“One size fits all” does not apply to retirement plan providers and sponsors. Every business has its own unique intricacies that dictate which provider will best suit them. That’s where a true independent retirement plan advisor can help you when considering the pro’s and con’s of each provider.
RETIREMENT PLAN BENCHMARKING
We can show you how your plan stacks up against its peers when it comes to fees, performance, and participation rates. Our team is unbiased; they will present to you a variety of highly reputable providers that fit your company’s goals and objectives specifically.
We provide training workshops and webinars for all of your participants, giving them personal insight into how their plan works, how they can make changes, and what they can expect.
MONITORING & REPORTING
We will meet periodically with the plan’s management committee to assess whether the plan is performing as expected, as well as provide access to regular plan performance reports. Emphasis is placed on keeping up to date with Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, and effecting any necessary changes in order to stay compliant.
The DOL has deemed all plan fiduciaries are personally liable for ERISA violations that cause plan losses. Now, more than ever, it is important to be aware of and understand your fiduciary responsibilities. We will educate you and keep you informed!
IN THE NEWS
Plan Fiduciaries Sued for Failing to Remove Fund
While one plaintiff’s law firm had been looking for “potential violations” of ERISA in failing to remove a specific mutual fund from the plan menu – another one has apparently found them. Or at least a participant willing to raise the issue.
Earlier this year the New York-based law firm Zamansky LLC launched what it described as an investigation, looking for “potential violations” of ERISA, specifically whether the plan fiduciaries violated their duties to prudently manage and invest plan assets “by the continued offering of the Sequoia Fund as an investment option” in the plan, specifically soliciting participants in the Disney 401(k) plan.
But it was the law firms of Stris & Maher, LLP and Izard Kindall & Raabe who found a participant in the Disney Savings and Investment Plan to challenge that plan’s continued holding of the Sequoia Fund “when it became apparent that the Fund was no longer a suitable investment for participants’ retirement savings.”
The plaintiffs alleged that the Sequoia Fund violated the fund’s own investment policies, as well as the plan’s diversification requirements, by having too much of the Sequoia fund invested in a single security (Valeant), that they claim was a particularly risky stock, with numerous warning signs that were ignored, and not only that the investment was imprudent, but that it resulted in losses to participants.
Disney’s Plan Document required all investment options other than the Company Stock Fund to be diversified, meaning that no more than 5% of its assets were invested in the securities of one company, a stance that the lawsuit says prohibited the Sequoia Fund from investing 25% or more of the fund’s total assets in any single industry. Here the Sequoia Fund held 11,281,224 shares of Valeant stock worth $2,240,676,711, accounting for more than 26% of the Sequoia Fund’s total net assets, and that as of June 30, 2015, 28.7% of the Sequoia Fund’s assets were invested in Valeant stock and 30% of the Fund’s assets were invested in stocks in the health care industry.
The complaint alleges that the Sequoia Fund’s 25% limit on concentration in any one position was violated by its approximately 35% investment in Valeant, and further that the Sequoia Fund’s managers violated its “sell strategy” by failing to sell Valeant when its valuation became “excessive in relation to its expected earnings,” and that Valeant’s $236 per share price was 100 times its 2014 earnings.
Published reports indicate that the Sequoia fund, in its 2015 annual report, stated to investors that its “credibility as investors” had been bruised by the controversy around Valeant, and that the fund had experienced “higher-than-normal redemptions,” two shareholder lawsuits and the resignation of two out of five independent directors.
The current suit alleges that the Sequoia Fund was “more expensive, dramatically more concentrated in Valeant, and underperformed all 10 of the most common alternative funds” in each of the three periods examined. Moreover, plaintiff notes that, from its peak in August 2015 until Nov. 17, 2015, Valeant stock declined from $263 a share to less than $70 a share. During the same time, the Sequoia Fund lost approximately 25% of its value. During 2015, the Sequoia Fund lost 7.31% of its value. Nearly all of this decline, 6.3% of the 7.31%, was due to the Fund’s holdings in Valeant.
Aside from a declaration on the existence of the class, that the defendants violated their fiduciary duties under ERISA, and an order to appoint one or more independent fiduciaries to participate in the management of the plan’s investments, the plaintiff is also seeking an order compelling the defendants to make good to the plan all losses “resulting from Defendants’ breaches of their fiduciary duties, including loss of vested benefits to the Plans resulting from imprudent investment of the Plans’ assets; to restore to the Plans all profits Defendants made through use of the Plans’ assets; and to restore to the Plans all profits which the Plans and participants would have made if Defendants had fulfilled their fiduciary obligations.”
A new survey finds that the vast majority of plan sponsors would recommend their advisor – but the reasons why they wouldn’t are telling.
The aptly named MassMutual Retirement Plan Referrals Study finds that 88% of plan sponsors would recommend their advisor, with 37% “very likely” to do so. Only 10% said they were unlikely to make a recommendation, according to the survey of 565 employers that sponsor retirement plans, including 449 that worked with an advisor and 116 that did not, with retirement plan recordkeeping assets ranging from less than $1 million to as much as $75 million.
That said, more than a third (35%) of sponsors surveyed have switched advisors in the past. Among sponsors who changed advisors, 41% did so because they judged their advisor as failing to provide adequate support. Other complaints about advisors included:
A lack of involvement or interest in the plan
Not being knowledgeable
Other reasons cited for switching advisors were:
17% – Costs and fees
15% – A change in the company’s management or ownership
11% – Wanting better service
7% – A better plan and/or investments
6% – Poor performance and returns
What Sponsors Want
Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) sponsors find advisors through referrals, either by asking for a referral or receiving one unsolicited, the study finds. Just 10% of sponsors search for advisors online, according to the survey, but the top criteria for online advisor searches were:
72% wanted an advisor who works with companies similar to theirs;
47% looked for customer testimonials;
43% gravitated to an effective website;
41% focused on a good value proposition; and
40% appreciated fees being clearly stated on the advisor’s website.
Only 29% wanted someone who is local in their area.
Nine in 10 (93%) sponsors assess the cost and benefits of working with an advisor as valuable, and just as many (94%) are satisfied overall with their advisor. Interestingly, the bigger the retirement plan in terms of assets, the more likely the sponsor is to give the advisor high marks.
Room for Growth?
Not all of the sponsors who responded to the study currently use an advisor. However, 43% of such sponsors would be open to working with an advisor during their scheduled plan review, and 35% said they would be open to doing so at any time, according to the survey.
Is your retirement plan being managed as effectively as possible?
The Rate My Retirement Plan report is a comprehensive, easy-to-read report designed to identify where you can improve the handling of fiduciary responsibility connected with your companies retirement plan.
Rate My Retirement Plan report focuses on areas of non-compliance and mismanagement – things that you may not know to look for, but regulatory agencies – like the DOL and IRS – do. We also incorporate industry best practices – ones that make plan management easier and more efficient.
We want to help you:
Identify opportunities for improvement in your plan’s management
Help make your plan a more valuable employee benefit
Be your trusted source for information and evaluation in the retirement plan industry
To download your free Rate My Retirement Plan report, fill out the information request. Then it’s yours to keep, use and share as you wish.
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Investment Advisory Services are offered through investment advisor representatives of Wagner Financial, a Federally Registered Investment Advisor.
Office: (805) 339-0760
Fax: (805) 339-0793
196 S Fir St, Suite 140
Ventura, CA 93001