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The mission of the Partners is to empower all of us to go directly to each other with our expertise. FiduciaryFirst is considered an industry leader and our knowledge and informative blogs can help you gain an understanding about key topics within the industry.

Missing Participants: Are You Doing Enough to Find Them?

Missing Participants: Are You Doing Enough to Find Them?
Recent Department of Labor (DOL) letters have threatened sanctions against plan fiduciaries for potential Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations regarding the handling of missing participants. The DOL also cited potential violations involving the timeliness of required minimum distributions for participants nearing the age of 701/2. This occurred despite a lack of clear-cut guidance from the DOL regarding best practices and appropriate administrative procedures for handling instances where prior employees cannot readily be located. As a result, plan sponsors have been required by Labor Department auditors to follow procedures regarding required minimum distributions (RMDs) not documented from any previous formal guidance. In response to concerns expressed by plan sponsors, the Internal Revenue Service, DOL and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) have released guidance regarding the steps plan sponsors and administrators should take when attempting to locate separated participants, including: Searching plan, employer, sponsor or other publically available sources of...
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Four Ways to Increase Employee Retirement Contribution Participation

Four Ways to Increase Employee Retirement Contribution Participation
As a retirement plan sponsor, can you encourage your employees to save and save more? A significant amount of research says that yes, you can improve both employee participation and their saving rates. Here are four ways you can help your employees start building a confident retirement: Boost employee participation with automatic enrollment. Choosing to automatically enroll all new employees in your retirement plan can dramatically improve your participation rates. According to the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College, in one study of automatic enrollment, participation increased by 50 percent, with the largest gains among younger and lower-paid employees.1 While auto-enrolled employees are allowed to opt out of the retirement plan, most generally stay enrolled. Set the initial default contribution rate higher. Many companies who use auto-enrollment set their default contribution rate relatively low at three percent, according to the CRR, which is lower than the typical employer match rate of six...
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IRS Tips for Plan Sponsors

IRS Tips for Plan Sponsors
As an employer, you’re ultimately responsible for keeping your company’s 401(k) plan in compliance at all times. Your plan document should be reviewed on an annual basis and administered accordingly. The IRS offers useful tips for plan sponsors to help in those efforts. Here are some highlights on their guidance. Understand and verify your adoption agreement options.For pre-approved plans, you may have an adoption agreement that supplements the basic plan document and lists features that may be selected. It’s important to understand this document and specifically what it says about plan eligibility, types and limits of contributions, how contributions are divided among plan participants, vesting and paying benefits. Educate yourself about your service agreement. As a plan sponsor, it’s important to understand what your service agreement does and does not cover. For administrative tasks, it’s imperative to know who will perform these and to make sure that person has the...
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Happy 40th, 401(k): Changes Are Coming

Happy 40th, 401(k): Changes Are Coming
It’s hard to imagine a time before 401(k) plans, but employee fiduciary risk management once relied heavily on employer-backed pensions. Over the past four decades, 401(k)s have grown in popularity as businesses realized the benefits that come with them. While 401(k)s have seen incredible growth since their inauguration, their 40th anniversary is a great time to review the program, its process, and how it could improve. Here are a few things businesses can consider implementing regarding their own 401(k) offerings. Easier Onboarding Once new employees are hired, it becomes difficult to add them to a 401(k). Paperwork is already a standard part of their first day, so why not include paperwork for 401(k) enrollment? By incorporating 401(k) signups from the getgo and making opting in the default, businesses can increase participation and ensure as many employees as possible are enjoying retirement planning perks. Unfortunately, one major deterrent to 401(k) participation...
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Strategically Address Employee Education

Strategically Address Employee Education
An educated employee is an empowered employee, especially when it comes to retirement savings and financial wellness. To help employees better understand their fiduciary process the key features of your company’s 401(k) plan, and the importance of setting aside money for their future, it’s crucial to offer financial education. Correct Misconceptions Employees may misunderstand exactly what goes into your 401(k) plan. To dispel any misconceptions, companies should aim to communicate 401(k) information in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Bear in mind that employees are easily overwhelmed by a surplus of options! Make yourself available to help guide them toward choices that are best for them, and encourage them to approach you with questions. If they don’t ask you, there is a good chance they are taking matters into their own hands by searching for answers online or from other employees, which only increases the odds of miscommunication. Offer Multiple Education Formats In...
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How to Encourage Employee Participation in Your 401(k)

How to Encourage Employee Participation in Your 401(k)
How to Encourage Employee Participation in Your 401(k) The number of workers failing to prepare for retirement is only growing, with millennials participating less than[1] previous generations. Part of an organization’s fiduciary process[2] includes encouraging workers across all age groups to invest in their future, but unfortunately, that isn’t always easy. If you’ve set up a 401(k) for your company, here are a few things you can do to boost enrollment. Implement Auto Enrollment Research has demonstrated that auto enrollment is undeniably the most effective[3] method to increase employee participation. In a study on the impact of automatic enrollment on savings incomes, there was a sizable 50 percent increase[4] in new employee participation. However, the default contribution rate plays a role as well. Under auto enrollment, contributions are higher when there is as a generous contribution rate, and many plans now include auto escalation provisions that increase contributions at 1...
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Why You Need to Communicate with Employees

Why You Need to Communicate with Employees
Businesses understand how vital it is for employees to understand retirement options and are increasingly including employee education in fiduciary risk management, whether it’s in the form of one-on-one counseling or educational seminars. Take a look at these reasons why you should communicate with and educate your employees. Gossip Can Be Dangerous If retirement opportunities are not properly explained, employees will likely ask each other instead. Someone could accidentally relay incorrect information and create the misconception that your savings plan options aren’t effective, leading to disgruntled, unsatisfied employees. This tends to snowball into frustration and a lack of trust. Make sure your employees know that you have their best interest at heart. Open Communication Create a culture of open communication. Encourage employees to approach you with questions, suggestions on benefits they’d like to see, or concerns, whether they’re positive or negative. Intentionally respect, honor, and reward that honest communication. This...
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Boost Your Participant Retirement Readiness Scores with a Professional Retirement Plan Advisor

Retirement Plan Sponsors that work with a professional retirement plan advisor show higher levels of participant retirement readiness, according to a 2014 study from the Retirement Advisor Council.1 The study included 407 employers that sponsor a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, and concluded that: Improve Retirement Participant Preparation Three-quarters of the sponsors surveyed who work with a professional advisor estimate that half or more of their plan participants are on track to a successful retirement. Professional advisors regularly review the readiness of plan participants and provide that information to plan sponsors. Sponsors are then able to act in an effort to improve retirement outcomes for their employees. These actions include increasing communication, educating participants better, adjusting the participant contribution formula, and adopting automatic contribution increases. More than 40 percent of the surveyed companies have their advisors meet individually with participants to provide investment information. Increase Contribution Levels Eighty-three percent of the...
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