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Retirement Plan Committee Activities

Photo of author, Monica Garver, CPA, CFP®, AIFA®.
Monica Garver, CPA, CFP®, AIFA®
Director of Retirement Plan Services and Financial Strategist

A retirement plan committee consists of co-fiduciaries who are responsible for all plan management activities that have been delegated to them by their plan’s named fiduciary.

ERISA states that the committee must act exclusively in the best interests of plan participants, beneficiaries and alternate payees as they manage their plan’s administrative and management functions. Many committees meet regularly in order to have sufficient opportunity to deal with the myriad of fiduciary functions.

All fiduciary level decisions must employ ERISA’s procedural prudence which includes documented expertise on the topic being considered and periodic review to ensure the decision remains prudent. In terms of investment selection and monitoring, qualitative and quantitative considerations should be included in the decision making process. Quantitative issues involve performance metrics and price, while qualitative issues involve the management approach, process, personnel and more. Due to the importance to both participants and plan fiduciaries, the committee must ensure that the plan’s qualified default investment alternative reflects the needs and risk tolerance of the participant demographic.

As there are many other important activities for committees, it makes sense to establish an annual calendar of topics to consider at upcoming meetings. Agenda items may include: plan goal setting & review, fiduciary investment review, fiduciary education/documentation, participant demographics/retirement readiness, fee reasonableness & structure, plan design analysis, TDF suitability, client advocacy, participant financial wellness, legal, regulatory & litigation activities, employee education, provider analysis, reporting and disclosure requirements. detailed minutes and documenting the processes for each of its decisions is also best practice for fiduciaries.

The Department of Labor [DOL] is now asking plan sponsors to provide documentation of a comprehensive and ongoing fiduciary training program for all plan fiduciaries.

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