The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was enacted in 1974 to protect employees who participate in retirement plans and certain other employee benefit plans.
At the time, there were concerns that pension plan funds were being mismanaged, causing participants to lose benefits they had worked so hard to earn.
ERISA protects the interests of plan participants and their beneficiaries by:
- Requiring the disclosure of financial and other plan information
- Establishing standards of conduct for plan fiduciaries
- Providing for appropriate remedies, sanctions, and access to the federal courts
It’s the fiduciary provisions of ERISA that help protect participants from the mismanagement and abuse of plan assets. The law requires that fiduciaries act prudently, solely in the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries, and for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits and paying reasonable expenses of administering the plan.
Fiduciaries must diversify plan investments to minimize the risk of large losses unless it’s clearly prudent not to do so. Fiduciaries must also avoid conflicts of interest. They cannot allow the plan to engage in certain transactions with the employer, service providers, or other fiduciaries (“parties in interest”). There are also specific rules against self-dealing.
Who is a plan fiduciary? Anyone who:
- Exercises any discretionary control over the plan or its assets
- Has any discretionary responsibility for the administration of the plan
- Provides investment advice for a fee or other compensation (direct or indirect)
Plan fiduciaries may include, for example, discretionary plan trustees, plan administrators, investment managers and advisors, and members of a plan’s investment committee.
Fiduciaries must take their responsibilities seriously. If they fail to comply with ERISA’s requirements, they may be personally liable for any losses incurred by the plan. Criminal liability may also be possible.
About 360 Financial Group
360 Financial Group, founded in 1990, provides a holistic approach to comprehensive wealth management as well as tax and accounting and investment management services. At 360 Financial Group, our MISSION is to be our clients’ primary advisor. We believe our knowledge, experience, and intuitive approach to tax and financial planning gives our clients the confidence they need to help them realize their dreams.
Registered Representative, Securities Offered Through Cambridge Investment Research. Inc., a Registered Broker-Dealer, Member FINRA, SIPC and Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. 360 Financial Group and Cambridge are not affiliated.
Cambridge Investment Group, Inc. is a privately-controlled firm with a national reach across the financial services industry consisting of multiple broker-dealers and RIAs, including Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc. – a large corporate RIA; and Continuity Partners Group, LLC – a special purpose broker-dealer and registered investment advisor; and Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. – an independent broker-dealer, member FINRA/SIPC, that is among the largest privately-controlled independent broker-dealers in the country supporting approximately 3,000 independent financial professionals nationwide who serve their clients as registered representatives and investment advisor representatives, choosing to use either Cambridge’s firm Registered Investment Adviser or their own. For more information visit www.joincambridge.com.
Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
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Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017.