Frequently Asked Questions
Ever wonder why it’s all so complicated?
ERISA was passed in 1974 and it slowly transformed the investment management industry. Find out what that means for plans sponsors today.
What’s the risk of managing a retirement plan internally?
Plan sponsors that go it alone run three risks – performance, liability and executive distraction. Highly accomplished executives from other disciplines (Legal, HR, Finance) won’t see the details that stand out to experienced fiduciaries, so fees and expenses can eat into investment returns. The executives can face potential personal liability for an increasingly complex, litigious endeavor with potentially serious PR ramifications. In the process, they spend significant energy to keep up – which detracts from their core purpose.
Can a plan sponsor delegate fiduciary responsibilities to an independent third party?
Yes. While ERISA requires retirement plans to appoint a fiduciary who oversees and makes decisions for a plan, there is nothing in ERISA that says a plan sponsor must take on this role itself. In fact, courts have looked favorably upon plan sponsors when they have appointed expert independent fiduciaries.
Why hire Harrison Fiduciary as independent fiduciary?
We will monitor and manage the retirement assets of plan participants, bringing decades of experience in ERISA and investment matters to every task. We create and document practices in order to meet the fiduciary standards imposed by ERISA. Because we continuously evaluate and renegotiate vendor costs and investment fees, we can produce savings which can enhance investment returns over time. Perhaps most importantly, we allow the company to redeploy critical executive energy where it’s needed most, running the company.
Does Harrison Fiduciary take on discrete projects rather than overseeing an entire plan?
We can take on specific fiduciary projects as well. For example, we can oversee company stock accounts, manage a plan’s participation in a securities lending program, oversee litigation and settlements involving the plan, and advise on corporate restructurings, workouts and plan mergers. In any of these situations, we act solely in the interests of plan participants.
How would you know what our colleagues need better than we do?
We know that investment committee members take their responsibilities very seriously—not only because they are consummate professionals, but because the work is personal. After all, the plan participants are not just numbers; They are colleagues, friends, real people. When we work with organizations, we never forget that, which is why we work to understand fully any nuances regarding your plans.
Does Harrison Fiduciary eliminate our fiduciary liability?
We assume fiduciary responsibility and potential liability for any fiduciary tasks which are delegated to Harrison Fiduciary. Effectively, the plan sponsor shifts the responsibility and potential liability for these tasks to us. However, the plan sponsor remains responsible for the selection and ongoing monitoring of Harrison Fiduciary. Hiring an independent fiduciary can significantly narrow a plan sponsor’s responsibilities and potential liabilities. Importantly, each plan sponsor should review these principles of allocating fiduciary responsibility with their ERISA counsel.
Does Harrison Fiduciary replace our investment committee?
We can, but we don’t have to. ERISA allows flexibility with respect to the governance of qualified retirement plans. We can continue reporting to an investment committee or to any other high-level committee. We can work closely to craft a governance structure that reflects the culture of your company. Hiring an independent fiduciary should support the existing governance structure and not impose new levels of oversight.
How big is Harrison Fiduciary?
We’re small but growing! Our size makes us nimble and responsive. Rest assured, we will never take on more responsibilities than our team can handle.
Won’t Harrison Fiduciary add another layer of expense?
One of Harrison Fiduciary’s primary competencies lies in our skill in analyzing fees (and fee structures) and using our market experience to negotiate fees and leverage economies of scale. In fact, our efforts can lead to reduced direct fees and expenses. In many instances, when the cost of lost executive time spent on managing a plan is taken into account, working with us can pay for itself.
How does Harrison Fiduciary charge for services?
We will commit to a flat fee for our services that is not based solely on plan assets under management. Our fees are based upon a combination of factors such as the complexity of the plan, the scope of the engagement, and the amount and type of risk that we assume.
Still have questions?
We have answers! Let’s talk about your fiduciary challenges and how our approach can ease the retirement plan burden you shoulder while, of course, always acting in the best interests of your participants. Contact us now.
“Always acting in the best interest of plan participants has become more challenging over the years. It’s a burden that all plan sponsors carry, and one that we happily lift off their shoulders.”
Keith Flynn, Chief Marketing Officer