Hicks Legal

Tom Hicks, Attorney at Law, will now be providing Fiduciary and Compliance review services. These
services include the new 408(b)(2) disclosure rulings beginning on July 1st, 2012 and 404(a)(5) participant disclosure rulings beginning on September 1st, 2012.


Fiduciary and Compliance Review Services

Why are Retirement Plan Fiduciaries turning to Independent Fiduciary Advisers?

  • ERISA imposes high standards upon fiduciaries. The courts refer to those duties as “the highest Known to law”. Retirement Plan fiduciaries may be personally liable if they know, or should have known, of a breach by another fiduciary. Pleading ignorance or inexperience will not be an adequate legal defense. Complying with the broadly expanded 408(b)(2) Regulations is a daunting task. ERISA encourages plan sponsors to hire “Prudent Experts”.

To comply with the new 408(b)(2) regulation, a responsible plan fiduciary will develop procedures that will demonstrate that its arrangements with third-party service providers are reasonable. Documenting the process by which the required information is solicited, reviewed, and evaluated is the most effective means to achieve compliance. We provide individual consultation with a California Attorney to protect fiduciaries from this liability. We will meet with you to:

1. Identify an individual or committee that will be responsible for identifying covered service providers and soliciting and evaluating the required disclosures. The disclosures must be received “reasonably in advance” of the date the service provider contract or arrangement is entered into, extended, or renewed.
2. Implement a written policy or procedure to identify the duties of the responsible individual or committee, the required elements of disclosure (which differ depending on the type of covered service provider), and the process to be followed if the required disclosures are not provided, in whole or in part.
3. Document the responsible individual’s or committee’s review of the information disclosed and the report of its findings to the fiduciary with ultimate responsibility for entering into the service provider contract or arrangement. Document the process by which such fiduciary decision-making is made.
4. Provide “bench marking” services to allow the responsible plan fiduciary to evaluate and compare the service provider’s aggregate compensation with other comparable service providers and industry standards, and to otherwise assist in supporting the process by which the fiduciary determines and documents that a service provider’s compensation is reasonable.

Procedural due diligence is especially important in evaluating the performance of investment options offered under a 401(K) or 403(b) plan where participants can direct the investment of their own accounts. Direct and indirect fees and other charges affect the value of participants’ accounts, and the documentation of procedural diligence can provide an effective defense in the event of litigation claiming that the plan fiduciary has violated its duty to monitor fees and expenses.

For the Retirement Plan Sponsor concerned about meeting their fiduciary responsibilities, expertise matters. My more than 25 years of pension and legal experience will provide your company the best benefit value for the cost.

Legal Fees: $325 an hour/ 3 hour minimum.
Clerical: $90 an hour

If you or your company is looking for an objective resource, I would enjoy hearing from you.