The laws governing employee benefit plans continue to evolve. Legislation, regulations, and administrative interpretations require constant attention to ensure compliance. In some instances, such as meeting the requirements for a particular prohibited transaction exemption, an independent fiduciary is required to make certain determinations. In other instances, although not legally required, in-house plan fiduciaries or plan sponsor appreciate the protection afforded by retaining an independent fiduciary to evaluate a transaction so that conflicts of interest can be minimized or eliminated and participant interests are protected.
What We Do
Fiduciary Counselors can provide solutions in a number of situations where there may be implications for an employee benefit plan, including:
- Reviewing plan procedures regarding the allocation of expenses to and among plans; ensuring compliance with applicable ERISA guidelines;
- Acting as an independent auditor to review transactions between an in-house QPAM or INHAM and its own plan under Prohibited Transaction Exemption 84-14;
- Performing audits or reviews mandated by the Department of Labor;
- Protecting the interests of plans invested in a stable value fund in a variety of situations, including when the fund is winding down;
- Providing expert advice for plans and/or the plan sponsor when faced with a variety of PBGC issues including termination, 4062(e) shutdowns, funding, bankruptcy, and mergers and acquisitions;
- Acting as an independent fiduciary to receive and review the insurance agent or broker commission disclosures mandated by Prohibited Transaction Exemption 84-24 and determine whether to approve the transaction on behalf of the plan;
- Approving transactions between plans and a party in interest for complex financial transactions.
Clients can feel comfortable that our analysis of a transaction will be thorough and in the best interests of plan participants and beneficiaries. We understand the need for plan fiduciaries to know they are in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. As the list above suggests, we have been involved in a number of transactions. Examples include:
- Both in the past and currently, clients have requested that we review their expense allocation procedures to ensure that charges are appropriately allocated to particular plans. A comprehensive review of the governing 6documents and an evaluation of how those terms are carried out in practice allow us to make a determination of whether compliance is present.
- When a large bank recently terminated its stable value fund, it retained us to review and approve the actions the bank was proposing to take with respect to the wind down of the fund. ERISA covered plans, including qualified plans of the bank, were investors in the fund so potential conflicts of interest were present.
No transaction is too small or too large and each situation can present unique fiduciary challenges. We welcome the opportunity to discuss any situation in greater detail. Please contact us if you’d like to explore our solutions.