, it may very likely want to switch providers. Furthermore, if the plan sponsor feels it or its participants are not receiving sufficient value for the fees being charged, it may explore the idea…

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Waiver of 60-Day Rollover Requirement

rules regulations waivers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows distributions to be excluded from income if they are rolled over to an eligible retirement plan or Individual Retirement Account (IRA) within 60 days. Revenue Procedure 2016-47 offers additional guidance for the waiver, as well as a self-certification process that details how a taxpayer could accomplish a rollover that does not meet the 60-day requirement under certain circumstances Conditions for Written Self-Certification Before a taxpayer may self-certify that the 60-day waiver has been…

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Allowable Plan Expenses: Can the Plan Pay?

The payment of expenses by an ERISA plan (401(k), defined benefit plan, money purchase plan, etc.) out of plan assets is subject to ERISA’s fiduciary rules. The “exclusive benefit rule” requires a plan’s assets be used exclusively for providing benefits. ERISA also imposes upon fiduciaries the duty to defray reasonable expenses of plan administration. General principles of allowable expenses include the following: The expenses must be necessary for the administration of the plan. The plan’s document and trust agreement…

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Organizing Your Fiduciary File

As a plan sponsor and fiduciary of your company’s retirement plan, keeping an up-to-date fiduciary file is critical. To begin, we recommend preparing your file in four key sections; contents of each section could include the following: I. Documents: plan document, IRS determination letter, summary plan description, investment policy statement, 404(c) policy statement and notice, form 5500s, service provider contracts, nondiscrimination test results, corporate tax returns, corporate board resolutions, etc. II. Administrative: evidence of employer contributions, distribution documents, audit…

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Conflict of Interest of Fiduciary Rule: A Plan Sponsor’s Q & A – Part I

After years of proposed regulation issuance, comment periods, drafting and anticipation, the Department of Labor (DOL) finally published final guidance regarding the definition of “fiduciary” on April 8, 2016. It is important for plan sponsors to understand the reasoning behind, and the scope, of the final rules. The following Q&A is meant to assist you in understanding the regulations and how they pertain to you, your plan and your participants. Q: Why did the DOL issue these new rules? A: The definition of “fiduciary” for purposes of providing…

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Are You Excluding Part-Timers From the Retirement Plan?

Many plan sponsors mistakenly believe that they are not required to offer the retirement plan to part-time employees. Regardless of what type of retirement plan you have, all employees, including part-time employees that work 1,000 hours in a year, must be offered the retirement benefit. Though your plan may contain a service requirement that essentially prevents “part-timers” from ever becoming eligible (such as a one year and/or 1,000 hours requirement), part-time employees may NOT categorically be excluded as a…

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What Constitutes Proper Documentation of Retirement Plan Committee Meetings?

With most retirement plans, the fiduciary responsibility of selecting and monitoring the plan’s menu of investments is designated to a retirement plan investment committee. This committee usually includes financial officers and human resources officers of the employer. The committee meets periodically (anywhere from annually to quarterly) to consider agenda items including investment due diligence, fees and services of plan providers, status of plan goals, etc. From a fiduciary perspective it is just as important to properly document these meetings…

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The High Price of Yield and Perceived Safety

Since the inception of markets, there have been particular investments that garnered the attention of investors above all others. In the 1600s it was the tulip mania and at the turn of this century, tech stocks had investors’ focus. Although not to the extent of these examples, currently low-volatility dividend paying stocks are the rage du jour in this low-yielding uncertain market environment. The lack of yield available on bonds has driven yield-thirsty investors to bond proxies for income,…

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