Whether you are an accountant, lawyer, banker, business consultant or investment advisor, many of your business clients will have a 401(k) or other qualified retirement plan. You may not specialize in retirement plans, but consider the following as the kinds of things you might do to assist your clients and prospects with their retirement plans:

  • Introduce your client to responsible third party administrators (TPAs), investment advisors, record keepers and, if necessary, ERISA counsel
  • Make sure your client has an investment policy statement and uses it as a basis for investment decisions
  • Your client should meet at least twice a year with an investment advisor to discuss the plan’s investment funds – and document those discussions
  • Encourage your client to maintain fiduciary liability insurance (not to be confused with the plan’s required ERISA fidelity bond!)
  • See that your client has participants sign a release when they receive benefit distributions (see Howell v. Motorola, Inc.)
  • Suggest that your client include low cost index funds as 401(k) investment selections to provide a defense to claims of excessive costs or poor performance on other fund selections (see Divane v. Northwestern University)
  • Encourage your client to use independent ERISA counsel to assure confidentiality of sensitive information (the company’s lawyer has a confidential attorney-client relationship only with the company, not the plan or its fiduciaries)