Matrix’s practice guide offers an in-depth look into the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciary rules and standards that may apply when advisers deliver investment advice to retirement plan clients. The guide details a three-step plan for advisers to review their current business model, and strengthen their value proposition through an expanded set of services specifically designed to help plan sponsors.
The result is a road map that advisers can use to capitalize on opportunities presented by the fiduciary conversation that is going on in the retirement industry.
Matrix recommends advisers assess their current business model, pointing out the need for fiduciary advisers to periodically self-audit and analyze practices both for regulatory compliance under ERISA and for market viability.
Non-fiduciary advisers should conduct a self-assessment to check that current practices do not render them an unintentional fiduciary. The assessment can also help evaluate whether they would benefit from serving as fiduciaries. The practice guide offers checklists for fiduciary and non-fiduciary advisers.
Next, advisers should define and communicate their value proposition.
A key step in building a business plan and sales strategy is defining and communicating a value proposition to current and potential clients. Include special licensing or credentials, honors or recognition, retirement plan training programs completed, experience in working with other plan sponsors and success stories.
The third step is helping plan sponsors meet their fiduciary duty. Matrix says very few plan sponsors understand what ERISA demands of them. A great step in building a relationship with a plan sponsor is to provide educational resources, explain their fiduciary role and help them meet their obligations.
Plan sponsors, companies and employers that understand their fiduciary obligations look for specialized support and guidance from retirement plan advisers who help them construct and administer their company’s retirement plan, according to Cindy Dash, chief operating officer, Matrix Financial Solutions.
“As a result, it’s critical for advisers to know when their plan sponsor clients are acting as fiduciaries and what steps they must take to avoid breaching their duties,” Dash said.
“Advisers who enhance their value proposition and structure their businesses with additional tools to help a plan sponsor with fiduciary responsibility have a significant opportunity to grow those businesses,” she said.
The fiduciary responsibilities for plan sponsors and advisers are an increasingly important focus for the industry, as well as the Department of Labor, according to Dash. “Advisers who proactively evaluate and adjust their current business practices to become retirement specialists are in the best position to grow their retirement businesses,” she said.
Matrix Financial Solutions is a Broadridge Financial Solutions company and a provider of TrueOpen retirement products and services for third-party administrators, advisers, banks and other financial professionals.