• Help Employees Retire Ready

    More than 50% of employees are not on track to meet their retirement needs

    Eliminate Excessive Fees

    Many plans are paying 20%-60% higher fees than are necessary for the services actually being received. Excessive fees can reduce future nest-eggs by more than 30%

    Limit Your Liability

    What you don't know can hurt you... and your employees. You can be held personally liable and financially responsible for fiduciary violations regardless of your knowledge, intent or whether the Plan was actually harmed or not.

    Improve Investment Performance

    Over 80% of the fund managers fail to beat the market

    Remove Conflicts of Interest

    The price tag that lasts for a lifetime


    Making your plan better and your job managing it a whole lot easier

    As an employer and sponsor of a defined contribution plan, you and your company carry a major responsibility. You must listen to the needs of your employees and then select the appropriate service providers at a reasonable cost, determine the optimal plan design provisions, ensure your plan is administered properly, and educate and inform plan participants. All of this hopefully results in a plan that inspires employees to reach their retirement dreams, while helping you recruit and retain valuable associates.


    However, with all the defining and redefining of the role of a fiduciary, continued participant lawsuits, and the recognition that a plan sponsor’s fiduciary liability is also a personal liability, managing your retirement plan can be daunting.

    • How do you know if your company is meeting these challenges?
    • How do you know if your plan is working?
    • How do you ensure that plan costs are reasonable?
    • How do you protect yourself as a fiduciary?
    • How do you select qualified providers or investments?
    • Does your organization have the resources to handle these responsibilities alone?

    Etzler Financial Advisors provides fiduciary support and guidance as well as discretionary and non-discretionary investment management services to help you manage costs, monitor performance, understand and implement fiduciary practices, and assist plan participants with their retirement planning goals.


    Get the most from your retirement plan

    Ensure you have the right plan

    Limit your fiduciary liability

    Help employees retire ready

    Invest confidently

    Establish a prudent process

    Enhance your plan & cut costs

    Cut through the complexity

    Seek qualified help


    What's the best plan for your firm and your employees?

    There are many types of retirement plans, and even more ways to configure them. We optimize your plan by aligning it with your goals, your business and your unique set of employees. Each relevant design feature is examined with ideas to improve plan value. We work directly with you to develop tailored solutions that help:

    • Maximize benefits to owners;
    • Recognize the value of key employees;
    • Provide varying contribution and allocation formulas for different groups of employees;
    • Better manage tax opportunities; and
    • Maximize employee participation and goodwill

    How can you be sure you plan is in compliance?

    Most plan sponsors aren’t completely sure what’s required of them as fiduciaries. But it’s important - and you can be held personally liable for any breaches of your fiduciary duties.You can also be held responsible for the misconduct of your plan's service providers.


    Effective compliance isn’t just about following a process; it requires looking at the right information in the right way. This requires asking the right questions, critically examining the pertinent issues, performing quality analysis, and properly documenting the “prudent” process.


    You may believe that one or more of your service providers (e.g. advisor, TPA, mutual fund company, payroll provider, etc.) protects your company and its plan fiduciaries from liability. Unfortunately, most service providers assume ZERO fiduciary responsibility for employer-sponsored retirement plans. You can reduce your liability exposure by delegating key responsibilities to service providers. However, the only way for a service provider to acknowledge fiduciary responsibility for the services they provide is in writing – in their contract.


    You may also believe that your liability diminishes because your employees have the opportunity to choose their own investments. Shifting the obligation for investment selection to employees does not change the legal responsibility for the plan sponsor. As the plan sponsor, you have a continuing duty to select, monitor, and remove imprudent investments from the plan.


    We help you to reduce your liability exposure by establishing and executing a disciplined process to demonstrate compliance with ERISA. We develop and integrated program that puts in place prudent processes and organizational structures that lead to well-informed decision-making, risk management and a higher probability of successful outcomes for your firm and your employees.


    Do your employees receive personal investment advice or general education?

    Helping employees understand and make informed decisions about their participation in your retirement plan is not only a fiduciary responsibility, but it is critical in helping them reach their retirement goals.


    Many employee education programs merely provide some generic educational information and are conducted by firms whose primary purpose is to sell financial products, not to educate employees. We are strong advocates of making education and communication informative, engaging, interactive and conflict-free.


    Education helps lay the groundwork. But there is no substitution for one-on-one advice to help employees become more confident
    and work towards achieving retirement success. Studies have shown that employees who rely on professional investment advice:

    • Earn nearly 3% more than those that do not employ help
    • Accumulate 55-70% more wealth over a 20 year period
    • Portfolios constructed using help outperform those without help 87% of the time

    We offer employees one-on-one counseling and fiduciary advice with a Certified Financial Planner™ and Certified Retirement Counselor® professional. This personalized conflict-free guidance helps your employees sort through the mumbo-jumbo and choose the right mix of investments to help maximize their their standard of living in retirement.


    Do you have a formal process for selecting, monitoring, and replacing investments?

    Some of the most challenging decisions for which you are responsible center on investment menu design, including the selection, monitoring, and replacement of the options you offer to employees. It is well established that courts apply a “prudent expert” standard of care under ERISA, not a “prudent person” standard. The relevant standard is NOT what you might do in investing your own money; it’s what an expert would do in investing someone else’s money.


    We keep you abreast of changing investment types, investment best practices, performance measures and other items that may impact the options you offer to your employees. As a §3(21) fiduciary, we will help you to build, monitor, and maintain a best-in-class investment menu. And for §3(38) clients, we will handle all of the investment decisions entirely, giving you the maximum amount of liability protection.


    As an independent fiduciary, we have the ability to seek the best possible solutions to meet your needs and can work with virtually every investment platform.


    What systems are in place to help you meet your fiduciary responsibilities?

    A well-organized and effective retirement plan committee is the cornerstone of successful fiduciary decision-making and organizational risk management for plans of any size. The use of a committee for fiduciary decision-making can help to reduce risks and ensure that the retirement plan provides benefits to participants effectively and efficiently.


    Formal committee meetings should occur on a regular basis, and the most effective fiduciaries maintain a regular governance calendar. To provide evidence that you have followed a prudent oversight process, meeting agendas should be prepared to detail the items to be discussed and/or acted on, minutes should be kept to document discussions and actions, and all reviewed materials should be maintained in your plan’s fiduciary audit files along with the minutes.


    We help you to establish or refine your plan committee. We design and promote a clearly organized oversight structure that includes choosing and formally appointing committee members, establishing a committee charter and acknowledging all appointments in writing.


    We educate your committee members on their fiduciary responsibilities and corresponding best practices to improve their decision-making and decrease organizational and personal liability.


    We organize, lead, and document regular meetings that occur with your committee, reviewing and discussing multiple aspects of the plan and preparing all meeting deliverables as well as follow-up minutes. We help you to create and maintain a fiduciary audit file to serve as the central location for all plan-related information and to help ensure documentation is in order.


    Have you benchmarked your plan within the last 3 years?

    Without question, the number one source of fiduciary liability is paying excessive plan fees. Plan sponsors are often uninformed about the “true” cost of their retirement plan, unknowingly accepting higher fees or being unaware of lower-cost options.


    Determining the reasonableness of fees is an explicit fiduciary obligation for plan sponsors under ERISA. You must ensure that fees are and continue to be reasonable in light of the services rendered. It’s important for you to understand, and document, how much is being paid, the parties being paid and the services being provided. You should also identify and eliminate potential conflicts of interest among plan providers, advisors, and other parties that influence plan decisions.


    We help you establish an oversight process for benchmarking fees and reviewing service arrangements on an annual basis. Benchmarking enhances your ability to evaluate that: 1) the agreement or arrangement is reasonable; 2) the services are necessary, and 3) the compensation is reasonable.


    Lower plan costs leads to more money in the accounts of employees and ultimately, a better future.


    How do you get help with the day-to-day operations, questions, and concerns?

    There are many challenges to operating a retirement plan effectively. You are not in the business of managing retirement plans, so it’s important to have an advisor who will coordinate initiatives and interactions to help your plan run smoothly.


    We take the lead and relieve you from many of the administrative and compliance burdens. We make the complex simple – by identifying the key issues, interpreting, and providing clear direction on how to move forward.


    We serve as an intermediary to help you and your employees resolve concerns, get answers to questions, and conduct ongoing monitoring to determine if other plan providers are performing their duties in a satisfactory and cost-effective manner.


    We serve as your advocate and negotiate lower fees and upgraded services with service providers, assuring that fees and potential conflicts of interest are disclosed.


    Just because you've had the same relationship for a long time doesn't mean it's working

    While there are a number of financial advisors eager to manage investments, today's plan sponsors need more than investment advice to properly manage their retirement plan. You need an advisor who has the expertise and in-depth knowledge of ERISA and fiduciary standards of conduct AND will serve as a fiduciary to your plan. Your advisor should be able to employ fiduciary “best practices” and perform a broad array of fiduciary and non-fiduciary services such as help with evaluating and selecting appropriate investment options and service providers, meeting ERISA compliance standards, and helping your employees achieve retirement readiness — all while mitigating your fiduciary risk.

    • So how do you know how to find and select a qualified advisor?
    • What characteristics should you look for in a qualified plan advisor?
    • What are the services that distinguish a qualified plan advisor?

    Finding a qualified plan advisor can be difficult for a variety of reasons, including:

    • There is a knowledge gap – plan sponsors are at a disadvantage when they don’t know what they don’t know. As a result, an advisor with exceptional “sales” skills may be chosen over an exceptionally competent advisor that improves plan value, enhances participant outcomes, and reduces liability for the employer and the plan fiduciaries.
    • Most plan sponsors don’t know the questions to ask, nor do they have the proper tools or experience to properly evaluate the answers, the proposal, or the advisor.
    • There is a shortage of time, and although ERISA requires plan sponsors to have sufficient information to make informed decisions about the services, costs, and qualifications of an advisor, few plan sponsors perform proper due diligence when evaluating, hiring, and monitoring their advisor.

    The good news is that you've already found a qualified advisor -- you're on our website! But how do you really know? To many, all advisors look alike on the surface. How do you identify the advisors that engage in better processes to produce better results and create a better experience for your company and your employees?


    We suggest you visit Selecting the Right Retirement Plan Advisor as a start, then request the Retirement Plan Advisor Comparison Checklist.


    Or click here to schedule a time for us to talk. We're one of only a handful of firms in Northern California that offer true fiduciary responsibility and we take the success of your plan very seriously.


    It's not necessary to move your plan to a new recordkeeper or investment provider in order to benefit from our exceptional services. We can service your existing plan and you'll likely find superior service and deeper support at a lower cost than you're currently paying today.


    Independent conflict-free fiduciary services

    Etzler Financial Advisors offers a full range of retirement plan services customized to meet your needs. Our fee is negotiated in advance and will vary depending on a number of factors, including:

    • Scope of services;
    • Estimated time to perform scope of services;
    • Complexity of the assignment;
    • Size of plan; and
    • Nature and frequency of meetings and reports.

    For continuous services, we generally charge a fixed dollar retainer fee based on the factors listed above. Alternatively, plan sponsors may choose to pay for continuous services using the asset-based fee method. Our services are also available as single service engagements for a fixed fee or on an hourly basis.


    For all retirement plan engagements, the fee for services will be determined on a case-by-case basis and payment terms will be fully disclosed in your advisory agreement.


    Etzler Financial Advisors is a fee-only fiduciary and we never accept commissions or any other form of third party compensation. We do not receive, share in or accept any fees charged by third parties.

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