10 Tips for Maintaining Retirement Plans

September 13, 2023

When it comes to maintaining your retirement plan — and mitigating fiduciary risk — there should be no question that your organization uses best practices. We’ll ask anyway: Are you using best practices to maintain your retirement plan and mitigate fiduciary risk?

When employers fail to meet the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA’s) standard of fiduciary care, or other obligations as defined in the plan documents, they are at risk of penalties and/or legal action. Employers can reduce risk by monitoring the administration of the plan, carefully selecting and assessing investment options, and taking steps to correct any discrepancies between fiduciary actions and obligations.

Get Started With These 10 Best Practices

If you’re not currently using best practices — or you’re unsure if you are — consider these top 10 tips offered by USI Consulting Group (USICG):

  1. Select and monitor plan investments regularly:
    • Set overall objectives and investment strategies
    • Consider hiring a co-fiduciary
    • Choose appropriate investments that align with your organization’s goals and strategies
    • Maintain a diverse set of investment offerings and provide participants with structured/preset portfolios
    • Monitor investment performance
  2. Perform ongoing monitoring and reporting, including on investments and participant activity
  3. Continuously check and benchmark plan expenses
    • Compare your plan to those of others in your industry, geographic location, etc.
    • Review costs and plan design to determine which plan features can improve employee participation, pricing, technology, investments and services
  4. Grasp your fiduciary role and responsibilities:
    • Determine the plan’s fiduciaries
    • Ensure the plan committee is staffed with qualified members
    • Review responsibilities with committee members
    • Implement processes and establish procedures to meet plan requirements
    • Maintain and monitor the plan’s administration
  1. Stay on top of regulatory updates and new regulations: Identify specific plan design and documentation requirements from SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022
  2. Secure protection and mitigate risk through fiduciary oversight, which can result in:
    • Reduced retirement plan sponsor liability
    • Improved retirement plan participant outcomes
    • Increased retirement readiness of plan participants
  3. Prepare for an audit with an operational compliance review
    • Conduct a self-audit to confirm the plan’s operations comply with requirements set by the Department of Labor (DOL) and ERISA
    • Self-audits can be:
      • Broad — focused primarily on plan documents, annual filings and compliance testing, or
      • Detailed — covering everything from internal payroll processes to spot-checking select records or transactions from the recordkeeping system
  4. Understand the impact of retirement plan design and offer a competitive retirement program that:
    • Helps improve employees’ retirement readiness
    • Sets the organization apart from other employers when recruiting or retaining employees
  5. Oversee the day-to-day plan administration, including reporting and recordkeeping requirements (in addition to many of the items listed above). With the long list of responsibilities and liability risks, this duty is often outsourced to a third party so employers can focus on their business
  6. Help employees improve retirement readiness by developing and implementing a successful financial well-being program that:
    • Mitigates projected economic costs to the organization
    • Increases plan participation and deferral rates
    • Encourages employees to take control of their finances and save more for their future

Case Study: Best practices can reduce plan costs

Establishing best practices often requires assistance from experts, and USICG has provided retirement plan expertise to clients for decades. A technology company reduced their 401(k) plan investment costs by 80% by implementing a new investment policy statement developed with the guidance of USICG and heeding our team’s advice on the selection of plan investments.1 USICG’s services also brought savings of nearly $30,000 because the company did not need to hire an outside investment advisory firm to select and monitor the plan’s investments.2


Mastering Fiduciary Fundamentals: Navigating Responsibilities and Risks

We hosted a successful national webinar led by our team of experts discussing fiduciary best practices and protection solutions to help employers navigate responsibilities and mitigate risk for themselves and their organizations. If you weren't able to attend, you can watch the recording here or by using the button below.

1 Investment advice provided to the Plan by USI Advisors, Inc. Under certain arrangements, securities offered to the Plan through USI Securities, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Both USI Advisors, Inc. and USI Securities, Inc. are affiliates of USI Consulting Group.

2 Actual results will vary. The use of any stated benefits in this case study is intended for illustrative purposes only and may not be used to predict or project future results.

This information is provided solely for educational purposes and is not to be construed as investment, legal or tax advice. Prior to acting on this information, we recommend that you seek independent advice specific to your situation from a qualified investment/legal/tax professional. | 1023.S0829.0068