The retirement plan marketplace is a buyer’s market right now. Plan sponsors that haven’t shopped around in the past couple years might not be getting the most value for their money.
“The retirement marketplace is constantly changing with the addition of new products and services and the compression of costs,” says John Adzema, Vice President of Sales and Consulting at Tegrit Group. “Plan sponsors need to be aware and take advantage of these enhancements.”
Smart Business spoke with Adzema about the necessity of reviewing and benchmarking your retirement plan.
How often should plan sponsors have retirement plans reviewed?
Have your plan reviewed every three years or as certain events dictate, such as company acquisitions/divestitures, workforce changes, etc. You also could look at your company and its demographics to see if it makes sense to add another plan type such as cash balance, employee stock ownership or non-qualified.
What should you discuss with your financial advisor during a review?
As the plan quarterback, the financial advisor typically is tasked with overseeing plan investments, taking some type of a fiduciary role and managing the involved service providers. So, you should ask:
- Are my plan costs reasonable?
- Are my plan’s service providers, including the financial advisor, meeting service standards and helping me meet my fiduciary requirements?
- Are the plan investments performing as expected?
- Is my plan receiving the best consulting and latest technology?
- Are my employees getting the investment help they need?
What could happen if plans aren’t reviewed?
Even though you might not change anything, you need to compare your plan to the marketplace. You may save on costs or be able to expand to another fund family. You could get more tools for participants, website capabilities and educational materials. If your company acquires another firm and the plan assets increase from $1.5 million to $8 million, not only do you need to review from an operational standpoint to ensure compliance, but as a bigger plan you’ll have more purchasing power.
There can be legal consequences as well. In March, a court ruled against the plan fiduciaries in Tibble v. Edison International because they selected retail mutual funds with higher fees when lower cost institutional funds were available. To protect against Tibble-type claims, fiduciary committees should:
- Follow written plan documents and procedures, including any investment policy statements and committee charters.
- Document committee meetings and decisions with respect to plan investments.
- Review 408(b)(2) fee disclosure information and benchmark fees to comparable plans based on the number of participants and plan assets.
What’s the value of benchmarking?
Retirement plan benchmarking is the act of comparing your own plan’s qualities to similar plans. People immediately think about the plan investments or costs, but benchmarking also extends to a plan’s operating provisions and comparing your plan to plans of the same demographics, industry and geography. Benchmarking this helps ensure you are getting the best value for the price paid.
It’s wise to benchmark certain plan items like investment rates of return on an annual basis, but the entire plan’s workings and its service providers should be reviewed at least every three years.
Any final words on benchmarking?
Your financial advisor or another trusted party should carry out the benchmarking process for a consistent and independent approach. Generally you will get better pricing if you’re a bigger plan with larger average account balances and your plan is easier to run.
While benchmarking is a good indicator of what the masses are experiencing, your plan may have unique provisions that work well for you and your employees. If you pay a little more for someone to administer a plan that’s outside of the norm, then that’s OK.
John Adzema, QPA, QKA, TGPC, AIF, is vice president of sales and consulting at Tegrit Group. Reach him at (330) 983-0525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit Tegrit’s Advisor Resource Center for additional retirement planning tips.
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