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COVID-19 Update

Alliant Wealth Advisors is an "essential business" under Virginia state law and we remain fully operational during the COVID-19 crisis.

To keep our clients, staff and colleagues safe we are currently holding all meetings via video conferencing. And we are alternating a small number of staff in our office while the majority serve you from their home.

Speaking of our office. Our headquarters in Prince William will relocate to the Signal Hill Professional Center at 9161 Liberia Avenue, Suite 100, Manassas, VA 20110 effective Monday, April 20, 2020.

Whether we are virtual or in person, we are here for you. Please keep safe.

Best Regards,

John Frisch, CPA/PFS, CFP®, AIF®, PPC®

President

A Better
401(k) Solution

  401(k) and 403(b) Plans Made Simple  


Secure Retirement by Design

Alliant Qualified Plans provides a consultative process backed by an ultra-high level of service and state-of-the-art technology. Learn More

Better Plans

We offer better 401(k) and 403(b) plans to help retirement plan sponsors improve their employees’ ability to build toward retirement, reduce the potential personal liability of their plan fiduciaries, and simplify plan compliance and administration.

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Our Differentiators

Better Plan Investments

We access the low-fee funds offered by institutional money managers.

Better Participant Experience

Better funds along with our professional investment management, broad financial education and mobile account tools result in more engaged, better invested, better prepared employees.

Reduced Liability for Plan Sponsor Fiduciaries

We accept delegation – and liability – for investment selection and monitoring under ERISA 3(38).

 

TOP 9 COMMON MISTAKES OF PLAN SPONSORS

The most common mistakes made by well-meaning companies and business owners include a failure to:

  • 1. Establish and follow written investment policies and procedures

  • 2. Understand sponsor fiduciary duties and potential personal liability

  • 3. Apply innovative plan design strategies to achieve employer/employee goals

  • 4. Monitor and replace poor investment options

  • 5. Understand and evaluate plan fees

  • 6. Administer the plan correctly, monitor periodically

  • 7. Identify conflicts of interest

  • 8. Provide employees the retirement tools they need

  • 9. Take action

  • Let’s start the conversation.


Going the extra mile

avatar The retirement-plan business is a competitive one. We deliver an “above-and-beyond” level of service that we believe all businesses should demand.

Joe Walsh heads Alliant Qualified Plans. His passion is working with employers to design and manage innovative 401(k) and 403(b) plans that meet organizational goals and employee needs. Joe’s expertise as a professional retirement plan consultant is backed by 30 years’ experience with money center banks providing clients with 401(k), investment management, pension, custody, and trustee services. This combination makes him a uniquely qualified advocate and partner for Alliant’s clients.

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  • CONFLICT FREE | Your Fiduciary

    CONFLICT FREE | Your Fiduciary

    Objectivity is the hallmark of our services and advice – we’re conflict free today and we’ll continue to be so, just as we’ve always been. As a retirement plan sponsor, you need to have absolute confidence that your provider is impervious to the influences of third-party financial institutions.

  • PEOPLE | Commitment to You, Your Employees

    PEOPLE | Commitment to You, Your Employees

    The ability of many Americans to retire has been questioned by the news media and government leaders, as well as individuals. It is with those concerns in mind that Alliant has developed a slate of distinctive retirement plans, each with its own unique set of qualities.

  • OUR BEST | We Do Things Right

    OUR BEST | We Do Things Right

    Beginning with your goals, we help you strategically design both 401(k) and 403(b) plans to benefit your organization and your employees.

  • A LEGACY OF TRUST | Your Needs are Important to Us

    A LEGACY OF TRUST | Your Needs are Important to Us

    For more than a quarter of a century, Alliant Wealth Advisors has built a proud tradition of integrity, trust and financial excellence.

Latest News

408(b)2 Disclosures and the Fiduciary Rule

November 4, 2017—408(b)2 Provider Disclosures have created confusion for employers who sponsor 401(k) and 403(b) plans ever since the rules first requiring them took effect in 2012. To make matters worse, with the June 2017 effective date of the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule, employers’ responsibility with respect to the disclosures increased.

As I meet with retirement plan sponsors, I encounter a range of questions related to the disclosures. The query posed by one plan Administrator – “What is a 408(b)2?” – wasn’t all that surprising or odd. Some employers don’t realize they receive the disclosures and most are unaware that it is their responsibility to make sure the disclosures are received. Fewer still understand their additional responsibility, that the disclosures must be reviewed and understood, with plan sponsors documenting the levels of service and determining that the associated fees are reasonable.

So, today’s blog seeks to clear up some of the confusion in the interest of helping employers stay compliant and ensure plan participants are well served.

Here are the facts:

A Provider Disclosure Report – otherwise known as a 408(b)2 report – should be received by the plan sponsor from each service provider who is receiving payment from the company’s 401(k) or 403(b) plan. A “payment from the plan” means that the fees are being collected from plan participants. Service providers can include advisors, recordkeepers, third party administrators, custodians, auditors – anyone who provides a plan service – but employers need only receive disclosures from providers paid by the plan, not from those to whom the employer makes a direct payment.

It’s worth noting that there are two methods used to collect service provider fees from participants. Some plans remove fees directly from a participant’s account. Such fees are transparent, making it easier for plan sponsor and participant alike to measure service value. However, some plans use a “revenue-sharing” method where the fees are removed from the participant’s investment returns before they become a part of the participant’s retirement account. Such “hidden” fees are not reported in a participant’s quarterly plan statement, are difficult to identify and have led some plan participants to believe their retirement plans are free!

(In addition to the service provider fees, each mutual fund or annuity has a management fee to compensate the managers who buy and sell the fund’s underlying securities. These fees are always removed from the participant’s investment returns and they also will be disclosed on a 408(b)2 report.)

Once a 408(b)2 report is received, employers must comb through it in detail to first understand the services being provided and whether the providers are fiduciaries. Service providers acting as fiduciaries must specifically state that they are doing so; if a provider is silent regarding fiduciary status, it is not a fiduciary. The new Fiduciary Rule creates an additional responsibility for employers; they must verify their advisors are fiduciaries.

Prior to the Fiduciary Rule, brokers and insurance representatives were not required to act as fiduciaries. If plan sponsors have not received a new 408(b)2 report from their advisor since the Fiduciary Rule took effect, they will want to re-visit their “old” 408(b)2 reports. If their advisor previously served as a fiduciary and stated so, those reports will suffice. However, if the advisor was silent on fiduciary status, the advisor was not a fiduciary and the plan sponsor must take steps to make sure they receive a new 408(b)2 report that states the advisor’s fiduciary status and describes the fiduciary nature of the advisor’s services.

A prominent ERISA attorney Fred Reisch suggests in a recent blog the kinds of service descriptions for which an employer might search to confirm an advisor is acting as fiduciary. Such descriptions might include “making investment recommendations, “referring to other investment advisors or managers, or “providing selective lists of investments.”

Once employers understand all plan services and have verified the fiduciary status of their advisor, they must document that plan fees are reasonable in light of the services provided. There should be an explanation of the fee that is being collected for each service and whether the fee is assessed on a per-participant basis or as a percentage of assets.

What about fee reasonableness? Employers should consider the range and level of services they are receiving as they analyze or benchmark their fees. The Department of Labor doesn’t require employers to find the providers with the lowest fees; they must conclude their fees are “reasonable” when measured against the services received. Plan sponsors can benchmark their fees against those paid by other plans by hiring a consultant, soliciting RFPs from other providers or consulting the 401k Averages Book.

408(b)2 compliance can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be, and a proper review of a plan’s provider disclosure report can result in plan improvements to the benefit of participants. I’d welcome a phone call to help you comb through this process.


This blog is written to help make the lives of plan sponsors easier in the process of meeting legal requirements under ERISA for their defined contribution plans. Please understand that reading this blog should not alone take the place of a one-on-one consultation regarding the needs of your specific plan, and hence cannot be a guarantee against fiduciary breaches.

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