NEW YORK--(The Guardian Insurance & Annuity Company, Inc. (GIAC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (www.Guardianlife.com) and Pension Resource Institute, LLC (PRI), announced today the launch of The Resource Optimizer™, a new tool for financial professionals to use with plan sponsors to help them establish the need and value of service provider support. The Resource Optimizer™ enables clients to determine plan risks, employer needs and the opportunity costs of implementing a retirement plan.)--With the advent of fee disclosure and a complex, ever-changing regulatory landscape,
“In light of the recent regulatory changes, we expect employers to devote more time to addressing retirement plan governance over the next two years”
“Fee disclosure, a changing regulatory landscape and broker/dealer restrictions on fiduciary roles are creating significant opportunities for both experienced financial professionals and non-fiduciary financial professionals, particularly in the small-plan retirement marketplace, which accounts for the vast majority of plans,” said Jason Frain, Vice President, 401(k) Product Management and Development, Guardian Retirement Solutions™. “These changes are forcing plan sponsors to rely on financial professionals to provide education and actionable solutions for compliance challenges. Many plan sponsors lack the experience, time and resources to effectively manage these plans to help participants achieve successful retirement outcomes.”
The Resource Optimizer™ includes a comprehensive Worksheet that determines the necessity of various services involved in the implementation of a retirement plan. The 15 question worksheet assesses a plan sponsor’s needs and allows clients to discover plan risks and understand costs.
Frain added, “Guardian Retirement Solutions™ and PRI developed The Resource Optimizer™ to give financial professionals the tools they need to better serve their clients in this increasingly complex and competitive market. Financial professionals can use this tool to educate their clients about the activities needed for the delivery of an optimal retirement plan. They can then align these needs with appropriate service provider and specialist support uniquely suited for their client’s plan and create the optimal mix of products and services to meet those needs.”
For non-fiduciary financial professionals, The Resource Optimizer™ is an innovative service tool that helps financial professionals focus their efforts on service and education, rather than on investment advice. With many broker-dealers not allowing their registered representatives (RRs) to act as fiduciaries, RRs will need to reconsider their approach to working with plan sponsor clients. Once the support needs are identified, financial professionals can work with GIAC and other service providers on creating an optimal mix of products and services to help address these needs.
For plan sponsors, The Resource Optimizer™ clarifies some of their fiduciary duties under ERISA and identifies the specific areas where they may require professional assistance. The comprehensive Worksheet and Results Map demonstrate a commitment to plan governance and participant engagement and helps simplify what’s required for maintaining a successful retirement plan.
“In light of the recent regulatory changes, we expect employers to devote more time to addressing retirement plan governance over the next two years,” said Jason C. Roberts, Esq. Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PRI and Managing Partner of Roberts Elliott, LLP, a law firm dedicated to servicing retirement plans and service providers. “Small plans often lack the required processes and/or internal expertise to demonstrate compliance with all aspects of fiduciary governance, and many are considering outsourcing investment-related responsibilities to professional investment managers. ERISA guidelines require plan sponsors to determine not only if plan fees are reasonable but if they are actually necessary given the needs of their specific plan and its participants. Many tools have emerged to determine price competitiveness, but The Resource Optimizer™ is the only tool, of which I am aware, designed to identify which services may be needed based upon a plan sponsor’s input.”
Using The Resource Optimizer™, the financial professional can work with the small business owner to assess the value and need of service provider support and understand the opportunity cost of leveraging a service provider or performing the function internally.
A mutual insurer founded in 1860, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and its subsidiaries are committed to protecting individuals, business owners and their employees with life insurance, disability income insurance, dental insurance products, and offer funding vehicles for 401(k) plans, annuities and other financial products. Guardian operates one of the largest dental networks in the United States, and protects more than six million employees and their families at 115,000 companies. The company has approximately 5,000 employees in the United States and a network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 80 agencies nationwide.
For more information about Guardian, please visit: www.GuardianLife.com.
Guardian Retirement Solutions™ refers to the administrative support services, including participant recordkeeping as well as marketing, enrollment and educational materials, provided by GIAC in conjunction with the individual and group retirement products issued by GIAC.