What's the best way to ensure that our plan has great investments?

The first step to make sure that your plan has great investments is to make sure that you have an advisor based plan. And advisor based plan means that there is a financial advisor monitoring the investments and offering guidance to the plan sponsors. Without an advisor on the plan, there is quite possibly somebody who is not an expert in the industry choosing the mutual funds available for your participants. Or, the plan might have generic or proprietary funds in a boilerplate 401(k) product. Is this really the best value for your employees?

Secondly, as a financial advisor, I avoid plans with a majority of proprietary funds. In fact, the Department of Labor guidance is to use multi-managed funds in a plans target date portfolios. It makes even more sense to have multi-managed mutual funds throughout the entire lineup. That is, why limit yourself to one fund company?

We also use third-party reporting tools such as fi360, Morningstar, or Misero to see how your fund lineup stacks up to comparable funds. For examples on how this report looks please contact me.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • What investment-related Fiduciary services do you have to limit your liability? Do you know what you are paying for those and what actually you are getting?
  • Understand what 3(16) service relationships you have. Essentially if no one is specifically named in the plan as 3(16), then it defaults to the plan sponsor.
  • Often this happens unintentionally. If you delegate 3(16) responsibility to a third party you can help limit liability.
  • How are you documenting your process for the Department of Labor?
  • What is your process for choosing your Qualified Default Investment Alternative?

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