Should Your Company Hire an ERISA 3(38) Investment Manager for The 401(k) Plan?

The 401(k) plan has attracted substantial attention, some wanted, some unwanted, in an effort to improve the quality of retirement plans for American workers. New regulations are being added or considered every day. For instance the new 408(b)2 fee disclosure regulations become effective later this year. These regulations are expected to change the ways plans are sold and by whom. These regulations are a real game changer.

Rewarding Eco-Friendly Farmers Can Help Combat...Because of these changes and the increased acknowledgement of fiduciary risks for plan sponsors, many sponsors are considering hiring an ERISA 3(38) Investment manager. By hiring this manager plan sponsors transfer the fiduciary responsibilities and risks to the investment manager.

The ERISA 3(38) Investment manager will follow the fiduciary process by:

  1. Developing an Investment Policy Statement (IPS)
  2. Select and Monitor Investment Options
  3. Offer Investment Education

The ERISA 3(38) Investment Manager will minimize their fiduciary liability by choosing index or structured funds.

Who can serve as an ERISA 3(38) Investment Manager?

  1. A bank
  2. An Insurance company
  3. A Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) subject ot the Investment Advisors Act of 1940.

Special note: stock brokers and broker-dealers can never be a 3(38).

Although the plan sponsor (employer) transfers all investment fiduciary risks and responsibilities to the ERISA 3(38) Investment Manager the plan sponsor must monitor the manager. This fiduciary responsibility cannot be delegated away. This entails meeting with the investment manager at least annually and review the process.

Is this for all plan sponsors?

No, however this fits well for small to mid-sized businesses who are too busy running their company to manage a retirement plan. When it fits it works very well. Not only will the plan sponsor outsource a very vital task, the plan participants will benefit from a prudently managed retirement. Ultimately, the goal is a successful retirement for the plan participants including the business owner.

  • 401k Sponsors Increasing Focus on Investments (
  • Retirement Plan Sponsors’ 401(k) Perceptions vs. Reality (
  • What ‘Fee Disclosure’ Rules Really Mean for Plan Sponsors (
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