Should I distribute the Fiduciary Investment Review to plan participants?

Q & A from a former practicing ERISA attorney

Welcome to our new question and answer feature. Periodically we will be posting a Q&A segment that will feature plan sponsor questions by former practicing ERISA attorney Joel Shapiro.

Q: Should I distribute the Fiduciary Investment Review to plan participants?

A: I appreciate your desire to provide detailed information to your plan participants, but hold your horses. While there is nothing legally preventing the sharing of the Fiduciary Investment Review (FIR) with participants, we do not recommend it and, in fact, strongly discourage it. The FIR is designed for delivery to fiduciaries, not participants. This is not only because the fiduciaries are more sophisticated but because the report is better understood (I would even say, only understood) when presented/explained by an advisor that knows the data. The average participant may be alarmed by watchlisted funds and take inappropriate action (i.e., remove them from his/her portfolio when that’s not the recommendation.) Further, we fear that participants will move all their money into the funds scoring 9 or 10 as you can imagine, doing so would ignore the critical strategy of diversification. Instead of sharing the report itself, I always recommend an employee communication from the plan sponsor. Something like – “Hey employees, the company has met with our plan advisor to review the plan investments and all is doing great. We take the monitoring seriously, we do it regularly and will let you know when/if a change is needed… Until then, don’t forget to join, increase your deferral, diversify, etc, etc.” No need to alarm unnecessarily.

About Joel Shiparo, JD. LLM

As a former practicing ERISA attorney Joel works to ensure that plan sponsors stay fully informed on all legislative and regulatory matters. Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and his Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at the American University.

Founded in the 1950s, Carroll Consultants, Ltd. provides investment advisory, retirement plan consulting and administration services to clients throughout the country. For further information about this article, please contact Marcie Carroll at mcarroll@cclbenefits.com or (610) 225-1210.