While paying unreasonable plan expenses is a breach of fiduciary duty, picking providers solely or mainly because they are low in fees can also breach the fiduciary duty. Retirement plan sponsors also have a duty of prudence as a one of their fiduciary duties. Prudence is about the process for making fiduciary decisions. Prudence requires the plan fiduciaries to document decisions and the basis for those decisions. Since most plan sponsors don’t have the background to administer their retirement plan and make investments on their own, they need to hire the expert plan providers that can. So in hiring any plan provider, a fiduciary should survey a number of potential providers. By doing so, a fiduciary can document the process and make a meaningful comparison and selection. The duty of prudence requires the selection of competent plan providers and selecting an incompetent provider is a certain breach of that duty. So a plan provider needs to select competent plan providers that charge reasonable expenses.
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