Lockton, a risk management, insurance and employee benefits provider, released a report on Tuesday that outlines six best practices for retirement plan sponsors that emphasized a sponsor's fiduciary responsibilities.
The report authors note that a fiduciary is "determined by action, not by title."
Lockton identified the most common risks faced by fiduciaries in defined contribution plans:
- Failing to produce an investment policy statement, or failing to update the statement to ensure consistency with investment decisions.
- Not having appropriate plan governance, including plan committees or investment committees.
- Failing to meet regularly and document committee meetings.
- Failing to act when funds need to be replaced.
- Not making timely plan contributions.
- Lack of understanding of costs, revenues and implications for plan participants.
- Failing to understand contracts with vendors, or to regularly review service agreements.
- Not following plan document provisions.
Although not a comprehensive list, Lockton maintains these are common problems among retirement plan sponsors. The firm outlined six best practices to help plan sponsors reduce the liability associated with these problems.
First, the company recommends getting the help of an expert if needed. "Fiduciaries have a requirement to act as a prudent expert," the authors write. "Dedicated retirement plan advisors can guide fiduciaries through this process." Sponsors should look for advisors who specialize in retirement plans, and have worked with them for a number of years. Knowledge of vender relationships is another important quality in an advisor.
Sponsors should form a retirement plan committee with the responsibility to take action on the plan's behalf. The committee should meet regularly and document all discussions and decisions.