Retirement Plan Consulting
Epoch delivers custom fiduciary solutions to retirement plan sponsors across the nation for defined contribution, defined benefit, and nonqualified executive compensation plans. Our documented processes are designed to help our clients navigate through the ever-changing and intricate world of retirement plans.
We commit in writing to serve as your fiduciary advisor and we partner with you in managing the operation and maintenance of your plan. Our comprehensive suite of services includes fiduciary compliance, investment due diligence, participant education and advice, plan design, cost control, and fee transparency. Epoch’s approach uniquely positions us to help employers reduce and control plan costs, increase participation and contribution rates, minimize fiduciary liability, and build retirement plans with investment flexibility.
Maintaining an appropriate retirement plan for your company may be a daunting task, especially when you consider all the variables in running a successful business. As a co-fiduciary, Epoch’s role is to provide management with top-level guidance on all aspects of plan operations. Whether you are converting your plan, changing one or more service providers, updating your investment menu, promoting your plan’s features and benefits, or fine-tuning your plan on an ongoing basis, our core consulting services help you make sound decisions.
A non-qualified deferred compensation plan can be a valuable supplement to a company’s 401(k) and other qualified retirement plans, giving employers an edge in recruiting and retaining valuable executive leadership. There is also a growing importance of executive deferred compensation amid rising tax rates and increasing government restrictions on qualified plans.
As a fee-only investment advisor, Epoch provides objective advice on the type of executive compensation plan that will best meet your corporate and employee needs—not the plan that pays the highest commission. After selecting the appropriate plan, we search for a low cost service provider, and we support you and the program by offering ongoing consulting, communication and education, and investment advice.
Executive compensation plans can be complex and we want you to have the tools and knowledge to make good decisions. We want you to be in control, and to remain in control from start to finish.
Fiduciary Risk Management and Compliance Consulting
Epoch understands that compliance with both regulatory changes and recent industry trends is not just important, but mandatory for retirement plan success. For many of our clients, we work with the plan’s Investment Committee, human resources staff, and ERISA counsel to ensure the plan is updated and operating according to the mandated plan rules and regulations. We attend meetings and prepare Committee minutes.
Plan sponsors and trustees are legally responsible for the operation and maintenance of their retirement plan. Make sure you devote the resources necessary to ensure that your plan runs smoothly and efficiently, and remains legally compliant. The scope of your fiduciary responsibility is broad. It includes plan design, administration and compliance, investment performance, participant education, trust, and custodial services.
A sound framework limits fiduciary liability within the organization and empowers those delegated to proactively manage the plan to ensure its ongoing benefit to participants.
Investment Selection and Monitoring
We work with you in developing and refining your investment objectives and Investment Policy Statement to minimize your liabilities and create an optimal investment lineup for the plan and its participants.
Epoch employs an investment selection process that incorporates employee behavioral trends and employer demographics into the selection process. Although we design both simple and complex core fund lists, we favor a simple menu with increased focus on educating participants about savings and asset allocation, and less on explaining the differences between equity fund styles. While we strive to maximize long-term returns for participants with our investment selections, picking investment options is only a small part of what Epoch brings to the table. Our expertise and background in monitoring investments and investment education are vital to the fiduciary process in meeting the needs of plan sponsors and trustees and the retirement needs of the participants.
Participant Education and Enrollment
Epoch’s mission is to build and preserve employee wealth for retirement by providing and supporting the tools and knowledge needed for employees to make good decisions. Whether we are part of a team in a “bundled platform” or sole provider in an “unbundled platform”, participant education is vital to the success of any plan. And with our conflict-free structure, you and your employees are assured that the recommendations received are objective and fully independent — Epoch offers no proprietary 401(k) plan or investments.
The most important decision an employee has to make is to contribute to the plan. Epoch wants to help make that decision an easy one. Epoch is committed to providing a customized program that fits the needs of the employer, the trustees, and the employees: Better decisions mean better results.
Vendor Management and Comparative Analysis
It is commonly known that plan sponsors, and their committees, can only pay reasonable fees from retirement plan assets. How does the committee know whether a particular expense is reasonable or not? There is a two-part test: Part 1 is qualitative (measuring the value of the service received) and Part 2 is quantitative (measuring the cost against a documented standard). Epoch can help you with both tests: first, with establishing goals and measuring the results; and second, benchmarking your plan against appropriate peer-group data to compare costs. If the facts show you are paying unreasonable expenses for the services received, then you need to make changes. Epoch can help you negotiate fees paid to your service providers and the level and type of services delivered to the plan. We also conduct vendor searches (RFPs & RFIs).
A fiduciary review of your retirement plan program is an essential step to make sure that your employees are receiving the best benefit plan available. Our focus within the retirement plan marketplace, and our conflict-free structure, enable us to serve as a trusted partner for our clients. Successful retirement plans don’t happen by chance. Rather, they are the result of thoughtful employers making informed decisions.