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Supervising Your Plan’s Investment Manager and an Atmosphere of Misinformation

Plan sponsors have a lot on their plate. Not only is the list of Administrative responsibilities exceptionally long, the Trustee side (where investment decisions are made) can be overwhelming when managed properly. Fortunately, the law which governs Retirement Plans - the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA - allows plan sponsors to delegate their responsibility to outside professionals. Not only does delegation save the sponsor time and effort, the icing on the cake is that delegation, to certain providers, also removes any potential liability for the role.

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Financial Service Firm 401(k) Sponsors Sued by Own Employees!

As a plan sponsor of a 401(k) plan you know - or at least should know - that decisions you make regarding the plan must be in the best interests of your plan participants. This covers all areas of the plan, including your decisions regarding plan investment options. Unfortunately, it is common (in my opinion) for employers not to devote the time necessary to investment options due diligence and instead rely on the investment suggestions made by the plan’s platform provider.

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Re-Enrolling the Enrolled

Employers who hope to positively impact their worker’s lives in retirement know they have a few levers to pull. Getting as many employees as possible into the plan is an obvious step, as is increasing deferral rates, and including the best investment options possible.

But what if you achieve all three objectives through thoughtful plan design and investment selection, yet your employees don’t invest properly? It is a self-directed plan after all.

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Fiduciary Sudoku Part 4 – Comprehending 3(38), Explaining the 3(38) Fiduciary

In this final blog in our Fiduciary Sudoku series, our goal is to help you, the employer, understand ERISA Section 3(38) well enough so that you can properly evaluate, hire, and monitor retirement plan vendors who offer “3(38)” services. As discussed in our Introduction, “Fiduciary Sudoku – Comprehending ERISA 3(16), 3(21) & 3(38),” vendors who service retirement plans will use the term “3(38)” to describe their service offering. But what is a 3(38) service? Will it make your life easier? Does it alleviate your fiduciary responsibility? Are there levels of 3(38) service?

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Fiduciary Sudoku Part 3 – Comprehending ERISA 3(21), Explaining the 3(21) Fiduciary

Welcome to our third article in our fiduciary blog series, designed to clear up confusion and offer clarification regarding the nature and scope of fiduciary roles as they relate to corporate retirement plan management. In our most recent blog post we provided an overview of an ERISA 3(16) fiduciary. Today we’ll discuss the 3(21) fiduciary.

Keep in mind that the term “3(21)” in the retirement plan space has become associated with a financial advisor who helps the plan sponsor select and monitor its plan fund line up. But technically ERISA Section 3(21) defines ALL plan fiduciaries, not just those who provide outside investment advice.

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Fiduciary Sudoku Part 2 – Comprehending ERISA 3(16), Explaining the 3(16) Fiduciary

In this second blog in our Fiduciary Sudoku series, our goal is to help you, the employer, understand ERISA Section 3(16) well enough so that you can properly evaluate, hire and monitor retirement plan vendors who offer “3(16)” services. As discussed in our Introduction, “Fiduciary Sudoku – Comprehending ERISA 3(16), 3(21) & 3(38),” vendors who service retirement plans will use the term “3(16)” to describe their service offering. But what is a 3(16) service? Will it make your life easier? Does it alleviate your fiduciary responsibility? Are there levels of 3(16) service?

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Fiduciary Sudoku – Comprehending ERISA 3(16), 3(21) & 3(38)

As an employer, you may have heard the terms fiduciary and fiduciary support in relation to corporate retirement plans. Specifically, vendors who service retirement plans will use the terms 3(16), 3(21) and 3(38) to describe their service offering. The terms have often been taken for granted, and sometimes abused by service providers looking for a marketing edge. Regardless, as a plan sponsor you have a responsibility to understand exactly what level of service your plan participants are receiving from your plan’s providers. In this mini-series we hope to offer some clarification and understanding regarding the terms 3(16), 3(21) and 3(38).

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Best Practice #10: Utilize Technology

Welcome to the Alliant Best Practices Series for 401(k) Plan Sponsors, in which we offer 10 best-practice essentials for helping plan participants achieve retirement plan success. Here’s the tenth and final best practice in our series.


 In our last post we talked about safe harbors options. In this post we’ll talk about how we are utilizing cutting-edge technology to the advantage of plan sponsors and participants. When used right, technology brings companies greater organization and efficiency. Here are a few key examples.

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Best Practice #9: Adopting Available "Trust" Safe Harbors

Welcome to the Alliant Best Practices Series for 401(k) Plan Sponsors, in which we offer 10 best-practice essentials for helping plan participants achieve retirement plan success. Here’s the ninth best practice in our series.


Our last post focused on the importance of adopting a fiduciary government program. In this post we’ll talk about ERISA “Trust” safe harbors. Trust safe harbors, unlike the commonly referred to “safe harbor plan” which helps the plan pass administrative testing requirements, are an effective method to mitigate or reduce the potential liability plan sponsors face as Trustees of their plan as they manage plan investments.

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