Retirement Plan Governance Review

Gray Plant Mooty is pleased to offer an affordable proactive approach to managing employer risk. Our approach to compliance reviews combines our legal expertise and perspective with a practical business viewpoint. We candidly review the strengths and weaknesses of your current practices and policies, identify any risk areas, and provide constructive recommendations.  Each compliance review in our series is offered at a customized flat rate with a comprehensive evaluation of your company’s policies, practices, and procedures.

Federal law holds fiduciaries of retirement plans to high standards in the execution of their fiduciary duties and obligations to a plan. The law provides a “functional” definition of fiduciary, with the result that management, the Board of Directors and others unexpectedly may be considered plan fiduciaries because they either make fiduciary decisions directly or manage other employees who do. One way to limit the reach of fiduciary liability is to limit the breadth of the fiduciary definition with clearly defined lines of authority, which may be different from the company’s normal business decision-making and reporting hierarchies. Documentation of fiduciary decisions—the facts and data considered by the fiduciaries, whether the fiduciaries relied on the advice of an outside advisor, and the rationale for investment, administrative and other fiduciary decisions—are essential to limiting your risk of costly breach of fiduciary duty claims. Plan governance procedures are as important to the operation and administration of your plan as articles of incorporation, bylaws and board minutes are to your business.

Just as you need a regular physical to make sure everything is in working order, your retirement plan could likely use a check-up too. A standard compliance review will typically include the following:

  • An introductory site visit or meeting with selected business, finance or HR leaders in your organization. An attorney from GPM’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice group will meet with you to learn about your business needs, your organizational structure, and your current retirement plan governance procedures
  • A comprehensive review of governance provisions in your plan documents, Board resolutions delegating fiduciary duties, third party vendor contracts delegating administrative functions, administrative committee minutes, investment guidelines, and committee membership and expertise
  • A written summary and in-person presentation of the results of the compliance review, with specific recommendations tailored to your situation and templates for fiduciary committee minutes and other ways to document fiduciary decisions
  • A training session for fiduciary committee members and other plan fiduciaries

To learn more about this program, contact John Nichols at 612.632.3399 or or any Employee Benefits Practice Group member.