Retirement Committee Duties: Trustees Should be Knowledgeable. As a follow-up to The Plan Sponsor University (TPSU) Fiduciary Education Program held at the University of Maryland, Fred Barstein, Founder and CEO of TPSU caught up with Joe Denoyior, President of Washington Financial Group. Mr. DeNoyior, Adjunct Lecturer of TPSU used the time to discuss the challenges a plan sponsor faces when establishing naming conventions for a retirement plan oversight committee.
Mr. DeNoyior mentions that there are a variety of monikers used in the industry when referring to an in-house group of individuals who monitor the various aspects of a tax-qualified retirement plan. He cited Investment Committee, Fiduciary Committee, Retirement Committee and Pension Committee as a few that he has heard over the years.
Does it Really Matter?
Is one of the terms more appropriate than another? Mr. DeNoyior points out the danger in referring to the retirement plan oversight committee as an Investment Committee. He mentions that the danger is in “setting expectations that this committee is designed for experts in investments and you’re only talking about investments, when in fact, retirement plan encompasses a lot more than that.”
Larger organizations may have the need for more than just a single committee to oversee the tasks associated with the retirement plan. Examples would be, Fiduciary Committees, Retirement Committees or Benefit Committees. Any of these committees could easily co-exist with an Investment Committee.
Which Committee Name is Correct?
There is an easy process for determining which name should be used. A plan sponsor should determine the duties and responsibilities of the committee in advance of naming it. If the committee addresses Health and Welfare issues in addition to 401k investments, then perhaps the committee should be named the Benefits Committee. If it is an “all 401k committee” then Retirement Committee or 401k Committee may be appropriate.
As the recent recipient of the Plan Advisor 2017 Small Team of the Year award, Mr. DeNoyior’s opinion should be viewed as the voice of achievement and experience.