Ins and Outs of Fiduciary Outsourcing for Credit Unions

By: Richard W. Rausser, Senior Vice President of Client Services, Pentegra Retirement Services

With retirement plans seemingly becoming ever more complicated, outsourcing of fiduciary investment responsibilities has steadily become more commonplace. This is especially true in the case of the C-Suite at credit unions, which can find outsourcing very appealing.

Not only is the passing along of fiduciary responsibilities one less burden for credit union managers, allowing them to focus on day-to-day business and obviating the need for them to become qualified plan experts, but the practice can also serve to insulate them and their credit union from a number of risks.

Benefits of Outsourcing

Outsourcing to a sanctioned third-party fiduciary guarantees that a given plan’s documentation is up to date, complies with all laws and regulations, and delivers appropriate disclosures to plan participants and sponsors.

If a plan is large enough (meaning it has roughly 100 to 120 participants) it requires an independent auditor – the selection of which again can be provided by the external fiduciary, saving the credit union time and money. (It should be noted that investment fiduciary outsourcing can be appropriate for defined benefit and defined contribution plans of all sizes.)

In addition, the day-to-day management of a plan involves, among other things, making sure the plan is running as it should be; nuts and bolts record-keeping; and administrative decisions about such issues as a plan participant’s request for a loan or a hardship distribution.

Customizing Responsibilities

Arranging the responsibilities of a third-party fiduciary should be fairly easy to customize; one can outsource all of the above or cherry-pick whichever duties one wishes on an ala carte basis.

A credit union needs to provide a reputable third-party fiduciary with the following:

  • Data on the plan participants;
  • The money involved with the plan; and
  • A commitment to regularly review the plan’s performance (usually once a year).

In that way, any questions or concerns can be addressed efficiently. (Of course, any issues that rise before the review date can also be discussed at any time.)

Fiduciary Responsibility

If there are record-keeping errors made by the outside fiduciary, it is that fiduciary’s responsibility to make amends, including making up any monetary shortfall. In the unlikely case of a participant-filed lawsuit, the outside fiduciary is again front and center, providing the defense in the case and making good on any claims or settlements.

The credit union’s board and senior management are insulated from responsibility; even though the plan ultimately belongs to the credit union, it is the named fiduciary who holds the liability in such instances.

Such an arrangement can also be of value in the case of multiple employer plans (MEPs), an employee benefit plan that can be maintained as a single plan in which two or more unrelated employers participate. As each credit union has its own separate boards of directors, the advantages of having an independent fiduciary to manage and administrate the plan are readily apparent.

Credit Union Responsibilities

All of that said, there will remain some fiduciary responsibilities and liabilities for the fiduciary responsible for selecting and contracting with the outsourced fiduciary. Breach of contract is the most obvious of these, but there is also the matter of monitoring/reviewing with the outside fiduciary that I mentioned previously.

In addition – and this should go without saying – it is incumbent upon the relevant credit union executive to read all communiques from the third-party fiduciary, and to ask and follow through on any questions or concerns.

None of these duties should be particularly onerous, especially if you have chosen a reputable external fiduciary. When considering such a company – as you should with all outside vendors – “test drive the car”: Find out all you can about several different ones, ask lots of questions, and make as informed a final decision as possible.

Learn more from Rich by watching the recorded webinar: “Innovative Retirement Plan Design for Maximum Results.”

About Rich Rausser:
Richard W. Rausser has over 25 years of experience in the retirement benefits field. He is Senior Vice President of Client Services at Pentegra Retirement Services, a leading provider of retirement planning services to financial institutions and organizations nationwide, founded by the Federal Home Loan Bank System in 1943. Rich oversees Pentegra’s consulting, marketing and communications and actuarial service groups at Pentegra. He is a frequent speaker on retirement benefit topics; a Certified Pension Consultant (CPC); a Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA); a Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA); and a member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA).

Pentegra_Logo_FinalPentegra is the NAFCU Preferred Partner for Qualified Retirement Plans for Credit Union Employees

Best of NAFCU’s 48th Annual Conference and Solutions Expo (Video and Educational Highlights)

Credit union leaders from around the country gathered to network and discuss the most pressing issues impacting the industry during NAFCU’s 48th Annual Conference and Solutions Expo in Montreal, Canada. The conference was NAFCU’s largest event in nearly a decade.

Here’s a quick video of some highlights from this year’s conference:


During the conference, attendees heard from NAFCU management and leading industry professionals that included keynote conference speakers such as TrendHunter.com Founder and CEO Jeremy Gutsche, and MasterCard’s General Counsel and Chief Franchise Officer Tim Murphy.

Solutions Expo at the NAFCU 48th Annual ConferenceThis year’s conference included the annual Solutions Expo, spotlighting the latest technologies, applications, and resources available to help improve credit union operations.

Our Preferred Partners exhibited during the conference and shared their thought leadership, innovations, and solutions during educational sessions throughout the conference.

The complete list of sessions and available presentation slides are available on www.nafcu-annual.org. Here’s a quick listing of key topics presented during the conference to help your credit union grow, retain members, manage risks, protect members, and improve overall operations:

Topic Category Presentation Title Preferred Partner
Growth & Retention Building A Strong Payments Strategy Vantiv
Health Savings Accounts, IRAs and Millennials: A New Generation Presents New Opportunities  Ascensus
Using Credit Scores to Grow and Engage Membership VantageScore
Why Your Credit Union Should Offer Wealth Management Services to All Members Money Concepts
Risk & Security A Deep Dive Into EMV Implementation MasterCard
Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation: Protect Your Member Data Knowledge Consulting Group (KCG)
Top Ten Fraud Risks That Impact Your Financial Institution Allied Solutions
Uncovering the Faces of Fraud Q2
Using Moneyball Tactics and Risk Rating Assessment Models Wolters Kluwer Financial Services
Financial & Insurance Trends in the Retirement Plan Industry Pentegra Retirement Services

Thanks again to the 2015 Annual Conference signature sponsor MasterCard, our 5-star preferred partner sponsors Allied Solutions and Vantiv, and all of our partner sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers.

We’re looking forward to seeing you all at NAFCU’s 49th Annual Conference and Solutions Expo in Nashville (Music City) next year! Get more information, sign-up for updates on the latest conference details, and register by visiting www.nafcu-annual.org.

10 Steps to Better Retirement Planning for the New Year

RICHARD W. RAUSSER, CPC
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CLIENT SERVICES

Rich RRich Rausserausser is a Certified Pension Consultant (CPC), a Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA), a Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA), and a member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA). He holds an M.B.A. in Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a B.A. in Economics and Business Administration from Ursinus College. 

Pentegra Retirement Services is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Qualified Retirement Plans for Credit Union Employees. http://www.nafcu.org/pentegra/

The start of every New Year brings the promise of new beginnings; a time to think about setting goals and resolving to do new things, particularly when it comes to finances.

It is important to take a few minutes this month to think about the state of your retirement portfolio and to commit to an annual self-assessment.  This should be more than ‘I will spend less’ in 2015. One of your resolutions should be to find better ways to manage your finances and invest your money.

I encourage everyone to jump-start their efforts with this checklist:

1. Increase Plan Contributions:  Are you contributing as much as you can afford to your retirement plan? The more money you put into your plan now, the bigger your potential retirement nest egg. Adding as little as five or ten extra dollars per paycheck could make a big difference over the long term.

2. Make Catch-up Contributions: Your plan may allow you to make “catch-up” contributions over and above the regular contribution limit if you are age 50 or older. If possible, take advantage of the opportunity to give your retirement savings a boost.

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Preferred Partners to Shine at the 47th Annual Conference in Las Vegas

Join the more than 1,200 credit union leaders, experts, and solution providers gathering next week at NAFCU’s 47th Annual Conference and Solutions Expo to discuss the most pressing issues impacting the industry. A wealth of education, innovation, and networking opportunities will energize you and your team and positively impact your operations and bottom line.

Be sure to schedule an hour on Wednesday afternoon to hear John Ulzheimer’s thoughts on Credit Scoring: Separating Myth from Reality. John, a nationally recognized credit expert, always gives fascinating insights on the credit union universe. This session, presented by VantageScore Solutions, is scheduled at 1:00 pm and repeats at 2:15 pm.

Many of our Preferred Partners will also be in Las Vegas to meet you and to share their innovations and solutions at 16 educational sessions outlined below. Note that many sessions will be repeated this year so you don’t have to choose. Download a schedule at a glance with times and room locations.

It’s not too late to join your colleagues in Vegas. Register for the convention here.

National Financial Literacy Month is an Opportunity for Credit Unions

Originally posted on CUInsight.

By Randy Salser, President, NAFCU Services

With the financial pitfalls of the Great Recession behind us, and security breaches becoming a common threat, members are more mindful of their personal finances than ever before.  Because credit unions are a reliable and trusted source, they have the unique opportunity to educate their members about financial literacy. For expertise on where credit unions should focus this National Financial Literacy Month, we turn to our Preferred Partners:

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