Employees often deliver years of loyalty to their employers for the security of knowing that they have a comprehensive retirement plan in place for when they retire. It is the fiduciary responsibility of the employer to ensure the retirement plan is operating with the best industry practices (e.g., targeted education, investment and fee reviews, etc.). Employees put their trust and faith into the company for years of loyalty to ensure that they have the ability to be able to retire. Unfortunately we often see employers negate this obligation by being uninvolved in the process and leaving plans stagnant.
No matter the initial intent, failure by the employer to keep an eye on the plan and to maintain their fiduciary responsibilities directly impacts an employee’s retirement savings. The first step is for employers to start working with the right advisor. Regular reviews guarantee that the group retirement plan is relevant, sustainable and comparable. If done consistently, employees gain a better understanding of retirement, are financially prepared and can be engaged in retirement planning.
Here are our tips to get you started:
- Know who is responsible for what – Distinguish the roles of the service provider and the advisor and understand what each party brings to the table. Often times we see plan sponsors contacting their service provider representative for advice when they have an advisor. This can sometimes cause confusion as to who is helping you manage your group retirement plan.
- Review your fees – Chances are the investment management fees that you are paying today are higher than they should be. Saving only 0.5% in annual fees can potentially mean an additional 25% increase to your employees’ overall savings by retirement without taking on any risk – the idea of free money. Generally you should have a fee review every 2-3 years but if you don’t remember when the last fee review was done then you should ask for one.
- Review your investment lineup – Determine the number of investments that your group retirement plan currently offers. Often times there may be fund lineups with close to 70 investment options. Studies have shown that when there are too many options to choose from it creates a ‘decision making paralysis’ which disables the person from making an accurate and informed choice. Market trends are currently showing that the optimal fund lineup should be between 12-24 investment funds.
- Understand your employee demographics – Knowing the age demographics of your employees will help you determine where education or special attention is required the most. Having targeted educations sessions tailored to the different age groups will help increase overall engagement, lessen concerns and instill confidence about retirement planning. Realize that most education sessions that are currently conducted tend to generalize retirement issues to lump the age groups together, however, know that a younger employee will not think the same as an older employee close to retirement.
There are more tips and best practices to be shared but for now use these tips to help understand where you stand with respect to your fiduciary responsibilities to your employees. They are relying on you and the company’s retirement plan to be ready to retire one day and if they are unable to, you may be legally and financially responsible.
Each organization’s needs are unique and warrant a customized solution. We would be pleased to discuss your specific situation with you to identify the best strategy with respect to your employee benefits program. Should you have any questions on the above, please don’t hesitate to contact me or a member of our team.
At ZLC Financial we are not the world’s biggest benefits advisor but we are large enough to have the best people, resources and clients in Western Canada. Our goal is to work with you to find a better way for your employee benefits plan. We provide this value to you by leveraging one of the most skilled benefits teams in the city – almost 250 years of experience within our team of 12 employee benefits specialists. We have been working with businesses ranging from 4 to over 10,000 employees for the past 30 years