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Adding Self-Directed Brokerage Accounts to Your Retirement Benefits Plan

Categories: Insights |

Participants may be attracted to self-directed brokerage accounts (SDBAs) because of the seemingly infinite choice of investment options. While it’s tempting to please these often-vocal employees, much consideration should be given when contemplating an SDBA option for your qualified retirement plan. There are several fiduciary issues your committee should discuss, decide, and document.

Outside Advisors

The impetus for the interest may be that participants want to take advantage of the advice from an outside advisor with the intention of giving them access to the account to make trades. If so, the advisor may be said to perform as a discretionary investment manager. ERISA Section 3(38) requires the plan sponsor to enter into an agreement with the advisor, as well as monitor the advisor’s actions.

“Unsuitable” Investments

The plan sponsor could be exposing themselves to an ERISA lawsuit from beneficiaries unhappy their selected advisor was allowed to buy investments “unsuitable” for retirement plans such as illiquid investment options, life insurance, etc. Plan sponsors can attempt to mitigate this risk by limiting what can be purchased via the SDBA account to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or ETFs.

Responsibility to Monitor Fees

The plan sponsor needs to understand the fees associated with the SDBA and determine their reasonableness. Just because the participant elects to utilize an SDBA account does not mean the plan sponsor has abdicated responsibility for ensuring costs are reasonable.

Plan Sponsor Relief

Remember, plan sponsors have safeharbor protection under ERISA Section 404(c) which states that the participant has assumed control over their account by electing to invest via the SDBA. However, 404(c) relief is lost if the investment options pose an imprudent risk of loss. In addition, there are over 50 subsections to 404(c) that must be met to achieve the safeharbor protection. Noncompliant fiduciaries are accepting liability for whatever investments decisions the participant makes within an SDBA account. And ERISA Section 404a-5 still applies to SDBA accounts. The plan sponsor must ensure the participant is receiving an annual disclosure of fees that is accurate. All too often this does not take place with SDBA accounts.

Participants Matter Most

An SDBA account can offer plan participants new opportunities to invest for retirement. It’s important though to understand and address the risks associated to avoid mistakes that could harm your employees’ long-term financial future.

For support in understanding the risks, the regulations, and how you can navigate options like this for your business, Domani Wealth’s Business Retirement Plan advisors are ready and available to start a conversation. We can answer questions, discuss complex layers, and help you have peace of mind that you’re in compliance and serving your employees well. Get in touch with us today by calling 855-855-5455 or email info@domaniwealth.com.

 

 

Important Disclosure

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this article serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Domani. A copy of Domani’s current written disclosure brochure discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available upon request.

PLEASE SEE ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

 

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