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Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

Offering a retirement plan can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, decisions an employer can make. The employees participating in the plan, their beneficiaries, and the employer benefit when a retirement plan is in place. Administering a plan and managing its assets, however, require certain actions and involve specific responsibilities.

To meet their responsibilities as plan sponsors, employers need to understand some basic rules, specifically the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA sets the fiduciary standard of conduct for those who manage an employee benefit plan and its assets.

The financial consultants of Engler, Garrow & Roth, Ltd. are uniquely qualified to help employer-provided retirement plan sponsors implement and maintain a retirement plan while fulfilling their ERISA fiduciary obligations. Utilizing our proprietary AdviceSolutions™ Consulting Methodology, we provide a variety of consulting services aimed at helping plan sponsors spend less time maintaining their retirement plans in compliance with appropriate regulations, so they can spend more time focusing on managing and growing their business.

Goals & Objectives

Every plan sponsor has a unique set of goals and objectives. From the outset, it is important to understand what those goals and objective are. A goal could be to attract and retain the highest caliber employees. Another goal could be to offer significant assistance in helping employees prepare for retirement. Often a fundamental goal is to reward the owners and/or other highly compensated individuals disproportionately to the rank and file employees. There are many competing and sometimes complementary goals for establishing a retirement plan. However, until those goals are clearly identified and prioritized, it is impossible to implement an effective retirement plan.

We can help you clarify and prioritize your retirement plan goals and objectives so that an effective plan meeting those objectives can be designed and implemented.

Plan Design

There are a wide array of qualified and non-qualified retirement plan options that can meet the goals and objectives of nearly any plan sponsor. However, more often than not, a generic “one size fits all” plan is implemented. Or, if the plan has been in place for a few years, the plan objectives may have changed and the current design is no longer aligned with the new objectives. In either case, the result is that the plan design may not match the objectives. This leaves the plan sponsor, the plan participants, or both, frustrated with a plan that does not meet their needs. Utilizing our consulting services, we can help you with the following:

  • Educating you regarding the various methods of meeting plan goals and objectives
  • Designing a retirement plan to meet the unique needs of your plan and your firm
  • Providing advice and insight into the newest developments and trends in employer-sponsored retirement plans

Fiduciary Responsibilities

A retirement plan sponsor must act as a prudent expert under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and is held to a fiduciary standard of care with respect to plan-related decisions regarding investments, service providers, plan administration, and general ERISA compliance issues.

Many plan sponsors are ill-prepared for the level of involvement that is required, or the personal liability that accompanies being a plan sponsor and the incumbent fiduciary responsibilities. We offer consulting services to help plan sponsors assess a plan’s compliance with ERISA fiduciary requirements and assist them in fulfilling these responsibilities. Specifically, we can help with the following:

  • Conducting a detailed review of the plan to assess its current compliance with ERISA’s fiduciary requirements and identify areas requiring remediation
  • Benchmarking a plan’s services, investments, features and fees versus those of comparable plans in similar sized organizations
  • Providing educational resources to help plan sponsors understand and meet their fiduciary obligations
  • Providing detailed listings and explanations of all fees paid by the plan and participants to all service providers, advisors and investment companies, and identifying appropriate opportunities for cost-savings
  • Evaluating the plan’s compliance with ERISA 404(c) standards of appropriate investment diversification and investment information that enable the plan to transfer liability and responsibility of investment decisions to participants

Provider Analysis

Implementing and maintaining an employer-sponsored retirement plan involves considerable commitment of time and resources. For most plan sponsors, much of the day to day administration and operation of the plan is outsourced to one or more service providers. However, you retain fiduciary responsibilities for the actions of these providers. So selecting the service provider(s) is an important, and often daunting task to plan sponsors. We can help you with the following:

  • Evaluating bundled or unbundled retirement plan service providers, including recordkeepers, third party administrators, trustees, custodians, investment companies and legal and accounting professionals
  • Assisting with provider pricing renegotiation
  • Assisting with provider contract review

Investments

We understand that the task of developing a suitable investment menu to offer qualified plan participants can be a difficult task for a plan fiduciary. Offering too many investments can overwhelm eligible participants and reduce plan participation. Offering too few can disappoint participants, potentially creating dissatisfaction with the plan, and limiting the ability of participants to meet their retirement planning goals. Engler, Garrow & Roth, Ltd. offers consulting services to assist plan sponsors with establishing and documenting prudent processes for establishing and maintaining a plan’s investment options in accordance with ERISA requirements. Specifically, we can help you with the following:

  • Creating or modifying a formal Investment Policy Statement that defines specific processes to be used for evaluating, selecting, monitoring, reviewing and changing a plan’s asset allocation and investment options
  • Analyzing employee demographics and the current plan lineup to recommend an appropriate mix of asset classes and investment styles that can address the needs of participants with varied investment goals, life-stage challenges and investment knowledge.
  • Implementing objective, prudent processes for researching, evaluating and recommending a diversified, cost-efficient lineup of active and/or passive investment options for the plan
  • Evaluating performance, expenses, and risk characteristics of the plan’s investment options and recommending changes where appropriate
  • Researching, evaluating and recommending Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA) options and suitability requirements for participants who do not make investment elections or were enrolled automatically

Participant Education

Educating your employees about the features and options of your retirement plan, the fundamentals of investing, and the need for retirement planning are not only fiduciary requirements, but can also increase participation in your plan, improve the morale of the your staff, and better prepare your employees for retirement. We can help with the following:

  • Developing an effective education plan to meet the unique needs of your participants
  • Leading or co-presenting enrollment meetings and/or providing online or printed educational materials to encourage participation and help employees choose appropriate deferral rates and investment elections
  • Providing a broad range of targeted online or printed investment education materials that address the varied needs of investors with different financial goals, life-stage issues, and levels of investment knowledge
  • Providing participants with access to online or offline retirement planning tools to help them make appropriate contribution and investment election decisions
  • Providing participants with detailed and timely information on the plan’s investment options to ensure compliance with ERISA 404(c) regulations, if appropriate
  • Working directly with participants to help them evaluate their retirement savings goals and implement appropriate contribution and investment decisions
  • Working with pre-retirees or those approaching age 73 to evaluate their retirement income needs and implement strategies for managing, spending and investing voluntary or mandatory distributions from their retirement accounts
  • Providing access to a team of experienced CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals who can address plan-related questions, assist with general financial issues, and provide comprehensive financial planning services at discounted fees