Designing and managing retirement plans is a complicated task. Plan fiduciaries – including owners, controllers, CFOs, and human resources managers – often lack the time and staff to fully maximize their plan as a benefit for participants. From large corporate retirement plans to small company SEP IRAs, the analyses, tasks, and decisions require expertise and commitment.
More than ever before, fiduciaries are choosing to outsource various tasks and responsibilities to competent professionals. At Cypress, we believe that the key to helping fiduciaries remain in compliance with complex rules and regulations while also maximizing this employee benefit is to maintain a disciplined, process driven approach. Cypress has designed comprehensive offering that reflects emerging industry standards and guides plan sponsors day-to-day.
Our process starts by gathering and organizing all applicable legal and regulatory requirements that the client should understand and abide by. Retirement plans come in different forms so we help each client determine and interpret nuanced requirements depending on plan attributes such as selected safe harbors.
The next step is to develop a formal process. Our team partners with the plan sponsor to develop an investment policy, defining key metrics for selecting, analyzing, and monitoring investment options. Additionally, we craft a strategy for providing participant education and develop formal checks and balances. Formalization is critical as it provides not only a basis for current decision making, but also a roadmap for future oversight and improvement efforts.
Once a broad plan and Investment Policy Statement are in place, the advisor guides plan fiduciaries through actionable steps. Our guidance to plan decision-makers is always based on deep analysis we seek to ensure fiduciaries understand the alternatives available. The team is involved in day-to-day operations as needed, interfacing with plan fiduciaries and participants alike. Additionally, our advisors take responsibility for leading the broader strategic discussion when asked. We prefer to serve as a plan’s quarterback and coordinate actions with other plan vendors such as administrators and recordkeepers. Cypress advisors provide ongoing investment education and support to plan participants. Overall, we do our best to help our co-fiduciaries act in accordance with plan documents and investment policies and provide external accountability. As a fiduciary, it’s our role to advise our clients with the sole interest of the participants and beneficiaries.
Helping plan fiduciaries monitor the investment funds in accordance with the investment policy is one of our greatest responsibilities. The process followed ensures that plan investments remain within allowable asset classes and that each investment fund in the plan continues to meet predetermined metrics. Additionally, we benchmark plan investments against generally acceptable indexes. Our role includes monitoring non-investment aspects of plan administration. Our advisors stay abreast of the changing laws and regulations and help fiduciaries prepare for and remain compliant with applicable requirements. Our team continually studies industry offerings and emerging platform opportunities to highlight the benefits of lower cost options, technology or other features that improve the ability of plan participants to achieve their retirement goals. Our role as co-fiduciary is to remain vigilant and help plan sponsors achieve continuous improvement to maximize participant and beneficiary outcomes over the long-term.