Retirement Plan Consulting

Market volatility makes it critical for retirement plan sponsors and fiduciaries to develop and maintain investment due diligence procedures and supporting documentation. We will work with the retirement plan committee to develop and maintain the plan’s investment strategy, which is codified in an investment policy statement. This investment policy statement is used as a guide to evaluate your current investment offerings, measuring them against applicable indices, your existing provider’s complete menu and the broader universe of investment options. The result is confidence that your plan’s investments are diversified, well managed, and meet the stated objectives of your investment policy statement.

We provide this comprehensive analysis by utilizing multiple tools, including Zephyr’s Style Advisor, one of the most robust investment analytical tools available. Each investment is evaluated by more than a dozen different and objective analytical measurements, including:

  • Upside & Downside Capture
  • Style: Correlation & Style Drift
  • Performance: Excess Return & Tracking Error
  • Risk-Return: Standard Deviation, R-squared, Alpha, Beta & Sharpe Ratio

Performing this analysis on a regular basis is essential to documenting compliance with Department of Labor guidelines and minimizing exposure to fiduciary liability.

The retirement plan provider review process can be time-consuming, confusing, and frustrating. All too often, standard vendor-provided proposals do not include enough information to determine administrative, recordkeeping, compliance, and employee communication services and standards. Furthermore, total plan costs are usually impossible to determine from the face of the proposals.

chrt_plan_benchmarkingWe act as the Plan Sponsor’s outsource partner in the plan provider review process. The search process analyzes 150+ data points including key areas of Recordkeeping, Total Plan Cost, Investment Management, Compliance, Employee Education and Technology. This process enables Plan Sponsors to eliminate the confusion and frustration of selecting a 401(k) provider, and dramatically reduces the amount of time plan sponsors must allocate to the evaluation of new plan providers.


In the world of retirement plans, only one thing seems certain: CHANGE is constant. Over the last decade, Congress has burdened plan sponsors with an overwhelming volume of legislation, making continual review of retirement plans essential. It is critical that the legal, compliance and design aspects of a plan are current.

While legislation dictates uniformity for certain plan features, recent changes in law are aimed at increasing employee participation and restoring some of the incentives and benefits previously lost by plan sponsors.

We will review the design and operational features of your company’s plan, from an unbiased perspective, focusing on:

  • Increased employee deferral limits and employee tax credit incentives
  • Increased employer plan contribution deduction limits
  • The relationship between loan incidence and plan participation
  • Tiered and Age-Weighted discretionary contribution formulas
  • Online participant access for account balance inquiry and changes
  • Key personnel Internet access to plan and participant data
  • Paperless enrollment
  • Electronic transmittal of payroll, loan and distribution transactions
  • Automatic enrollment/negative election
  • Controlled Group plan set-up and design alternatives
  • Optimum frequency and educational content of employee communications
  • Complying with 404(c) investment guidelines and requirements
  • Management of the conversion/transition process

We offer plan sponsor fiduciaries the most extensive protection available in the market. Our fiduciary process meets the highest level of fiduciary standards. Its strategies ensure fiduciary safety through the effective use of investment committee training, plan governance, provider monitoring, and electronic document storage.

Plan Fiduciaries wear many professional hats. And while they may spend the least amount of their working life on retirement plan issues, their fiduciary role possesses the most significant amount of personal risk in the corporate arena. Inundated with primary job functions, finance and human resources executives lament their lack of time and tools to fulfill their fiduciary accountability, with a high level of assurance and protection. This uncertainty is the main cause of their concern towards their personal liability as a fiduciary.

To meet this void, we offer a fiduciary oversight program that helps to deliver protection and ensures excellence in plan management through independent governance and monitoring. We offer the fiduciary oversight program to our plan sponsor clients.

Under this program, our clients satisfy the following fiduciary functions with an uncompromised level of assurance:

  1. Demonstrate prudence through a document trail;
  2. Understand the key factors around investment management decision making;
  3. Adhere to the plan document and the committees’ investment strategies;
  4. Avoid conflicts of interest;
  5. Monitor service providers according to the new global benchmarks of fiduciary excellence.


Why plan sponsors use our fiduciary oversight program:

  • Easy to Use

Fiduciary functions are managed effectively through a signed annual service plan. We then track the timing and frequency of each service delivered and post all deliverables on your secure plan sponsor Fiduciary Storage web portal. With our program you save time, reduce personal risk, and gain access to critical fiduciary tools.

  • Document Decisions

All Fiduciary decisions are documented within their Fiduciary Storage. This is a secure online website which is a virtual filing system for all meeting summaries, newsletters, compliance documentation, employee education and much more. With a point and click, fiduciaries can evidence their investment rationale and map key decisions to the plan’s guiding documents.

  • Continuity of Conduct

We ensure a high level of continuity in the event of investment committee turnover. Our fiduciary oversight program preserves the integrity of past decisions and provides effective succession for future fiduciary governance.

  • Clarify Roles and Responsibilities

We help investment committees align internal responsibilities and benchmark the services of operational platform providers such as administrators, record keepers, custodians, and investment managers.

The Challenge

Business owners and key employees are finding it more difficult to adequately save for retirement. Why? Qualified retirement plans and group insurance plans, even Social Security, place limits on contributions, layouts and tax advantages of benefits for highly-paid individuals. Industry retirement experts suggest we need at least 80% of pre-retirement income to maintain our current standard of living in retirement.

The Income Gap

With qualified plans and Social Security alone, you and your key employees could receive as little as 30% of your current income at retirement, creating a retirement income gap.

income replacement goal

This information is from the Principal Financial Group Replacement Ratio Calculator with source information from the Annual Statistical Supplements to the Social Security Bulletin. It is intended to demonstrate the potential impact of Social Security and 401(k) plan benefits at various income levels.