Fiduciary Standards

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Retirement Plan Administrator: Scope and Conduct

Developed for ERISA plan sponsors by the Investment Fiduciary Leadership Council (“IFLC”), this Standard describes specific actions, substantiated by fiduciary practices embodied in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), as they relate to the duties of the “responsible plan fiduciary.”

The Standard emphasizes the importance of performing the steps needed to prudently manage a retirement plan qualified under ERISA. Specifically, it provides a tangible framework of activities for managing ERISA plans.

ERISA Section 3(16) introduces a responsible party called the Plan Administrator. Not to be confused with a Third Party Administrator, which provides ministerial services to ERISA plans, the Plan Administrator is an individual or entity that agrees to take responsibility for all of the operations of an ERISA planwhich is the plan’s sponsor or an independent firm.

The Standard defines steps which are intended to guide Plan Administrators in the execution of the four major fiduciary disciplines; Governance, Administration, Investments, and Controls.

The Technical Committee that developed the Standard constructed rules for each of the four disciplines. Published in the form of Objectives and Steps, the rules identify the actions needed to demonstrate a prudent fiduciary management system and include 72 specific actions.

  • Governance – 15 standard actions,
  • Administration – 30 standard actions
  • Investments – 12 standard actions, and
  • Controls – 15 standard actions.

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(These) practical guidelines should be required reading for all endowment fiduciaries.

Mark A. Pacella, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

ERISA plan sponsors may order the handbook

Fiduciary Standard for Endowments and Foundations

Stewardship Excellence Guidelines for Endowments and Foundations (the “Fiduciary Standard”), is the first-ever complete published standard of fiduciary conduct for endowments and foundations, as regulated by the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) and the Uniform Prudent Investor Act (UPIA).

The Fiduciary Standard provides objectives and steps to help Primary Fiduciaries understand their responsibilities and excel in their role. The book includes guidelines for foundation and endowment fiduciaries on how to:

  • fulfill their role as a steward of other people’s investments,
  • minimize risk associated with their legal fiduciary duty, and
  • maximize value for stakeholders, thereby increasing the profile of their organization and benefiting overall fundraising efforts.

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