Our retirement plan design division aims to help our clients maximize their pretax savings and help them build large nest eggs as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. We look at our clients’ overall income tax situations and build a qualified retirement plan design that optimizes the amount of income clients can defer, which in turn reduces their income tax liabilities. We also develop transparent and cost-efficient investment plans for qualified assets.
What is the Goal of Retirement Plan Design?
A successful retirement plan design can provide important financial benefits to both individuals and their businesses. On a personal level, a strong retirement plan design can help maximize the pretax deferrals people can take, which reduces income tax liability and helps quickly build larger nest eggs for retirement. And on a corporate level, a strong retirement plan design can improve the relationship between employees and employers, as employees benefit from a corporate plan to help them prepare for their own retirements.
How Do We Oversee Retirement Plans?
We are fiduciaries on retirement plans under the new DOL Fiduciary Rule and ERISA law, which means that we’re obligated by law to hold our clients’ interest paramount in the design and maintenance of their retirement plans. When we work on retirement plan design for our clients, we typically help our clients in two keys ways:
Planning and Administration of Retirement Plans
We work closely with our clients, TPAs, and actuaries to determine the most cost-effective and tax-efficient qualified retirement plan design for them. Once a plan is in place, we then work closely with our clients and other parties to ensure the careful administration of the plan. The most common types of plans that we work on are:
Cash Balance Pension Plans
Investment of Plan Assets
Regardless of the type of plan, we can work with our clients to ensure that the assets are invested efficiently and appropriately, with a strong emphasis on keeping internal costs low and risk-exposures tailored to the plan design. For more on our asset management platform and philosophy, please read here.
What Can We Uncover in a Retirement Plan Review?
Retirement plan design is often the first place we look when we meet with new clients, because improving plan design is usually one of the most reliable and efficient ways to lower our clients’ income tax burden and better plan for retirement. Below are some of the most common pitfalls we’ve come across when reviewing our clients existing retirement plan designs:
Not Maximizing Pretax Deferrals
People who don’t optimize their retirement plan designs are potentially losing the option to defer additional assets and are paying more in income tax than they need to
Overpaying in Fees
There are several areas where fees can be deducted in the administration of retirement plans. It is important to have transparency at these layers to ensure you are not overpaying for services, including:
Investment platform and underlying fund fees
Investment/financial advisor fees
Not Working with Fiduciaries
Because of how complex retirement plan design can be, there are numerous areas where advisors can fail to optimize plan design, overcharge for services, or make inappropriate investments on their clients’ behalf. It is important to work with advisors who accept fiduciary responsibility on these plans, and hold themselves accountable to acting solely in their clients’ best interests