Business Services Consulting
As Plan Advisors, Main Line Retirement Advisors accepts ERISA 3(38) Liability in writing. Does your current provider? As fiduciaries to your company’s retirement plan, Main Line Retirement Advisors offers plan sponsors significant fiduciary protection. MLRA’s investment processes are designed to adhere to the fiduciary standards required in today’s markets.
Main Line Retirement Advisors seeks to provide plan sponsors with a level of fiduciary safety through the use of investment committee meetings, plan governance documents, the monitoring and review of various service providers, and employee education.
For most small and medium sized businesses, the owners and executives share responsibilities. Oftentimes these individuals spend the least amount of their working life on retirement plan issues, despite their roles as fiduciaries. This is unfortunate because the obligations they assume as fiduciaries to the plan are significant. We hear from these individuals that regardless of their primary job functions, finance and human resources executives usually have a lack of time and tools to fulfill these fiduciary obligations. It’s this lack of time and uncertainty to their obligations that is the main cause of their concern towards their personal liability in working as a plan fiduciary or sponsor.
To address this issue, MLRA offers a fiduciary oversight program that helps to deliver individual protection and ensures adherence to proper plan management through independent and objective governance and monitoring.
In our program, MLRA clients may satisfy the following plan sponsor functions with an unparalleled level of assurance:
- Demonstrate committee prudence in decision making through a document trail.
- Understand and evaluate key factors which are required in investment management decision making.
- Adherence to a properly designed plan document and the committee’s investment strategies through an Investment Policy Statement.
- Avoiding conflicts of interest.
- Monitoring of plan service providers according to the new global benchmarks for plan sponsors.
Fiduciary obligations are reviewed and addressed in each plan year by quarterly or semi-annual investment committee meetings. Each investment committee meeting is designed to review investment policy documents and evaluate the service providers to the plan.
Each decision is properly reviewed and documented through meeting summaries, newsletters, compliance documentation, employee education and much more. Plan sponsors maintain as evidence of deliberation their investment rationale and map key decision making processes within the plan’s guiding documents.
MLRA helps investment committees align internal responsibilities and the benchmarking processes with the services of operational platform providers such as administrators, record keepers, custodians, and investment managers.
Investment Selection and Monitoring Due Diligence Processes
The volatility in capital markets and its effects on investments available to plan participants is ever-present. For retirement plan sponsors and fiduciaries it is essential to develop and maintain an investment due diligence process that selects and monitors investment managers.
Moreover, these processes are ongoing and require consistent monitoring and the retention of supporting documentation. Main Line Retirement Advisors works with retirement plan committees to develop and maintain a plan's investment strategy. This is codified into a specially designed Investment Policy Statement particular to your firm and your retirement plans. The IPS is then used as a guide to evaluate and review your current investment offerings, measuring them against applicable indices and the broader universe of investment options. The objective is to create confidence amongst plan fiduciaries that your plan's investments are diversified, well managed, and meet the stated objectives of your IPS.
Main Line Retirement Advisors provides this comprehensive analysis by utilizing industry best practices with members of its in-house research department. By blending qualitative and quantitative research MLRA helps ensure a process that is consistent and repetitive. Multiple iterations of the selection process are employed and combine to create a process of manager selection. This process ensures the plan committee that research is being conducted daily and reported quarterly. The committee will receive detailed analyses along with executive summaries describing which managers continue to pass our screenig process and which need to be "watch listed" for successive quarters.
Participant Education and Communication
To create a framework for participant education and communication, MLRA develops an Education Policy Statement. This policy is a critical component to the long term success of a participant’s retirement plans.
As a basis for the EPS, MLRA advisors meet with plan sponsors to evaluate the financial sophistication of the various participant demographics within the firm. The Educational Policy Statement then outlines the goals and objectives of your plan in terms of participant education and on-going communication. The advisors at MLRA realize that every firm has its own unique culture which should be replicated in all communications to employees.
MLRA reviews with the retirement plan committees the range of investment education topics that can be distributed to participants and then creates the most appropriate program for their particular employee population.
Of vital importance to the long-term success of the plan is the consistent implementation of this participant education. MLRA seeks to increase employee knowledge of the specific plan benefits and hence increased participation.
MLRA’s EPS communication strategy includes:
- Pre-enrollment emails, posters and announcements
- All on-site meetings conducted by seasoned advisors
- On-site group enrollment meetings
- On-site individual enrollment meetings
- On-site group investment education meetings
- Multi-lingual meetings and representatives
- Multi-lingual enrollment materials
- Video teleconferencing meetings for remote locations
- Access to on-line investment and financial planning tools
- Customer service representatives and e-mail contacts for plan participants
For most plan fiduciaries, there is no set plan benchmarking program. The process of gathering pricing information and benchmarking it to peer groups is confusing and time-consuming. In addition, fee reports and standard of service contracts can lack pertinent information and often bundle provider fees together.
MLRA helps plan sponsors in disassembling the fee structures of the various administrative, recordkeeping, compliance, and employee communication contracts and service schedules.
Disassembling these fees helps plan sponsors understand total plan costs and review providers whose fees are excessive relative to peers. It is the plan sponsor’s obligation to ensure the fees paid by the plan and participants are reasonable relative to their peer groups. MLRA acts a partner to plan sponsors in analyzing all the embedded fees in their current plans and, on a going-forward basis, continuously reviews cost structures and contracts as plan assets grow.
Learn More about Benchmarking
Plan Design and Compliance
Since the introduction of individual retirement plans into the retail market, the various product and service providers have consistently developed and marketed new products. In addition to the competitive marketplace, there have been various changes in the legislative landscape that effect plan sponsors.
The reporting and regulatory obligations for plan sponsors continue to evolve and create burdensome administrative issues for company sponsored retirement plans. It is more important than ever for sponsoring firms to adopt processes to maintain compliance with the regulations and ensure their participants are accessing new products and services when appropriate. Moreover, continuously reviewing and monitoring the product and regulatory landscapes permits changes in plan design when appropriate.p>There is no one-size-fits-all retirement plan. Each company has certain objectives and needs that can be achieved through careful plan design. Recent legislation has focused on increasing plan participation and for many sponsors, changes to plan design can aid in achieving these goals.
Main Line Retirement Advisors consistently reviews the plan’s design from an objective and unbiased perspective.
Issues of concern may be:
- 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
Main Line Retirement Advisors specializes in working with small businesses, understanding your growth goals and implementing and supporting plans to help you achieve them. MLRA works with companies throughout the country — around the world really — but the thrust of our small business efforts and the majority of our clients are within suburban Philadelphia's Delaware Valley.