Best Practices and Deliverables to the Client
Since the passage of the Department of Labor's service provider fee disclosure regulations, there is a definite specificity of services that must be outlined in an advisor's service agreement. This is the major reason why the advisor service model has changed. Not only does the advisor's compensation need to be detailed, but the services offered must be clearly articulated. This presents an excellent market- ing opportunity for our advisor partners to demonstrate their value proposition and grow their business. It also represents a defensive opportunity to ensure existing business is secure and fortified. APG can assist our advisor partners with designing the right service model. Our extensive experience comes from providing Plan Spon- sor support when the DOL audits our clients. We see first-hand the service model deliverable that is expected and ultimately held as a standard for advisors. These regulatory standards are then converted into best practices.
The advisor deliverables would typically be segmented into three key areas as a best practice service model. The composition from a broad base may be fiduciary governance, investment monitoring and employee education. Each category should be clearly defined with such specifications as: the number of meetings expected throughout the year; who is responsible for documentation and minutes; content deliverables such as an Investment Policy Statement, Education Policy Statement, frequency of analytical investment reports, and education sessions.
With these various moving parts and important pieces that comprise the service puzzle, it is often helpful and recommended as a best practice to create a service calendar. This allows the advisor to plan at the beginning of the year all of the necessary logistical issues such as meeting dates, and service deliverables through- out the year. The service calendar gives the fiduciaries and Plan Sponsor the ability to visually understand how all the moving parts fit and the responsible parties to accomplish the tasks. This working document sets clear expectations, objectives and deliverables, so there are no misunderstandings. It additionally demonstrates the extensive services the advisor is accomplishing as a true value-add. Lastly, the service calendar is a concise document that demonstrates to the DOL a compre- hensive and systematic process with regard to monitoring key areas and meeting these fiduciary responsibilities. APG has created a fiduciary service calendar for our advisor partners to make this process as efficient as possible and to achieve successful outcomes!