Countless regulations and an industry full of providers concerned with their own liability and profit have left employers with the time consuming burden of running their plans.
We do the work of managing your plan, so you can focus on more important things, like running your business.
As a fiduciary to your plan, our comprehensive management services allows you to outsource responsibility and liability, while retaining control.
The health of your business is directly connected to the health and well-being of your greatest asset: your people. The stress employees feel over their finances impacts both their productivity and their personal lives. If they aren’t working with an advisor, they are 50 percent less likely to be on track for their retirement goals. We provide your employees with the personalized support they need to understand their options, make smart choices, and get on the path to financial peace of mind.
Why financial wellness is important for employers
Today’s employers are competing to attract and retain qualified employees, endeavoring to keep their workforce focused and productive, and managing limited resources for employee benefits, all while trying to remain competitive in a global economy.
In this challenging environment, employers are taking note of employees facing financial difficulties and drawing connections between their finances and their overall health and wellness, and job performance. Research shows financial stress takes an emotional toll; it can adversely affect people’s physical health and well-being as well as productivity.
Why financial wellness is important for employees
Over time, employees have come to assume more and more of their own benefit expenses. Take health insurance, for example, where many private employers have employees co-pay a portion of their overall health expenses. Likewise, as fewer employers are offering traditional pensions, much of the responsibility of saving for retirement has been shifted to employees through plans like 401(k)s.
Over the years, employees have spent hours in “enrollment” meetings learning about saving and investing for retirement. Even when employees grasp the importance of saving for retirement, in the end, they also know that their money only goes so far.
It’s not that employees are not concerned about their ability to retire, it’s just that many wrestle with present‐day challenges that cloud their focus on the future. Consider the financial state of affairs for the average employee:
Objectivity, insight and expertise from someone who has your employees best interests in mind
Etzler Financial Advisors provides a multichannel financial wellness experience designed with a balance of person‐to‐person and digital interactions. We provide ongoing access to conflict-free financial education, guidance, and coaching from a Certified Financial Planner™ with the intent of helping employees develop better financial habits and behaviors and make informed financial decisions that are in their best interest.
Employees work with a Certified Financial Planner™ professional to develop a personalized plan for themselves and their family.
Employees can easily track goal progress, access spending plans, investments, document vault, and use tools to help them stay on track.
Employees have access to educational workshops, webinars, training modules, videos, best practice articles, and other online resources.
Employees have 24/7 access to a Certified Financial Planner™ professional to address personal financial questions and challenges.
Alerts & Monitoring
Employees will receive notifications to keep their plan on track and informational updates targeted to their personal preferences.
In recent years, many plan sponsors have been left exposed to employee lawsuits over high fees and poor investment options. While the industry has turned the word "fiduciary" into a marketing buzzword, carefully crafting contracts that limit their exposure, our approach is different. We have always operated as a fiduciary to our clients—acting in your best interest underscores our commitment to your success and your employees. As an ERISA 3(38) investment manager, we reduce your liability by taking on investment selection, monitoring, and replacement within your plan, giving you an extra layer of legal protection.
Establish a prudent oversight structure
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.
At Etzler FInancial Advisors, we can 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 will 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.
Limit your fiduciary liability
Employers often don’t completely understand 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. It requires asking the right questions, critically examining the pertinent issues, performing quality analysis, and properly documenting the “prudent” process.
Most service providers assume ZERO fiduciary responsibility for employer-sponsored retirement plans, carefully crafting contracts that limit their exposure. Our approach is different — we embrace our role as a fiduciary to your plan and believe it underscores our commitment to the success of your plan and its participants. We take the time to educate you on your liability rather than use it as a scare tactic and we offer practical solutions to demonstrate compliance with ERISA and help you minimize your liability.
Training for informed decision-making
The courts have made it clear that fiduciaries for employer-sponsored retirement plans must understand their responsibilities and be equipped to serve. There is no regulation that requires formalized fiduciary training and education, but the DOL is now requesting retirement plan fiduciaries to show proof of annual fiduciary training in order to show “fiduciary prudence.”
Etzler Financial Advisors provides fiduciary education and training for employers and their committee members. We review fiduciary responsibilities and corresponding best practices to improve their decision-making and decrease organizational and personal liability.
Help employees retire ready
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.
At Etzler Financial Advisors, 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 make informed decisions about their personal finances and financial future.
Enhance your plan and cut costs
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.
At Etzler Financial Advisors, we help you establish a process for benchmarking fees and reviewing service arrangements on a regular 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.
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. Lower plan costs leads to more money in the accounts of employees and ultimately, a better future.
Few aspects of a retirement plan have as direct an impact on participant assets, or carry as much fiduciary risk, as the investment lineup. 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.
Most retirement plan advisors don’t have an investment philosophy. When it comes to employer-sponsored retirement programs, many employees are burdened with choices they don’t understand or limited to plans with high fees. As a fee-only fiduciary firm, protecting and growing our clients’ assets is our focus and our passion. Our investment philosophy focuses on what we can control—costs, diversification, and allocation. We offer simplified investment options that minimize plan costs and provide fee transparency, with a goal of increasing retirement outcomes for your employees.
How we help
Etzler Financial Advisors utilizes a prudent investment management process to guide you through designing, implementing, and continuously improving your plan’s investment lineup. Our services begin by drafting an Investment Policy Statement, which serves as the blueprint for building a sound, customized investment lineup and maintaining a steady course moving forward. From there, we implement our tested and proven process, based on comprehensive quantitative and qualitative criteria, to help you select the right managers for your plan. 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.
In doing so, Etzler Financial Advisors can act in one of two capacities with regards to your organization’s retirement plan.
3(38) Investment Manager
By retaining Etzler Financial Advisors as the plan’s 3(38) Investment Manager, the plan sponsor delegates the liability and responsibility for the plan’s investment lineup, and only remain responsible for the decision to retain Etzler Financial Advisors as a plan fiduciary. This offers you the maximum amount of fiduciary protection for your plan’s investments available under ERISA.
3(21) Investment Advisor
For plan sponsors wishing to only delegate partial responsibility to us, Etzler Financial Advisors can act as a co-fiduciary. In this capacity, we provide the same level of due diligence and oversight of the investment options, however the plan sponsor retains the decision-making authority and the fiduciary responsibility for those decisions.
There are many types of retirement plans, and even more ways to configure them. The design of your retirement plan is not just an operational function. The features and provisions in your plan can have a direct impact on your organization’s finances and employee satisfaction.
We help you to 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:
Help on demand
One of the most frustrating parts of managing a retirement plan is trying to get an answer to a question or resolution to an issue. Who do you ask? What number do you call? Will they ever call back? How do you decipher the legalese?
At Etzler Financial Advisors, we can take the lead and provide relief from many of the administrative and compliance burdens that arise. 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.
Documentation on demand
The key to minimizing fiduciary liability is to demonstrate “prudent process.” The documentation of the plan’s fiduciary conduct is the basis for defense against claims of malfeasance and breach of duty. To provide evidence of a prudent oversight process, meeting documentation and reviewed materials should be maintained in your fiduciary audit files.
At Etzler Financial Advisors, we help you to organize and securely store retirement plan records. While hard copies of information are sufficient, we provide you with a secure, online portal for quick and easy access to all plan-related information for an Internal Revenue Service or Department of Labor audit.
Entering into a advisory relationship is an important decision that has significant lifelong implications for both the employer and employees. For this reason, we offer a no-charge, no-obligation introductory consultation in person, by phone, or online. During the consultation, you will meet with a seasoned Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist® to discuss what is important to you and your employees. If we're in a position to help and we're a good fit, we'll provide you with a written proposal that outlines what you can expect from our relationship. And because we're fee-only fiduciary advisors, you can be assured that you will receive 1) real advice, never a sales pitch; 2) a prudent process; and 3) a holistic approach to your situation.