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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Marsh

What is Fiduciary Responsibility?

Picture this: You're a visionary business owner determined to attract and retain the best talent in your industry. You've crafted innovative strategies, fostered a positive workplace culture, and now, it's time to take your commitment to the next level by setting up a retirement plan for your employees. But wait, before you dive in headfirst, there's a crucial concept you need to grasp—fiduciary responsibility. What is fiduciary responsibility? Why is it so central to successful retirement planning? Join us as we provide a comprehensive overview of fiduciary responsibility, its types, legal requirements, and how RPCSI can be your trusted fiduciary partner. 




Business man answering the question, "what is a fiduciary responsibility?"


What is a Fiduciary?

A fiduciary is an individual or entity entrusted with managing and making decisions about a retirement plan on behalf of the plan participants. They have a legal and ethical obligation to act in the best interests of the participants and beneficiaries.  

 

What is Fiduciary Responsibility?

Fiduciary responsibility refers to the legal and ethical obligation to act in the best interests of another party. This responsibility is critical for retirement plan sponsors and participants as it ensures their interests are protected. 

 

Legal Requirements and Regulations

Various legal requirements and regulations govern fiduciary responsibility. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) sets guidelines for fiduciaries, outlining their responsibilities, obligations, and standards of conduct. These regulations are crucial when protecting participants' retirement savings and preventing any conflicts of interest. 

 

Types of Fiduciary Responsibilities

Fiduciary responsibilities fall under six key categories: 

 

1. Duty of Loyalty 

The duty of loyalty requires fiduciaries to act solely in the best interests of the plan participants and beneficiaries. They must avoid conflicts of interest and prioritize the long-term financial well-being of the plan. 

  

Example: A fiduciary must not engage in transactions that would benefit themselves or any other party at the plan participants' expense. 

  

2. Duty of Care 

The duty of care demands fiduciaries exercise prudence and diligence in managing the retirement plan. They must make informed and well-reasoned decisions, considering the interests of the participants. 

  

Example: A fiduciary should conduct thorough research and due diligence before selecting investments for the plan, ensuring they align with the participants' risk tolerance and long-term goals. 

  

3. Duty of Good Faith 

Fiduciaries must always act honestly, in good faith, and with the utmost integrity. They should communicate transparently and provide accurate information to plan participants, enabling them to make informed decisions about their retirement savings. 

  

Example: A fiduciary should promptly address any concerns or questions participants raise and provide clear and honest explanations. 

  


With the question, "what is fiduciary responsibility," part of the answer it the duty to communicate effectively.

Communicating transparently is an important part of being a fiduciary.


4. Duty to Disclose 

Fiduciaries have a duty to share complete and accurate information related to the retirement plan with the participant. This includes disclosing any fees, investment options, and potential conflicts of interest. 

  

Example: A fiduciary should provide participants with comprehensive statements detailing their account balances, investment performance, and any associated fees. 

  

5. Duty of Prudence 

The duty of prudence requires fiduciaries to exercise sound judgment and diligence when making decisions about the retirement plan. They must act with the skill, care, and expertise a prudent person would employ in a similar role. 

  

Example: A fiduciary should regularly review and assess the performance of plan investments, adjusting as necessary to ensure they remain suitable and aligned with participants' goals. 

  

6. Duty of Obedience 

The duty of obedience requires fiduciaries to follow applicable laws, regulations, and plan documents, ensuring the plan operates in compliance with established procedures. 

  

Example: A fiduciary should ensure plan contributions and distributions are made in accordance with IRS and DOL guidelines, avoiding penalties and potential legal ramifications. 

 

In addition to the duties mentioned above, other fiduciary responsibilities may apply. This includes the duty to diversify plan investments to minimize risk and the duty to monitor plan investments and service providers to ensure their continued suitability. 

 

RPCSI: Your Trusted Fiduciary Partner

At RPCSI, we are committed to upholding the highest standards of fiduciary responsibility. Our team of CEFEX certified professionals understands the intricacies of retirement plan administration and is dedicated to ensuring your plan's success. We fulfill our fiduciary responsibilities by diligently adhering to legal requirements, providing transparent and personalized communication, and advocating for your best interests. 


If you are a business owner looking to design and sponsor a retirement plan, consider partnering with RPCSI. With our expertise and dedication to fiduciary responsibility, we can help you create an attractive retirement plan that not only benefits your employees but also enhances your overall talent retention strategies. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we will help you navigate the complexities of retirement planning with confidence. 



Retirement Plan Administrator Certifications: Why Are They Important? Find out in our certifications guide! Click here to download.

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