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Strength in Numbers – A Committee Can Help You Improve Fiduciary Oversight and Strengthen Your Retirement Plan

These days, almost every plan sponsor could benefit from some team support. It’s a very time-consuming job that comes with the burden of real business and personal risks — not to mention being another hat you need to wear to help your organization compete to attract and retain the best employees possible. A retirement plan committee can ease the stress of administrative and operational decision-making, share in fiduciary responsibilities and help ensure employees stay on track for positive retirement outcomes.

In April of 2021, the Profit Sharing Council of America (PSCA)  conducted a snapshot survey of plan sponsors in order to gather more information about plan committees. Though the majority of respondents indicated that their company has one committee (63.9 percent), there is a wide variety in how those committees are structured, what they do, and how they work. The survey results offer some general guidelines that can help you form a new plan committee or improve the one you have.

How Many Committees Do You Need?

Twenty percent of surveyed organizations have two retirement-focused committees (one for plan administration and one for investments), but larger organizations are much more likely to have multiple committees — 40 percent of plans with 5,000 or more participants have two committees, versus only 10 percent of plans with fewer than 200 participants. As far as committee size goes, smaller organizations are more likely to have fewer than five members while large organizations generally have between five and ten. In addition, 65.4% of plans have legal counsel participate in committees on average (the percentage is closer to 50% for smaller plans and almost 92% for large plans). Small organizations are more likely to have counsel participate only when specific issues arise (30.2 percent).

What Criteria Should be Used For Participation in a Committee?

Survey respondents ranked the following in terms of participation criteria importance:

                                                   Retirement Plan

                                                   Administration Committee     Investment Committee

Job Title                                                            76.3%                                      73.8%

Expertise                                                           59.5%                                      65.0%

Tenure                                                                  7.9%                                        5.0%

Willingness to Participate                              31.6%                                       32.5%

Gender/Racial Diversity                                   7.4%                                         4.4%

Other                                                                    11.1%                                         8.8%

Just over forty-four percent say there is some overlap in participation between committees, and 22.8 percent say that most of their committee members do overlap. However, 25.3 percent do not have any participant overlap between committees.

As far as individuals go, your plan advisor should be considered as a key member of your committee. They can help establish the committee, provide operational insight, liaison with service providers, review and monitor investment performance, may offer fiduciary training, assist with financial wellness programs, benchmark plan fees for reasonableness, recommend outside experts and support plan management. In addition, your plan recordkeeper relationship manager should be considered as a member. They can provide plan reporting, such as investment and financial activity. They may also be able to provide consistent, ongoing reporting on the retirement readiness of your employees.

How Often Should Your Committee Meet?

By far, the most common committee meeting cadence is quarterly. However, nearly 90 percent of large organizations hold investment committee meeting quarterly, whereas fewer than half of small organizations do and nearly 40 percent of small organizations hold them semi-annually.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of how your committee is organized or structured, having a prudent and clearly stated process in place for all decision making is a best practice for retirement plan fiduciaries. Have regular meetings with a formal agenda, record the minutes, follow your investment policy statement, and hold each other accountable. The result will be a well-run retirement plan that keeps employee needs and interests front and center.

 

PSCA. (2021). Retirement Plan Committees. 2021 Snapshot_Ret Plan Com_FINAL.pdf (psca.org)