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®


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).



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.


  • 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

Is Your Fiduciary a Chihuahua or a German Shepherd?

“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.

Without going too far down the technical rabbit hole, saying you have a fiduciary guarding your retirement plan is a bit like saying you have a dog guarding your house. The analogy is less of a stretch than you may think, considering that Fido – a well-known name for guard dogs – is linguistically related to “fiduciary.” Taken from Latin, fido means “to trust, believe, confide in.”

A good fiduciary will be like a good guard dog in some respects: loyal first and foremost, on alert, highly trained and so forth. In a more technical and legal sense, fiduciaries put the best interests of clients first. They should not have any conflicts of interests. This includes not receiving variable fees or commissions from investments they recommend. Such compensation by its nature could influence them to make suggestions not in the best interests of their client.

The range of financial services provided by an advisor who uses the word fiduciary can vary wildly – just as wildly as the variation between dog breeds. Many dog owners can accurately identify the breed of their dog, but fewer plan sponsors can accurately identify the breed of their fiduciary! Many employers are under the impression that they have a German Shepherd guarding their plan, so to speak, when instead they have a Chihuahua. This is not unexpected, however, given how quickly the word “fiduciary” is sometimes used.

For example, in most cases fiduciary services do not actually relieve employers of any responsibility or potential personal liability. Mutual fund companies, insurance products and even advisors may generally speak of their attention to fiduciary standards, but that does not normally mean they will fulfill one of the plan sponsor’s fiduciary obligations.

The word “fiduciary” becomes most tricky in the context of investment “advice.” What is advice, exactly? Is advice recommending something that is “suitable,” but not technically in someone’s best interests? When it comes to advice, brokers and insurance salespeople have historically been held to a lower “suitability” standard. For this reason, employers cannot expect them to provide recommendations that are in the best interests of the company and plan participants.

By comparison, a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) is held to the higher “best interests” fiduciary standard. But again, a RIA does not relieve employers of any responsibility or potential personal liability unless he or she agrees to perform a fiduciary role or roles in writing. Contrary to what too many employers believe, working with someone who is adhering to the fiduciary standard does not mean the plan sponsor’s own responsibility or potential personal liability is reduced.

To help you identify the “breed” of your fiduciary and whether your own responsibility is lessened, we provide the following brief descriptions of four fiduciary roles:

  • No fiduciary: The broker, sales person or advisor does not commit to the performance of a fiduciary role in writing. Consequently, the employer retains full responsibility and potential personal liability for the plan’s management.
  • ERISA Section 3(21) “co-fiduciary”: The advisor commits in writing to meet the fiduciary standard in providing investment recommendations to the employer, but does not replace the employer in making investment decisions or assume sole responsibility for them. The employer still bears the responsibility and potential liability for such decisions.
  • ERISA Section 3(38) fiduciary investment manager: The advisor commits in writing to accept delegation from the employer to fulfill the employer’s responsibility of making investment decisions and monitoring plan investments, relieving the employer of the responsibility and potential liability for those roles.
  • ERISA 3(38) “light” fiduciary: Beware of those who suggest they provide “services” under ERISA Section 3(38). The nature of their services varies, but generally, it involves performing investment analysis to assist in investment decisions. Much like when hiring a 3(21) co-fiduciary, however, the employer remains responsible for investment selection and monitoring.

The Department of Labor aims to narrow the gap among advisors with a new Fiduciary Standard (now scheduled to take effect April 2017). However, employers should not fall into a false sense of security. They should always remember that simply hiring a fiduciary – even one that promises adherence to fiduciary standards – does not mean their responsibility and liability are reduced. They must still read the fine print, and examine the specific roles their fiduciary commits to perform in writing, to ensure their fiduciary is not toothless when it comes to mitigating their own risk.

Canine humor aside, there is much more to unpack regarding the nature of fiduciary support. I’d love to help you understand more about your plan’s fiduciary options. Let’s meet for a quick chat!

Tags: 401 (k), Company Retirement Plans

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