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.

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Supervising Your Plan’s Investment Manager and an Atmosphere of Misinformation

October 26, 2017—Plan sponsors have a lot on their plate. Not only is the list of Administrative responsibilities exceptionally long, the Trustee side (where investment decisions are made) can be overwhelming when managed properly. Fortunately, the law which governs Retirement Plans - the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA - allows plan sponsors to delegate their responsibility to outside professionals. Not only does delegation save the sponsor time and effort, the icing on the cake is that delegation, to certain providers, also removes any potential liability for the role.

One such service, which is becoming increasingly popular with plan sponsors, is that of Fiduciary Investment Manager (FIM). In this role an investment manager will assume the Trustee’s responsibility for selection and monitoring the fund line up. In some cases, they will also provide model portfolios or other managed account services to the plan participants. The FIM service is frequently referred to as “3(38)”, although there are what I call “3(38) lite offerings” as well. We’ll save a discussion of the latter for another day.

When a plan sponsor hires a Fiduciary Investment Manager, they have minimized their effort regarding plan investments and maximized their liability protection. However, they haven’t eliminated their potential liability. The sponsor must continue to monitor the service provider. If the sponsor fails to monitor their FIM, and the FIM makes a mistake, the sponsor can be ultimately held liable. This is where misinformation may come into play.

I have witnessed occasions where plan investment advisors who offer a different, lower level of liability protection commonly referred to as a 3(21) service, may try to disparage the level of liability protection offered by the FIM by reminding the sponsor that the FIM cannot eliminate all investment fiduciary risk for the plan sponsor. While this is a true statement, it can be subject to much over-exaggeration.

ERISA does require a plan sponsor to monitor all plan service providers including a FIM. However, supervision of a FIM is not time-consuming or burdensome, especially when compared to the amount of effort it would take to retain the responsibility to be the ultimate investment decision-maker for all plan investments, which is the case when hiring any non-FIM investment service provider, including a 3(21).

To supervise your FIM, utilize the following checklist on at least an annual basis.

1. To qualify to be a FIM under ERISA section 3(38), your provider must be a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), Bank, or Insurance Company. Ensure that they continue to operate under their applicable capacity.

2. Ensure that the FIM agreed to take “discretion” over your plan’s investment decisions in writing. Review your service agreement to ensure discretion is clearly stated.

3. Ask the FIM about changes in their investment philosophy, if any.

4. Ask the FIM about changes in control of the firm or significant personnel, if any.

5. Ask if there have been any regulatory actions taken against your FIM.

6. Create a control for the manager’s investment selection. A simple method is to compare the FIM’s investments against pre-agreed upon investment benchmarks (Indices). Any investments that significantly under- or over-perform their benchmark should be addressed by the manager to your satisfaction. You’ll likely find that this situation is rare.

7. Does the FIM execute the investment changes at your recordkeeper on your behalf?

8. Does the FIM maintain the necessary fidelity bond, and errors and omissions insurance?

9. Does the FIM have any conflicts of interest with your other service providers?

10. Are costs reasonable for the value provided?

11. Are there any other responsibilities listed in your Investment Policy Statement to which the FIM must adhere? If so, confirm they have been met.

A good FIM will build the aforementioned responsibilities into your Investment Policy Statement on your behalf, and show up annually with documentation addressing each item to your satisfaction. Remember that you must have a process for supervising all plan service providers, so the review process in the case of your FIM is not extra work.

If you properly supervise your FIM and document your review in meeting minutes, or otherwise, then you will have met your responsibility under ERISA and will be protected from mistakes made by your FIM, if any. This model affords the highest level of plan sponsor investment protection available under ERISA, and is not difficult to comply with. The next time a non-FIM advisor tells you their service offers as much liability protection as 3(38), or that it is difficult to comply with the requirement of monitoring a 3(38) FIM, you’ll know it’s misinformation.

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