In February of 2012 the Department of Labor published a brochure entitled “Meeting your Fiduciary Responsibilities.” It is intended as a compliance guide for sponsors of retirement plans, including 401k’s.

On page 1 a Fiduciary is defined as:

“Many of the actions involved in operating a plan make the person or entity performing them a fiduciary. Using discretion in administering and managing a plan or controlling the plan’s assets makes that person a fiduciary to the extent of that discretion or control. Thus, fiduciary status is based on the functions performed for the plan, not just a person’s title.

A plan must have at least one fiduciary (a person or entity) named in the written plan, or through a process described in the plan, as having control over the plan’s operation.

The named fiduciary can be identified by office or by name. For some plans, it may be an administrative committee or a company’s board of directors. A plan’s fiduciaries will ordinarily include the trustee, investment advisers, all individuals exercising discretion in the administration of the plan, all members of a plan’s administrative committee (if it has such a committee), and those who select committee officials. Attorneys, accountants, and actuaries generally are not fiduciaries when acting solely in their professional capacities. The key to determining whether an individual or an entity is a fiduciary is whether they are exercising discretion or control over the plan.”

And on page two, some of your responsibilities are outlined:

“What is the significance of being a fiduciary?

  • Fiduciaries have important responsibilities and are subject to standards of conduct because they act on behalf of participants in a retirement plan and their beneficiaries. These responsibilities include:
  • Acting solely in the interest of plan participants and their beneficiaries and with the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to them;
  • Carrying out their duties prudently;
  • Following the plan documents (unless inconsistent with ERISA);
  • Diversifying plan investments; and
  • Paying only reasonable plan expenses.

The duty to act prudently is one of a fiduciary’s central responsibilities under ERISA.”

Many plan sponsors do not realize their responsibility is to the plan participants, not what is convenient for you!

To get a complete copy of this brochure pop me an email, or download it from the Department of Labor website.

As an Accredited Investment Fiduciary, Greg Riggs provides Advisory Services to all types of retirement plans, including 401k. Mr. Riggs can be reached at or 425-485-1248.
Securities and Advisory Services offered through KMS Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.


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