Don't Miss

401k Retirement Committee Responsibilities Extend Well Beyond Investments

401k Retirement Committee Responsibilities Extend Well Beyond Investments

401k retirement committee responsibilities reach far beyond investments.  Fred Barstein, Founder and CEO of The Plan Sponsor University addresses the topic of how 401k retirement committee responsibilities should match the functions of an oversight committee.  Many 401k committees have chosen monikers which restrict or expand the committees’ responsibilities.  Even though it is commonplace, a committee that is titled an Investment Committee should not be making plan design decisions or recordkeeping decisions.  A committee that is titled a Fiduciary Committee should not be making decisions on non-fiduciary processes or topics.  A 401k Retirement Committee has more latitude to address all 401k Retirement Committee responsibilities.

Full Transcript Here

This is Fred Barstein with 401kTV. I’m here with TPSU adjunct lecturer Blair [Steinkiss 00:00:16]?


Stientjes. I’ll always get that wrong.

We just completed a program here at UC Berkeley. A great program with a lot of plan sponsors, lot of enthusiasm. Blair is with NFP, which is one of the leading benefits in retirement advisory shops, over 100 billion and he and his partners, very significant benefit in retirement shop here in the Bay area. I won’t say the assets ’cause they’re always growing and changing. Welcome, Blair.

Thank you, Fred.

Wanted to talk a little bit, not just HSA, but the importance of how plan sponsors should look at benefits. Retirement, healthcare, all benefits holistically. Why is that important?

Well, if you think about the value of your employee’s time and how they best spend it, they have a lot of decisions to make and you can’t take them out of the workplace for an extended period of time to educate them enough. We’ve found that it’s best because of the convergence of benefits and retirement plans, that it’s often best from a communications perspective that you’re educating your employees about both at the same time. Because, often, questions will pivot from the prioritization of where I’m going to spend my money, whether or not it’s going to be in a medical plan, which medical plan or how I’m going to invest in the 401k. I’m sorry, how I’m going to contribute to the 401k.

Right. So, number one, more engagement because it’s all together. And then, secondly, they have a limited amount of money to spend and they have to figure out where, for each person, they should be doing that, right? But, a lot of times, and maybe it’s our own fault of the advisory community, it’s very siloed. One advisor works … how do you cross that silo?

So, I can’t have a holistic conversation about retirement unless I’m talking about all the retirement unless I’m talking about all the retirement vehicles that are available at an employer’s … through their benefits.

You need to know everything.

Absolutely. And often, that may be a combination of the 401k and the HSA, but you can’t get to an HSA unless you are knowledgeable and can talk about the medical plans that are available and how an individual’s gonna utilize them, what’s the best plan … ’cause it is a financial decision. You’re determining how much insurance that you need based off of your individual usage.


So based off of that, that might create an opportunity, you choose a high deductible health care plan, to implement the HSA, which would be a component of your overall retirement strategy, but it’s all combined and I can’t have that conversation with an individual without knowing more about the benefits and being able to consult with them appropriately.

And you have some clients that your firm will do both benefits and retirement and some that you only do retirement. Is that correct?


And so, what’s more effective? When you do both?

I think it’s definitely more effective when we do both.

How do your clients benefit by having both and with one advisor?

Again, it goes back to the holistic communication. Think about it from the inbound calling. We can set up a dedicated line so employees can call one line, they get the dedicated line for the ABC benefits, press 1 for health, press 2 for wealth and it will be routed to the appropriate individuals, there’ll be an executive sponsor to make sure that everything works correctly.


So, if you structure it correctly, it’s better communication out to the employees, a better experience for the employees reaching out to get the right help and we can manage everything, I think, more efficiently as well, which benefits the company.

And the HR person who has to deal with all of this, right? One point of contact.

Or as somebody in our firm likes to say, at the end of the day, you need to hold somebody responsible or one throat to choke if something goes wrong.


There’s that single point of contact where the buck stops here and at NFP, with that structure, you do get that.

Great. Well, thanks for your time and thanks for supporting TPSU on our program and thank you for watching 401kTV.


Check Also

Plan Design

Plan Design Strategy Makes  Impact

Plan Design Strategy Makes Impact Plan Design strategy needs to be well thought-out to reap results. 401k plan fiduciaries and trustees need to be certain that the retirement plan is periodically reviewed and compared with industry practices, services and fees. ...