“Fiduciary” is a word used frequently in the retirement industry, often to the confusion of plan sponsors and participants. “We have a fiduciary,” some employers tell me when we sit down to talk about their plan. “I am a fiduciary, and I have a fiduciary,” others will say. “We were issued a fiduciary warranty by our provider.” And so forth.
That’s how our discussions on fiduciaries often begin. When we dig in to the specifics of the financial services their hired “fiduciary” offers (and does not offer), many employers are surprised to learn that – contrary to what they were led to believe – their fiduciary does not reduce their responsibility or potential personal liability for selecting or monitoring the investments in their company’s retirement plan.