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401k Plan Committee Meetings: Preparation, Execution and Agenda Suggestions

    

The 401k retirement plan committee is the cornerstone of your retirement plan governance system.

Any number of individuals can be asked to serve on the plan committee. For some, serving on the committee may be part of their job responsibilities. Others voluntarily serve. Regardless of the reason, all members share the unique fiduciary responsibility for making decisions on behalf of the current and future beneficiaries of the plan. This fiduciary responsibility entails a long list of tasks, duties and obligations to be perform each year.

The following plan committee meetings agenda suggestions offer you a starting place to ensure that the committee is performing those tasks, duties and obligations.

Remember, this is just a starting point. It is not a complete or comprehensive list. Because each plan is different, timing on these suggested items may vary. Use good judgment and be sure to consult with your various plan and legal advisors.

Meeting Preparation

  • Notify committee/board members of meeting dates in writing, or if notified by email, confirmed with follow-up phone call.
  • Schedule meetings four quarters in advance to maximize proactivity.
  • Notify and confirm attendance of stenographer or minute taker. Documenting the proceedings, deliberations, and decisions made in these meetings is critical.
  • Provide each committee member with prior meeting materials, including prior meeting minutes and agenda.
  • Provide each committee member with an agenda for current meeting.
  • Notify service providers or other outside advisors of meeting date and time.
  • Schedule and ready meeting room.

Meeting Execution

  • Chairperson calls meeting to order.
  • Chairperson reviews and approves prior minutes.
  • Chairperson confirms that action items from prior meeting were completed as delegated.
  • Chairperson briefly summarizes current agenda (see agenda suggestions below).
  • Reports - Bring in service providers who are to give reports.
    1. Investment and/or financial advisor.
    2. Recordkeeper.
    3. Custodian/Trustee.
    4. Actuary, CPA and or Legal Counsel.
  • New action items discussed and delegated.
  • Review and approve (or reject) transaction requests (distributions, loans, transfers etc).
  • If necessary, communications to participants/beneficiaries defined and scheduled.
  • Procedural Prudence standards reviewed.
  • Fiduciary training provided if necessary and appropriate.

Some Suggested Quarterly Agenda Items

First Quarter of Plan Year

  • Review compliance tests from prior plan year. Issues not resolved in 4th quarter are resolved within 2½ months following first day of plan year.
  • Confirm final employer contribution numbers.
  • Review of prior year investments due diligence and performance reports.
  • Review business plan for prior plan year.
  • Review performance, fees, and services of providers, including recordkeepers, retirement plan advisers and consultants, and other vendors, by benchmarking against similarly sized plans.
  • Authorize changes to investments if necessary. All investment changes must strictly conform to the committees "Investment Policy Statement."

Second Quarter of Plan Year

  • Obtain final 5500 and schedules.
  • Plan sponsor representative to sign form 5500.
  • Review plan financial statements.
  • Review current loan and hardship withdrawal requests and trends.
  • Review loan or hardship withdrawal policies and procedures.
  • Review first quarter investment due diligence and performance reports.
  • Authorize changes to investments if necessary. All investment changes must strictly conform to the committees "Investment Policy Statement."

Third Quarter of Plan Year

  • Discuss pending changes and any legislative updates for subsequent plan years.
  • Re-evaluate plan design and documents in relationship to changes in employee demographics, changes in regulations or legislation, and changes in your organization's business objectives.
  • Adopt necessary amendments or restatements.
  • Confirm form 5500 was filed in timely manner and SAR was distributed.
  • Review covered service provider fee disclosures and take any action necessary.
  • Review second quarter investment due diligence and performance reports.
  • Authorize changes to investments if necessary. All investment changes must strictly conform to the committees "Investment Policy Statement."

Fourth Quarter of Plan Year

  • Ensure that all annual notices (e.g., safe harbor 401k notice, automatic enrollment notice and QDIA notice) have been or are scheduled to be sent.
  • Review plan document with legal counsel to ensure it is current, updated for all regulatory changes, and in full compliance with ERISA. Initiate corrections as appropriate to ensure regulatory compliance.
  • Review third quarter investment due diligence and performance reports.
  • Confirm that participant fee disclosures are scheduled.
  • Confirm committee/board has adhered to exclusive benefit rule.
  • Review fiduciary practice standards.
  • Annual review "Investment Policy Statement" and make changes if necessary.
  • Confirm that investments conform to "Investment Policy Statement" criteria.
  • Authorize changes to investments if necessary. All investment changes must strictly conform to the committees "Investment Policy Statement."

Other articles related to this issue:

COLLECTED WISDOM™ On Investment Committees -- we have collected a number of articles related investment committee issues and best practices here.

This article is provided as general guidance on the subject covered and is not provided as legal advice. Any legal issues should be reviewed by your legal counsel to apply the law to the particular facts of your situation.


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