Todd Hughes Quoted in DETROIT FREE PRESS

Todd Hughes, JD, Director, ERISA and Vendor Services, was recently quoted in a DETROIT FREE PRESS article “Would you know if you are paying too much in fees with your 401(k)?”. Todd explains how excessive fee lawsuits have increased concerns about conflicts of interest and the lack of transparency in the retirement plan management industry. Click to read the full article in the DETROIT FREE PRESS and learn more about the need for fee transparency – not only to help avoid lawsuits but to also help participants minimize extra costs.

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Todd Hughes Quoted in PLANSPONSOR

PLANSPONSER Article - Getting to a Better PlaceTodd Hughes, JD, Director, ERISA and Vendor Services, was recently quoted in PLANSPONSOR’s article “Getting to a Better Place – Improving a plan through the RFP/RFI process”. Todd discusses how Pension Consultants was able to help its plan sponsor clients reduce their record keeping fees. He also explains what plan sponsors need to do annually to track their plan fees and services in between the times they go out for a formal search. Click to read the full article in PLANSPONSOR and learn how the RFP process can help deliver a top-performing plan.

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This Is Why You Monitor Your Record Keeper

Why you monitor your record keeperThe world seems to have changed a great deal in recent days, but at least one thing remains unchanged.  Another excessive fee lawsuit has been filed, this time in the Eastern District of Michigan against Xerox HR Solutions, Inc.  The plaintiffs are participants in three Ford Motor Company retirement plans, and are seeking class certification to make this suit a class action suit.  The combined assets of the three plans come to nearly $14 billion.

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Lawsuit threats no longer remote possibility for small and mid-sized retirement plans

Lawsuit threats a potential reality for small and mid-size retirement plansThere are three sources of threats to any qualified plan: the DOL, the IRS, and lawsuits. Until recently, lawsuits had only been filed against plans with assets in the billions and had only been filed by Schlichter, a St. Louis-based firm.  The threat of lawsuits seemed remote to small and mid-sized plans; a reality for larger plans only until just recently. On May 18, 2016, a lawsuit was filed in Minnesota by a law firm named Madia, LLC on behalf of Participants of the LaMettry’s Collision, Inc. 401k plan.  The LaMettry’s plan has $9.2 million in assets.  No longer can smaller plans pull the covers over their heads.

The threat of a lawsuit is now real to plans of all sizes.

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What Does Record Keeper Consolidation Mean for You as a Plan Sponsor?

Over the past several years the retirement planning industry has seen a number of large mergers and acquisitions among record keepers.  John Hancock bought New York Life; Great-West, Putnam, and JP Morgan became Empower; OneAmerica bought BMO; and Transamerica bought Mercer just to name a few.  This industry consolidation has been driven by rising technology costs that have made smaller record keepers less competitive.  It has also resulted in commoditization of record keeping services.  Continue reading

Are Employers Inadvertently Exposing Themselves To Fiduciary Liability?

When considering the duties of the various parties involved in a retirement plan, it is important to first distinguish between settlor and fiduciary functions.  Settlor decisions, such as the decision to start, amend, or terminate a plan, do not carry with them the same high standards of conduct as fiduciary decisions.

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Vendor Monitoring: Going Beyond the Determination of Reasonableness

As a responsible plan fiduciary (RPF),  the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires you  under Section 408(b)(2) to ensure that arrangements with your service providers are “reasonable” and that only “reasonable” compensation is paid for their services.  To ensure RPFs were provided the information they needed to make better decisions when selecting and monitoring service providers for their plan, the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) estimated that the final rule would cost approximately $207 million1. Continue reading

Pension Consultants included in PLANADVISER’s Top 100

(Springfield, MO, February 6, 2015) – Pension Consultants, Inc., a leader in offering in-depth, un-conflicted advice on every aspect of retirement plan management, was recently recognized as one of the country’s Top 100 Advisers of 2015 by PLANADVISER. PLANADVISER, a nationally recognized and leading resource for advisers and consultants in the retirement planning industry, compiles the Top 100 listing annually.

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How to Use Revenue Sharing and Still Achieve Fee Transparency

There are many costs involved in successfully sponsoring and operating a retirement plan. Those costs can include paying the people who help operate the plan, including internal staff and third party administrators, record keepers, financial advisers, and more. To pay for some of these plan services, plan sponsors may reimburse certain service providers, e.g., administrative and record keeping expenses, through the use of revenue sharing. Although there is some controversy with revenue sharing as the retirement industry moves to more fee transparency, courts have continued to reaffirm that the use of revenue sharing to pay certain plan expenses is, in fact, legal. Plan fiduciaries are still obligated to understand how the record keeping arrangement is structured and what role revenue sharing plays in that set-up. They must ultimately be able to make a determination that the fees are reasonable and the services are necessary. Continue reading

How Bundled Services in Retirement Plans are Like Fast Food Value Meals

You pull up to your favorite fast food chain and decide to order a burger, drink and fries, paying for each separately.  But wait – you notice the menu includes a value meal consisting of the burger, drink and fries, but at a slightly lower price.  Everyone likes a deal, so you order the value meal, even though you probably didn’t need the fries after all.  You decide to save the fries for later, but you never get around to eating them, and eventually end up throwing them away.  It would probably have been better to order the burger and drink separately, after all.

We can apply a similar line of thinking when it comes to services made available to you by your plan’s vendors.  Is there value to be gained by bundling services, or should you pay for each service separately? Consider the following scenario: Continue reading