Can It Really Be as Simple as 1-2-3?

Posted on September 30, 2020
Brian Allen, CFP®

Brian Allen, CFP®

Founder & Chairman of Pension Consultants, Inc.

3 Key Drivers Every Fiduciary Committee Should Be Measuring to Provide a Rewarding Retirement

Overseeing a retirement plan can be intimidating and seemingly complicated, especially for new fiduciary committee members. There are many “to dos” – regulation standards, liabilities, risks, decisions to be made, paperwork to be filed, etc. It may seem the list never ends. More important than these, though, is your fiduciary duty to your participants. You must make decisions based on what is in their best interest, above all else.


So, what is in your participants’ best interest? It’s simple. The number one goal for a fiduciary committee member should be to provide a Rewarding Retirement. That means a plan that helps participants retire on time with dignity.


With that goal in mind, there are three key drivers you should measure. These determine if a person is on track for retirement: 1) the right amount being contributed, 2) strong investment returns, and 3) low fees. Let’s take a brief look at each of these drivers:

  1. Total Contributions Lifts Income Replacement

What if you threw a retirement plan and no one came? If your employees aren’t participating AND contributing, then there is no retirement plan, or at least not one that is meeting the primary goal of preparing participants to retire on time with dignity.

It’s commonly accepted with financial planners that the typical American will need to replace 70-80% of their current income to maintain a similar standard of living in retirement.1  Total contributions are the driving force to help your participants achieve that standard. The more that is contributed, the better prepared they will be.


  1. Investment Lineup Captures Compounding

Albert Einstein said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn’t, pays it.” A small gain in investment performance compounded over a plan participant’s working career will exponentially impact what’s available in retirement. Even small increases or decreases in performance can dramatically influence a participant’s retirement assets.

Now, fiduciary, your role is to provide a lineup of funds that participants can use. A bad lineup equals bad performance. An investment lineup that outperforms an objective benchmark over time, net of investment-related fees, will grow your participant’s ability to retire.


  1. Low Fees Keep Money in the Plan

We all know that high fees eat away at the amount participants have available in retirement. Just as compounding can be very powerful, high expenses can drain all of that power away in excessive fees and erode participants’ ability to retire on time.

The reality is that you’re going to have to make decisions that spend the plan’s and participant’s money. After all, a plan without service providers is a plan that will suffer. But it’s critical to account for and measure all service providers, what they cost, and who pays. Then compare that TOTAL against a meaningful, objective benchmark.

Total Contributions + Investment Lineup Returns – Plan Fees = Rewarding Retirement

Session 2

There you have it! The “not so secret sauce.” It doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating if you have these three key drivers working together for your people. They show if you are providing a Rewarding Retirement to participants or if you have more work to do.


Get started building a Rewarding Retirement for your participants!

We just skimmed the surface here. There is a lot more to unpack in Rewarding Retirement: How Fiduciary Committees Can Elevate Workers, Companies, and Communities, the new book from Brian Allen, CFP®, Pension Consultants, Inc.’s founder and chairman.


Here’s a great way to get started! Download a free sample chapter of Rewarding Retirement by clicking the button below. Visit to learn more and order your copy today!

Download the first chapter of Rewarding Retirement: How Fiduciary Committees Can Elevate Workers, Companies, and Communities

Don’t wait! Get your copy of Rewarding Retirement today!

1 Social Security Administration. “Alternate Measures of Replacement Rates for Social Security Benefits and Retirement Income.”

Allen CFP®, Brian. “Rewarding Retirement: How Fiduciary Committees Can Elevate Workers, Companies, and



About PCI

Pension Consultants, Inc. (PCI) is an independent, fee-only retirement plan adviser on a mission to improve the financial security of American workers. PCI focuses on three key drivers of retirement readiness — Contributions, Investment Performance, Fees — to help plans prepare participants to retire on time with dignity. Pension Consultants, Inc. is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as an investment adviser.

About Author

Brian Allen is the author of Rewarding Retirement: How Fiduciary Committees Can Elevate Workers, Companies, And Communities, and Founder & Chairman of Pension Consultants, Inc., a fee-only plan adviser on a mission to improve the financial security of American workers. Allen has been an advocate for professionalism and a pioneer in the qualified retirement plan industry for more than 25 years. He was an early mover to a business model that eliminates incentives and inducements that can influence recommendations to clients, including commissions, gifts, marketing payments, and exotic trips. 

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