October 25, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Guardian Insurance & Annuity Co. Inc. launched a tool to help plan sponsors determine their service provider needs.
Plan advisers can work with sponsors using The Resource Optimizer, developed by Guardian and Pension Resource Institute LLC (PRI), to establish the need and value of service provider support. The tool enables clients to determine plan risks, employer needs and the opportunity costs of implementing a retirement plan.
“Fee disclosure, a changing regulatory landscape and broker/dealer restrictions on fiduciary roles are creating significant opportunities for both experienced financial professionals and non-fiduciary financial professionals, particularly in the small-plan retirement marketplace, which accounts for the vast majority of plans,” said Jason Frain, vice president of 401(k) product management and development at Guardian Retirement Solutions. “These changes are forcing plan sponsors to rely on financial professionals to provide education and actionable solutions for compliance challenges. Many plan sponsors lack the experience, time and resources to effectively manage these plans to help participants achieve successful retirement outcomes.”
The Resource Optimizer includes a comprehensive worksheet that determines the necessity of various services involved in the implementation of a retirement plan. The 15-question worksheet assesses a plan sponsor’s needs and allows clients to discover plan risks and understand costs. Frain told PLANSPONSOR that 10 questions in the worksheet are process-focused (e.g., committee meetings, investment policy statements), and five questions are based on employee outcomes.
For plan sponsors, The Resource Optimizer clarifies some of their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and identifies the specific areas where they may require professional assistance. The worksheet and results map demonstrate a commitment to plan governance and participant engagement and help simplify what is required for maintaining a successful retirement plan. For advisers, it can help them demonstrate value to their clients by determining what works best for their plans, Frain said.