When discussing retirement services with executives, including human resource professionals, fiduciary compliance is something that is not only needed but expected. Because many executives do not understand that they are a fiduciary for their company plan, it becomes a relief when the words "shared fiduciary liability" come into the conversation. It is all about risk mitigation (words that resonate with any executive). Risk cannot be completely eradicated, but it feels good to know that someone else shares in the responsibility.
In conversations with other human resource professionals, when the topic of their 401(k) plan comes up, I always ask, "Did you know you are a fiduciary?" Almost always the response is, "I'm not; my company is!" The inquiry continues with, "Do you sign loan approvals or process the enrollment forms? Do you participate on the committee?" The answer is usually, "yes," and they are shocked that they are, in fact, a fiduciary. With this said, it is not just an added service to become co-fiduciary; it is my belief that it should be a requirement. In the insurance industry, looking for a differentiator in services or products is an ongoing moving target. Becoming and using co-fiduciary as a service and selling point is tomorrow's differentiator and should be a strong consideration of tomorrow's broker.
Should advisers with retirement clients take on fiduciary responsibility?
If you take on the responsibility of consulting clients in this specialty area, then the fiduciary responsibility should come with it. Having said that, we always recommend that our clients have a third party investment fiduciary on the team.
Either get in or get out.
Even if someone works retirement issues as a side job, I think as soon as you start advising on retirement matters, all the fiduciary expectations go right along with it.
Decide to play in retirement and become a professional or stay completely away.
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