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Employer Fiduciary Training Checklist

December 7 2023

As a plan sponsor, you have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of plan participants and beneficiaries. To help you fulfill this duty, you may want to consider various training programs and subject matter emphasis -- whether you’re new to the role or have been serving as a plan sponsor for some time.

For a more formal approach, you could enroll in courses, webinars, or seminars offered by reputable organizations, such as the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) or the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA). It's important for plan sponsors to engage with experienced professionals, consultants, or legal experts specializing in retirement plan governance to ensure they are fulfilling their fiduciary duties effectively and staying compliant with applicable laws and regulations.

Less formally, your current retirement plan advisor and/or recordkeeper will likely have a library of educational materials that you can review. You can choose the topics and cadence to fit your schedule – just be sure to document your efforts.

To help you determine your current training needs and prioritize your focus, here’s a checklist of areas to consider:

ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) Compliance

  • Understanding the basic principles and provisions of ERISA.
  • Comprehending the roles and responsibilities of plan fiduciaries.
  • Staying up-to-date with any legislative changes or updates related to retirement plans.

Investment Fundamentals 

  • Diversification and asset allocation principles.
  • Risk management and the selection of appropriate investment options.
  • Monitoring and evaluating investment performance

Plan Governance and Administration

  • Plan design and document compliance.
  • Efficient administration and recordkeeping.
  • Participant communication and education strategies.

Fiduciary Responsibilities

  • Identifying potential conflicts of interest.
  • Establishing and following a prudent process for decision-making.
  • Developing and maintaining investment policy statements (IPS).

Plan Fees and Costs

  • Understanding fee structures and the impact on participants.
  • Conducting fee benchmarking and comparisons.
  • Fee disclosure requirements under ERISA. 

Participant Education

  • Promoting financial literacy among plan participants.
  • Creating effective communication strategies.
  • Encouraging retirement savings and investment knowledge.

Investment Selection and Monitoring 

  • Due diligence in selecting and monitoring investment options.
  • Using investment metrics and benchmarks to assess performance.
  • Understanding the different types of investments (e.g., mutual funds, target-date funds, ETFs).

Documentation and Recordkeeping 

  • Properly maintaining records of fiduciary actions.
  • Demonstrating adherence to fiduciary best practices.
  • Maintaining a paper trail to prove compliance. 

Legal and Regulatory Updates 

  • Staying informed about changes in retirement plan regulations and fiduciary duties.
  • Accessing legal counsel or compliance experts when needed. 

Ethical and Ethical Considerations 

  • Promoting a culture of ethical behavior within the organization.
  • Managing conflicts of interest and potential ethical dilemmas. 

Fiduciary Liability Insurance 

  • Understanding the role of fiduciary liability insurance.
  • Evaluating the need for and the coverage provided by such insurance. 

Benchmarking and Performance Evaluation 

  • Regularly assessing the performance of the retirement plan and making necessary adjustments.
  • Utilizing benchmarks and metrics to gauge success and compliance.


Sources/ Notes

US Department of Labor. Fiduciary Education Campaign - Getting It Right - Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities.

Finance Strategists. (2023, September). Plan Sponsor Fiduciary Training. Plan Sponsor Fiduciary Training | Components & Effectiveness (

Kmotion, Inc., 412 Beavercreek Road, Suite 611, Oregon City, OR 97045;

©2023 Kmotion, Inc. This newsletter is a publication of Kmotion, Inc., whose role is solely that of publisher. 

Pensionmark Financial Group, LLC (“Pensionmark”) is an investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Pensionmark is affiliated through common ownership with Pensionmark Securities, LLC (member SIPC).