Elements of Retirement Plan Committee Education

January 30, 2020

Training new retirement plan committee members, as well as providing ongoing training throughout the year for all members, is critical, industry experts say.

“Because their responsibilities are so enormous, we need to do a better job of training these fiduciaries to make better decisions,” says Joshua Itzoe, a partner and managing director with Greenspring Advisors.

“One of the first questions that the Department of Labor [DOL] asks when conducting a plan investigation is whether the plan provides ongoing fiduciary training for committee members,” says Joan Neri, counsel in Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP’s financial services ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) practice.

“The starting point for training is educating the committee members about their role,” she says. “As fiduciaries under ERISA, they have a duty of loyalty and to act in the best interest of plan participants and their beneficiaries—not the employer or themselves personally. ERISA also has the ‘prudent man standard of conduct,’ which requires that they carry out their duties in a prudent manner.”

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