The forth step focuses on actual implementation changes to the portfolio or plan, developed through steps one and two.
- Investment manager searches
- Custodial searches
- Third Party Administrator searches (Defined Contribution Plans)
- Socially Responsible Investing Guidelines and enforcement vendor search
- Negotiate fee structure with investment managers and other vendors
- Development of Revenue Sharing Program (Defined Contribution Plans)
- Provide Administrative support to the internal staff
Investment Manager Searches
Access to – and the use of – analytical resources are critical to the success of any consulting firm. As independent consultants, we access and use multiple sources of data, with the intent of providing unlimited access to analytical tools that will assist us in addressing specific client consulting needs.
We utilize databases of traditional and alternative investment products, which allows us to customize all asset style manager searches for our clients. Due to the open architecture nature of our databases, we have no limitations on the inclusion of investment products or investment managers in our system.
Open Architecture – no limitations.
- Robust database of more than 2,100 separate account managers.
- Full universe of mutual funds, data on 23,000 funds.
- Database of 10,000 hedge funds.
- Illiquid investments (Private Equity, Venture Capital, Real Estate and Real Assets) providing data on more than 2,000 managers.
Investment Manager Search Process
- No limitations to the inclusion of the full universe of separate account managers, commingled products, mutual funds, and alternative investments.
- All searches are customized to meet specific client mandates.
- Desired risk/return profile and expectations.
- Qualitative and quantitative analysis.
- All searches screened by our internal Search Committee before presentation to the client. Search Committee consisting of investment analysts and senior consultants.
We provide our Clients with custodial search capabilities, which allows us to identify the best possible custodial solution for our Clients.
In new client relationships, we review current custodial services to verify fees and the level of services provided to the client. From this analysis, which we review with the client, we can either renegotiate terms of the current custodial agreement or, if needed, conduct an RFP to replace the custodian.
Third-Party Administration Searches
We have a designated team of professionals created specifically to service the needs of our Defined Contribution Plan clients.
Included in our services is a comprehensive RFP process for the selection of Third-Party Administrators.
For our faith-based clients that want to insure their investment portfolio or plans reflect their moral and religious beliefs, we provide assistance in developing and implementing a SRI program.
We have a quarter century of experience in assisting clients in the negotiation and benchmarking of money manager, custodian and third party administrator fees.
Revenue Sharing Arrangements
Revenue sharing arrangements – which essentially use a portion of investment management fees to pay for recordkeeping and trustee services – have been popular with plan sponsors.
The chart below depicts how Revenue Sharing is created by mutual fund firms and allocated to a Plan’s Third Party Administrator. From our perspective these Revenue Sharing distributions are Plan assets and should be accounted for through the use of an ERISA Budget Account, which we address below:
Plan Revenue Sharing
ERISA Budget Accounts
ERISA budget accounts are excellent tools for defined contribution plan sponsors to use to manage expenses and minimize potential fiduciary liability.
They are accounts that can capture excess revenue generated by plan investments, which the plan sponsor can then use to pay plan expenses, or give back to the participants.
Plan sponsors should be aware that there are two distinct types of ERISA budget account available (depending on vendor):
- Plan asset allocated account: excess reallocated to participants if not used
- Vendor held credit toward future expense: Not a plan asset and subject to control by vendor
Of the two, we recommend the former as it does not give control of the funds to a vendor and allows the plan sponsor to direct the funds for the best benefit of the participants.
ERISA budget accounts can benefit plan sponsors and participants. Participants may enjoy a more secure retirement while sponsors benefit through reduced legal risk (fiduciary liability) and greater ease of plan administration and accounting for plan expenses.
ERISA budget accounts help make plan administration easier by helping illuminate how money changes hands between the different service providers of the plan, making it easy to account for how much each service provider is collecting in fees.
Sponsors are required to insure all expenses charged to the plan (paid by plan participants) are reasonable (competitive).
After an accounting is done detailing the total fees collected by the service providers, plan sponsors can easily check to make sure each fee is reasonable.
Participants benefit from these ERISA accounts through plan cost savings. Small decreases in costs can have dramatic effects over time, which increase participants’ account balances allowing them to:
- Retire earlier;
- Retire with a more satisfying lifestyle; or
- Retire with more confidence and comfort that they won’t outlive their money.
One of the goals of our Client Services Team is to reduce the administrative burdens placed upon our clients’ internal staff in the management of the portfolio or plan. In many client relationships, we act as an extension of the client’s internal staff and the outsourcing some of the administrative functions to our staff, such as:
- Wire transfers
- Account transactions
- Manager contracts
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