Archive for retirement

Three Ways a Certified Retirement Plan Advisor Can Improve Your Retirement Plan

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com on December 12, 2019

BY: BRAD KNOWLES
Managing Director, Argent/Heritage Retirement Plan Advisors
(405) 608-8660

With the new year just around the corner, many benefit plan executives will soon be updating and organizing their retirement plan files and looking for better ways to help employees save for the future. Plan sponsors at large companies also will be spending additional time reviewing governance documents, including policies and procedures manuals, investment committee meeting minutes and quarterly reports in preparation for the annual audit as required by the Department of Labor.

Ensuring plan compliance and fiduciary plan governance is no easy feat given the increasingly complex and changing rules and regulations governing retirement plans. One way sponsors can stay ahead of the game is to work with advisors whose companies have passed certification from third parties, such as the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX).

These organizations regularly update their assessment protocols and refine their certification criteria to ensure retirement plan advisors have the expertise, capabilities, policies and procedures in place to help plan sponsors meet their fiduciary obligations. Here are three reasons why working with a certified retirement plan advisor can make benefit sponsors’ lives easier:

  1. Ensures sponsors are following all retirement plan documents

Managing your plan’s governance can be time consuming. The IRS and the DOL both have oversight of company retirement plans. In general, the IRS oversees the qualified status of the plans, while the DOL is responsible for fiduciary standards and reporting requirements. Here is a small sample of the list of documents that have to be in your audit file and ready for inspection:

  • Corporate charter
  • IRS approval letter
  • Summary plan documents and any amendments
  • Custodial or trust documents and any amendments
  • Current fidelity bond policy
  • Investment policy statements
  • Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA) Notice
  • Investment committee meeting minutes

Advisors who have passed certification exams have verified processes that can make your job much easier. They can also identify potential problems, material weaknesses in internal controls or conflicts of interest so the annual audit will go smoothly for plan sponsors.

  1. Confirms that plan investments are diversified

One of the primary responsibilities of retirement plan fiduciaries is to provide employees an opportunity to participate in plans so they can build their wealth. Certified advisors have proven methodologies in place to help plan sponsors offer participants a range of options to growth their money in risk-appropriate investments. Just as important, certified advisors can help plan sponsors select investment managers who have a proven track record of success.

  1. Ensures that plan expenses are reasonable

Lawsuits over retirement plan fees continue to be a major concern for plan sponsors. While lawsuits against large corporations tend to make the headlines, more small business owners are finding themselves the targets of litigation. Certified advisors can assist plan sponsors in selecting reasonable and  cost-effective investment options – and helping them document the process to satisfy their fiduciary obligations to ensure the fees being paid are reasonable for the investment services provided.

Benefits professionals are under constant pressure to meet federal regulations. By working with a certified retirement plan advisor, sponsors can be confident their plans are in compliance and that they are helping improve the financial well-being of their employees.

 

Will Social Security Be There When I Retire?

by Byron Moore,  June 2017

Q: Should I plan on Social Security being there for me when I retire?

A: Yes, if you are a worker covered by Social Security, you’ll receive a monthly income from Social Security when you retire.

How much? That depends on how much you earn during your working years and how well the government can manage the ever-escalating costs of delivering these benefits.

In prior columns I’ve discussed the financial problems of Social Security, which can be summarized as “too few workers, too many retirees.” The plan isn’t going to go broke – but neither can it continue as promised. Either taxes are going up, or benefits are going down…or maybe some of both.

When that will happen is anybody’s guess – it’s been a can both political parties have kicked down the road for decades. And there’s probably enough wiggle room left to kick it down the road a few more years yet. But one day…

What doesn’t need to be put off is doing everything you can do to maximize your own Social Security benefits. Here’s how.

Know your numbers. The Social Security Administration has an easy to navigate website (www.ssa.gov) that allows you to obtain an estimate of your Social Security benefits. Obviously the closer you are to retirement the more accurate these benefit projections will be. This is the best place to start to get a feel for the benefits Social Security will offer you.

The website gives you an option to print your four-page Social Security Statement or save it to your computer. Do this as you’ll need this information for the next step.

click here to read more.

Heritage Institutional- December Retirement Report 2016

Each month, our Heritage Institutional team publishes the Retirement Report, which provides timely news and updates for plan sponsors and fiduciaries of defined contribution plans.  This month’s topics include:

  • Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Buck!- Negotiating Retirement Plan Fees with Your Provider
  • Changes in Employees Demographics May Impact Owner’s Percentage of Retirement Plan Contributions
  • Index Funds- Passive or Passive Aggressive?
  • Allowable Plan Expenses: Can the Plan Pay?

To read the full report, click here.

Heritage Institutional — September Retirement Report

Each month, our Heritage Institutional team publishes the Retirement Report, which provides timely news and updates for plan sponsors and fiduciaries of defined contribution plans.  This month’s topics include:

Q & A – Department of Labor defined “fiduciary” and helps you understand the regulations and how they pertain to you, your plan and participants.

Participant Behaviors — OneAmerica® providing insights in order to improve financial wellness.

Organizing Your Fiduciary File — Prepare your file in four key sections to keep everything organized.

Allowable Plan Expenses: Can the Plan Pay? — The payment of expenses by an ERISA plan (401K) defined benefit plan, money purchases plan, etc.) out of plan assets is subject to ERISA”s fiduciary rule.

To read the full report, click here.

 

Heritage Institutional — July Retirement Report

Each month, our Heritage Institutional team publishes the Retirement Report, which provides timely news and updates for plan sponsors and fiduciaries of defined contribution plans.  This month’s topics include:

On Stress and Financial Wellness, A Personal Perspective — Brad Knowles gives us his first-hand account of how focusing on his health improved his stress and well-being.

ERISA Fidelity Bond versus Fiduciary Liability Insurance — Plan sponsors often ask, “Is an ERISA fidelity bond the same thing as fiduciary liability insurance?” The answer is no, they are not the same. The two insure different people and have different requirements under the terms of ERISA.

I’m Too Young to Save for Retirement! — Too often, we hear the younger generation of workers tell us saving for retirement is not high on their priority list. It’s easy to understand why retirement may not be a main priority. However, what the younger generation needs to understand is that this may be the most crucial time to begin saving for retirement.

To read the full report, click here.