Innovative Investment Fiduciaries Receives CEFEX Certification for 3rd Consecutive Year

Category: Retirement Plans

Innovative Investment Fiduciaries Receives CEFEX Certification for 3rd Consecutive Year

Posted On: November 1, 2021 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Over the years, we have worked hard to earn a trusted reputation, which is why we are honored to announce our certification renewal with CEFEX, the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence, LLC, for the third consecutive year. CEFEX is an independent global assessment and certification organization. Its mission is to promote and verify excellence by assessing and certifying conformity to high professional standards of conduct. Our annual CEFEX certification renewal involves a comprehensive audit of our business and fiduciary practices by an independent third party.  During this three-month audit, CEFEX reviews all our internal and external practices including proper client documentation, thorough reporting, and substantial due diligence to support all business decisions. The certification means that we understand the importance of having a documented investment process, thereby helping promote our client’s confidence that their retirement plans are being prudently organized, formalized, implemented, and monitored. We believe that our CEFEX certification demonstrates…


Benefits of a CEFEX Certified Advisor

Posted On: July 8, 2021 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Benefits of a CEFEX Certified Advisor A CEFEX (Centre for Fiduciary Excellence) certified advisory firm adheres to a standard representing the best practices in their industry. They abide by a global fiduciary standard of excellence with specific criteria covering 21 best practices. In fact, the documented repeatable processes and the evidence-based decision-making that CEFEX demands are more likely to generate higher investment returns over time. Additionally, because the firm voluntarily agrees to a rigorous annual audit, investors can rest assured that their advisor continues to work to the highest professional standards.  This independent verification is even more critical for trustees and investment committee members of retirement plans who are legally required to conduct regular due diligence on their service providers, which CEFEX certified firms complete at no expense to the plan. So, Why Work with a CEFEX Certified Advisor? As an investor, you want peace of mind. You need to…


Discover How We Helped One Client Reduce Their Retirement Plan Fees by 30%

Posted On: May 18, 2021 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Discover How We Helped One Client Reduce Their Retirement Plan Fees by 30% When offering your plan directly with a qualified plan provider, many employers are not aware of what they might be missing. As a result, we often find that many Plan Sponsors are paying more and receiving less. Innovative’s experience allows us to assist and educate our clients on the most effective ways to negotiate better fees and receive additional services. We have found that: Many plans are often overpriced – we have been able to reduce fees in some cases by 50%. Additional services at no charge – we’ve been able to add more services, such as -hardship distribution services, QDRO services, and Annual Required Notice Distribution Services (SAR, QDIA, 404(a)(5)). Administration and recordkeeping savings- we are also able to free up funds to add advisory services, proving further fiduciary protections for plan sponsors and resources for…


5 Steps to Create a Financial Wellness Program

Posted On: May 5, 2021 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

5 Steps to Create a Financial Wellness Program Many employers offer health wellness programs for their organization. However, financial wellness is equally as important. Studies show that 47% of employees are stressed about their finances, which can impact their productivity in the workplace. While starting a financial wellness program may seem intimidating, here are five steps that you can take to create a successful financial wellness program: Step One: Discovery Period Understand your organization's goals and objectives for the program. Review the plans demographics and survey your employees to identify concerns and engage the financial literacy. Step Two: Analyze Review the information from your discovery to understand where changes might need to be made. Review resources available to the plan that can be utilized by employees and prioritize the goals by importance. Step Three: Design Your Program Once you understand the data and resources you have available, it's time to…


Environmental, Social and Governmental (ESG) Fund Best Practices for Plan Sponsors

Posted On: April 8, 2021 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Environmental, Social and Governmental (ESG) Fund Best Practices for Plan Sponsors Socially responsible investing has grown in popularity as investors become more aware of how organizations operate from an environmental, social and governance perspective. Environmental factors may include a company’s carbon output, overall resource consumption and impact to air and water quality. Social factors include the types of business relationships the company maintains and how the organization treats people overall. Structural or governance factors include the level of transparency, conflicts of interest and Board composition. As a result, plan sponsors are considering Environmental, Social and Governmental (ESG) fund options as employee’s interest in ensuring their money has a positive impact on society continues to grow. Rules Surrounding ESG Funds: In December of 2020, the DOL released a rule for plan sponsors when considering Environmental, Social and Governmental (ESG) focused investments as options in their retirement plans. The rule required that…


2021 Plan Sponsor Considerations

Posted On: January 11, 2021 | Categorized as: Company News, Retirement Plans

The events of 2020 created many new considerations for plan sponsors as individuals were faced with uncertainty and sought safety both financially and personally. The CARES Act was passed to assist individuals and businesses impacted by the pandemic, and investors witnessed a volatile investment market causing many to adjust their investment strategy. Plan sponsors should consider how regulatory changes and investor behavior impacted their retirement plans. Below are 3 important retirement plan considerations for plan sponsors to review in the first quarter of 2021: Non-Discrimination Testing (NDT) Impacts As employee populations were impacted by the pandemic, it is important to understand how any changes in plan participation will affect your Non-Discrimination Testing. Employment uncertainty and market volatility caused many participants to lower or stop their 401(k) contributions. In addition, there were reductions in force, including layoffs and furloughs, which need to be reviewed for potential partial termination issues and whether…


IRS Announces 2021 Plan Limitations

Posted On: November 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Retirement Plans

IRS Announces 2021 Plan Limitations The IRS has recently announced the qualified plan limitations for 2021, which are determined based on annual increases in the cost of living index. Because there was only a modest increase in the index, most of the plan limits have not changed from 2020. For your convenience we have included a downloadable compliance bulletin, detailing the current and new plan limitations: 401k Deferral Limit remained the same: $19,500 The maximum amount that can be contributed by and for a participant to a defined contribution plan - Increased to $58,000 The maximum amount of compensation taken into account for plan purposes - Increased to $290,000 The catch-up contribution for participants who have attained age 50 remained the same: $6,500 The compensation-based definition of highly compensated employee remained the same: $130,000 The maximum annual benefit payable from a defined benefit plan remained the same: $230,000 The definition…


How Working With a Qualified Plan Advisor Can Improve Your Audit Experience

Posted On: November 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

How Working With a Qualified Plan Advisor Can Improve Your Audit Experience Hiring a quality qualified plan advisor provides many advantages to employers that sponsor a retirement plan. Specifically, one of those advantages is improving your annual qualified plan audit. As each audit season begins, employers often dread having to coordinate with their accounting firm while juggling their day-to-day tasks. The good news is, we have outlined three ways your qualified plan advisor can improve this administrative burden. Quick Access to Information Audits by nature involve many questions and requests for data. In some cases, the information in question is not regularly requested, making it difficult for employers to find. Advisors on the other hand have knowledge of the plan and recordkeeping systems to access certain information quickly, saving valuable time for everyone. Relationship with the Auditor Many advisors develop relationships with various auditing firms. By doing so, the advisor…


Dust Off That Old Policy: Why Now is a Good Time to Review Your Life Insurance Policies

Posted On: October 8, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Dust Off That Old Policy: Why Now is a Good Time to Review Your Life Insurance Policies As a result of the COVID-19 National Emergency, insurance companies have modified their underwriting requirements to help individuals secure additional life insurance protection. Through new “relaxed” underwriting guidelines, insurers are offering coverage without an exam that requires a nurse to visit your home or office. These relaxed guidelines offer a convenient way to increase insurance amounts, with death benefits up to $3,000,000 available for most age groups.  Due to these relaxed guidelines, now is a good time for employers and individuals to review their existing in force policies for key person, buy/sell or estate planning purposes. Innovative recommends the following when reviewing your life insurance programs: Term Insurance Understand your conversion options, particularly the date at which the conversion period ends. Does the period end at a specific age, a specific number of…


Participant Risk Assessment

Posted On: September 28, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Participant Risk Assessment As we work our way through a market recovery and closer to what could be a greater period of uncertainty around the upcoming election, now may be a good time for participants to review the equity risk associated with their retirement account and understand if their current investments are properly aligned with their objectives or if adjustments are necessary. The first step would be to review their investor profile/strategy, then assess if their current investments are properly aligned with their objectives, and last decide if adjustments are necessary. The retirement team here at Innovative is here to help our client’s employees with this review process by completing our simple asset allocation questionnaire. Once completed, we will review their current plan investments and discuss potential changes in their allocation. To review your options or if you feel this service would be beneficial to your employees, please feel free…


What Steps Can Plan Sponsors and Retirement Plan Committee Members Take to Protect Themselves?

Posted On: August 25, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

What Steps Can Plan Sponsors and Retirement Plan Committee Members Take to Protect Themselves? When managing a qualified retirement plan, there are certain duties the plan sponsor and committee members have to the plan and participants as named fiduciaries. These duties create liability for the plan sponsor and committee members for decisions made regarding the plan. In recent years, retirement plan lawsuits relating to fees have become more prevalent. Additionally, these suits are beginning to impact smaller plans, such as the Greystar 401(k) plan in 2019 which had less than $250,000,000 in assets. How can plan sponsors and committee members ensure that they are taking all the necessary steps to protect themselves? Develop Well Documented and Structured Processes to Monitor Investments Investment selection goes beyond lowest cost or best performing investment. Instead, a holistic review of the fund’s fees, performance and other metrics leads to better investment options for the…


Put Your Advisor to the Test

Posted On: July 27, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Put Your Advisor to the Test Ask these critical questions to test the knowledge of future plan advisors. A knowledgeable plan advisor is an important component in the successful operation of your qualified plan. However, selecting the right candidate requires more than simply reviewing typical Request for Proposal (RFP) responses. RFPs are an important part of the process, but boilerplate questions may draw generalized, high-level responses that reveal few details about a potential advisors’ knowledge. You should make sure the potential advisor possesses broad industry experience and expertise that applies to your unique situation. It only takes a few questions to put them to the test. So, as you consider prospective plan advisors, here are some non-boilerplate questions that you can ask to assess their knowledge. Under what scenario would my plan need a BRF test? Sometimes, plan designs create different benefits for different classes of participants. The BRF (Benefits,…


COVID-19 Impact on Retirement Plan Discrimination Testing

Posted On: May 20, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

retirement plan binder with glasses

COVID-19 Impact on Retirement Plan Discrimination Testing As a result of COVID-19, many employers have made financial, operational, and employment-related changes. Plan sponsors need to consider how the following actions may impact the results of their 2020 retirement plan discrimination testing: Changing or Discontinuing the employer 401K match Retirement plan design changes Furloughing, laying off, or termination of employees Employee deferral changes, including the discontinuation of deferrals If your organization has taken any of these actions or notice a change in participant behavior, we suggest you take a proactive approach to understand the impact on your non-discrimination testing. It is important to get a better understanding NOW of how any of these changes may negatively impact your retirement plan as corrective actions may be available prior to your plan year end. If would like a complimentary Retirement Plan Impact Analysis, please click here.  


Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application

Posted On: May 19, 2020 | Categorized as: HR Consulting, Retirement Plans

paycheck protection program loan application

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application On Friday, May 15th the SBA has released their forgiveness application with detailed instructions on how to complete the form.   While the release promised further guidance on loan forgiveness, Innovative has received a lot of questions surrounding the calculation of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Employees and payroll costs that employers must report on their application. A few highlights relating to these questions are summarized below: Payroll Cost Calculation The application advised there are options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternate payroll covered period” that aligns with a borrower’s regular payroll. cycle. Employers will not have to change payroll dates to obtain maximum forgiveness. There is flexibility for employers to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight week period after receiving their PPP loan. FTE Employee Calculation The Loan Forgiveness Application made clear that FTE employees are…


4 Tips for a Volatile Market

Posted On: April 29, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

The COVID-19 National Emergency has impacted nearly every part of our daily lives and the investment market is no exception. When account balances fluctuate, it is tempting to make quick investment decisions. Before you do, consider a few investing tips to guide your investments through volatile markets. Remain Calm Many investors will hear bad news about the stock market performance and get nervous. Their instinct might be to sell stocks and move to bonds or cash, essentially trying to time the market to avoid losses. A word of caution: trying to time the market is very challenging in that you have to be right twice – when to get out (before the drop, which you likely missed) and when to get back in. Trying to time the market can cause investors to miss the highest- performing days, which can have a significant impact on growth. You should focus on your…


CARES Act: Impact on your Retirement Plans

Posted On: April 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Retirement Plans

CARES Act: Impact on your Retirement Plans The CARES Act is the stimulus package the government recently enacted to support the country and economy during and after the coronavirus pandemic. The 880-page Act has many programs and features that affect a wide range of the economy. The points below are some of the highlights and potentially overlooked aspects of how the Act deals with retirement plans. One item to note at the beginning, is that adding these programs or features will require a plan amendment. The deadline for creating this amendment is not until 2022 as the government does not want paperwork slowing down these changes. For more information on all aspects of the CARES Act or any bills we are watching, please consult Innovative Benefit Planning. This is an evolving situation that we will continue to closing monitoring and keep you updated as events happen. Coronavirus Related Distribution (CRD)…


Student Loan Relief Due to COVID-19

Posted On: April 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Retirement Plans

Overview On March 13, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would waive interest charges, allow for suspended payments and provide assistance to borrowers of defaulted loans for 6 months. All information can be found at StudentAid.gov. Who Is Affected? All borrowers who have an outstanding federal student loan, including defaulted and non-defaulted Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loans and defaulted and non-defaulted Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) owned by the U.S. Department of Education can receive relief. What Type of Relief is Available? Interest Waiver All interest charges on loans are automatically waived starting on March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2020 (relief period). The U.S. Department of Education could extend this period depending on the status of the COVID-19 national emergency. Administrative Forbearance Monthly payments on all applicable loans will be automatically suspended from March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2020. Any automatic payments processed in the…


Market Performance: Tips for Addressing Employee Concerns and Prudent Plan Management

Posted On: March 31, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and recent market volatility have undoubtedly presented you with new challenges as you care for your employees, families and community. We encourage you to lean on Innovative Investment Fiduciaries as a source for stability during these times. Below is our recent plan sponsor brief with some best practices for addressing the current market situation. This piece includes information on how to handle employee concerns and plan provisions to consider for review. Download PDF here To review your options, feel free to contact Innovative Investment Fiduciaries. We have extensive experience guiding plan sponsors through these decisions. As a CEFEX certified advisor, our fiduciary processes have been vetted and confirmed as following the best industry practices.


Ways Employers Can Deal With Employee Student Loan Debt

Posted On: February 25, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits, Retirement Plans

Ways Employers Can Deal With Employee Student Loan Debt February 25th, 2020 Student debt has increased dramatically in recent years, creating a financial burden on employees’ ability to save for retirement. Many employers have begun implementing programs to help employees manage student loan debt. Millennials (and their families) are often burdened with significant student loan debt. More than 70 million millennials make up 50% of today’s workforce, and that number is growing. Also, many older workers in the “sandwich generation” are saving for their children’s college. Both of these scenarios provide opportunities for employers to design programs that help employees reduce their financial stress (which often affects productivity), as well as make the company more attractive to talented candidates. To review your options, feel free to contact Innovative Benefit Planning. We have extensive experience guiding clients through these decisions, and would be more than happy to help.


Myth Series #12: I can’t offer a student loan program in my retirement plan.

Posted On: December 19, 2019 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

With student loan debt reaching astronomical numbers, employers are increasingly looking for ways to add student loan assistance programs to their benefits packages. While current student loan repayment programs can relieve financial stress, they do not offer tax benefits to employees. However, a recent IRS Private Letter Ruling allowing a major pharmaceutical company to add loan repayment benefits to its 401(k) plan has sparked interest in this approach. See how you may be able to design a solution that aligns with the IRS ruling here. Adding student loan repayment to a qualified plan is not the right solution for everyone. If you are considering this enhancement, contact Innovative to discuss your specific situation and objectives.


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