RS Fiduciary Solutions, an independent Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciary consulting firm, has launched PEP-RFP.com, an online service to connect advisers and potential plan sponsors with registered pooled employer plans (PEPs).
The service is a comprehensive database of all pooled plan providers (PPPs) registered with the Department of Labor (DOL). The database also includes all PEPs sponsored by the PPPs.
Robb Smith, president, RS Fiduciary Solutions, says the first step he takes is to send PPPs registered with the DOL two requests for information (RFIs), one about the PPP itself and one about its PEP. He notes that some PPPs have registered for more than one PEP. There are about 46 PPPs registered currently.
The RFI for the PPP asks about the provider’s experience working with multiple employer plans (MEPs), what fiduciary and non-fiduciary services the PPP will offer to adopting employers, whether it has preferred or favored relationships with providers, and what the PPP’s process is for monitoring third-party service providers, among other things. The RFI for the PEP asks about plan features, such as automatic enrollment or automatic deferral escalation, and services provided, such as education and financial wellness programs, among other things.
The first step for plan sponsors or advisers using the program is to fill out a questionnaire about the most critical options plan sponsors want or need from the PEP, according to Smith. Then, PEP-RFP offers three levels of service.
For sponsors and advisers that are “do-it-yourselfers,” PEP-RFP DIY offers access to the site’s complete database of both PPPs and PEPs that are registered. “I think this is the one we’ll get the most traction from,” Smith says. “Plan sponsors or advisers can do a deep dive into the database, select PEP options themselves and schedule their own meetings.”
With the second option, PEP-RFP LITE, which is based on a fact-gathering questionnaire completed by the adopting employer that identifies important features and services required, PEP-RFP will in assist in narrowing potential PPP/PEP candidates to the best three options for the sponsor. Then, the sponsor and their adviser can schedule meetings and make the final decision, Smith says.
Smith notes that while the process of conducting an effective provider search for a single-employer plan is very involved, conducting one for a PEP can be even more daunting, as the plan sponsor must evaluate not only the PEP, but also the PPP, as well as any third-party service providers used. So PEP-RFP also offers a Full Scope product option.
According to the PEP-RFP website, Full Scope provides sponsors and their advisers with complete request for proposals (RFP) consulting services including:
- Determining adopting employer needs;
- Selecting the best qualified PPP/PEP candidates;
- Conducting virtual PPP Q&A conference calls;
- Assisting sponsors with the final selection process; and
- Providing step-by-step documentation of the selection process.
Smith says there is no cost to PPPs to provide information for the database. Prices for plan sponsors and advisers range from $500 for 60 days of access to the database to $2,500 for LITE and $5,000 for Full Scope. Even those who only purchase access to the database may download it to have a record showing they have gone through the due diligence process for selecting a plan and provider.
For advisory firms, PEP-RFP is still working on contract terms for 24/7 access to the database for a year.
Smith’s firm, RS Fiduciary Solutions, is a provider of plan fiduciary audits, fiduciary training and consulting, so Smith says PEP-RFP will offer quarterly, semiannual and annual fiduciary report cards for the PEP selected by plan sponsors and their advisers. “It can be a basis for doing their ongoing monitoring of the PPP and PEP,” he says. “We will contact each PPP on a regular basis to see how they are doing, whether there have been changes made to PEPs and how many employers belong to the PEP.”