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Reimagining Retirement | Episode 6

On October 18, 2023, Bonnie Treichel, Chief Solutions Officer at Endeavor Retirement, hosted the 6th episode of Reimagining Retirement: Fees, Funds and Fiduciaries — Why They Still Matter.

The episode included three thought leaders in the retirement plan industry: Theresa Conti, QKA, APR, ERPA, CPFA, President at Sunwest PensionsBrandon C. Helms, CRPC®, RICP®, AIF®, QPFC®, Retirement Investment Consultant, DCIO at Columbia Threadneedle Investments; and Leah Sylvester, CPC, QKA®, QPA, Partner | Director at Retirement Plan Services at Shepherd Financial, LLC

In an era dominated by technology and personalization, the retirement plan landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace. Amidst the buzz surrounding plan design and participant engagement, a fundamental question emerges: Do the traditional cornerstones of retirement planning or, the “3F’s”, retain their significance? As we set out to Reimagine Retirement, Bonnie Treichel and industry expert panelists discussed a crucial theme in retirement: “Fees, Funds and Fiduciaries — Why They Still Matter!”

Understanding and Navigating Retirement Challenges:  

Theresa Conti noted fiduciary responsibility is the most critical of the 3F’s, yet many still don’t fully grasp their fiduciary duties. Fees rank second in importance of the 3F’s, and it’s surprising that some plan sponsors are still unaware of the plan’s fees and how they work. Funds may be last on this list of importance, but the panelists still discussed the importance of reviewing investments as well as selecting investments — separate and distinct from review of service providers.

Adding Practical Value:

Brandon Helms discussed the importance of advisors being compensated for implementing their knowledge, not just possessing it. The industry values the practical application of knowledge.

As an advisor herself, Leah Sylvester emphasized the role of advisors as fiduciaries, always acting in the best interests of the plan and participants. Advisors should engage in fair and open dialogues about fees, funds and fiduciaries, including the “adjacent services” that are coming to market. For example, it is not necessarily bad for an advisor to sell an adjacent service (or upsell to additional services) so long as it is clearly disclosed. Different clients have different needs, and it is important to bring to each client what their plan and participants will value.

Meeting Evolving Client Expectations: 

The panelists agreed that retirement plan management must align with individual client needs and expectations, making the “3F’s” more relevant than ever. In addition, continuous education and training for fiduciaries are critical, even on seemingly simple topics. A key reminder about clients and their evolving needs was also that we should not assume we know what our clients want, but we should keep an open dialogue.

Final Thoughts:

  1. Understanding client needs and wants is essential, guiding them through the process and letting the “3F’s” naturally fall into place.
  2. Realigning and refocusing on the basics are crucial to help both plan sponsors and advisors achieve their objectives. Fees, funds and fiduciaries will continue to be at the core of the retirement plan industry.
  3. Education and engagement are key elements to staying relevant and valuable to your clients.
  4. All of this is important to the pursuit of helping people meet their retirement goals!
This discussion underscores the evolving landscape of retirement plan management, emphasizing the need for continuous education, adapting to changing expectations, and ensuring that the “3F’s” — Fees, Funds and Fiduciaries — remain fundamental in securing a prosperous retirement. We look forward to catching you on for the next discussion to reimagine retirement.

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