Retirement Plan Services for Businesses

Questions To Ask an Advisor

We want you to feel confident and secure in every aspect of your retirement plan, especially when it comes to your relationship with us. As your advisory team, it is our fiduciary duty to serve only your best interests, so we prepared a list of questions for your path to finding the right partner for your plan.

What You Can Expect From Us

  1. What does it mean when I'm asked about my fiduciary responsibility in relation to my plan? Are you able to relieve me of this burden?
  2. As a Registered Investment Advisor, DCM is able to serve at the highest level of legal fiduciary liability. As such, we are able to serve in a capacity referred to a 3(38) Discretionary Asset Manager. This role alleviates the Plan Sponsor of their liability as it pertains to choosing investment options for the plan lineup. Only 24% of the industry is currently serviced in this capacity.

  3. As a small business owner, can you help me make sure I am setting up my plan correctly? I want to ensure I am getting the maximum benefits for me and my employees.
  4. Yes. We run hypothetical plan design projections which show various options that allow the business owner to maximize benefits for themselves and their employees, as well as present the costs involved. In order to provide these projections, we need to gather recent plan statements and census information.

  5. Do you provide a governing document for the plan that clearly explains what investments a plan can and cannot own?
  6. Yes. The governing document for any retirement plan is known as the Investment Policy Statement (IPS). DCM prepares an IPS for all retirement plan clients. This document exists as a road map for the plan, provides a due diligence process, and helps us provide the best possible investment options to our participants.

  7. As an advisor, how do you build an investment fund menu? What factors do you consider?
  8. Most plans are not managed by investment advisors, like DCM. Most that are, simply rely on a variety of annuity, insurance, or high fee investment products. DCM serves as a discretionary asset manager and we follow a rigorous investment due diligence protocol to seek high-quality investment options, while keeping costs low. We are also able to offer our exclusive, actively managed equity strategy as one of the core investment options. This is a true differentiating factor, when compared to most investment fund menus.

  9. How do you report investment performance?
  10. The recordkeeper system is able to provide investment performance via regular statements. The website also provides a real-time update of individual performance. As a part of our routine fiduciary obligation to our plan sponsors, we have annual meetings whereby we review plan performance relative to industry benchmarks.

  11. Do you provide an annual update on plan goals and metrics?
  12. An annual plan health report is provided to the plan sponsors during the annual review meeting. This report reviews participant deferrals, participation rates, the average number of investment options utilized, participant age by investment, among other metrics. This gives the plan sponsor a high-level overview of how the plan is functioning.

  13. How often do you meet with me and my employees?
  14. In the beginning, we are very hands on during the conversion process to ensure all plan participants are well-informed and educated as to the plan dynamics. We perform group enrollment meetings and offer one-on-one consultations. As we progress in our relationship, we provide Year End Reviews and present features available to plan participants. We also work hard to incorporate Financial Wellness educational curriculum that could be delivered via email, webinar, or in annual group sessions, as needed.

    In addition, it is our responsibility as the Plan Advisor, and your responsibility as the Plan Sponsor, to ensure we are meeting annually to review the plan metrics relative to an industry benchmark. We produce and present these reports to help you meet your Fiduciary obligations.

  15. Do you provide investment guidance to participants? What about plan sponsors?
  16. DCM provides investment guidance to all participants and plan sponsors. The role of our advisors is to educate and explain the investment options in order to help the participants make informed decisions that will best meet their needs.

  17. Can you help encourage my employees to save for their own future? Do you offer any type of financial wellness?
  18. Education is key to encouraging employees to be in involved in your retirement plan. Often, the biggest hurdle for employees is the lack of understanding and education revolving around retirement and employer sponsored retirement plans, such as a 401(k). DCM helps close this gap by offering one-on-one employee education, group seminars for all participants, and provides a dedicated phone number and email to our investment advisor team to answer investment-related questions.

  19. With your retirement plan program, do sponsors or participants have access to educational materials and tools on an ongoing basis?
  20. Yes, all participants and plan sponsors have online access to DCM University which contains handpicked educational resources with tips on budgeting, saving, other financial topics. Additionally, the recordkeeping system is equipped with a resource library and numerous financial calculators to help participants with planning and learning. These resources are available with every individual's login to their account.

  21. Do you provide a quick and easy phone number or email for plan participants?
  22. Yes, DCM Retirement Plan Services has a phone number and email for participants to quickly speak with one of our RPS advisors on investment-related matters.

  23. What documents are needed to being the first steps in reviewing my current plan with DCM?
  24. The first steps in making a change, or evaluating your current plan, is to gather your current plan level statement, 408(b)2 fee disclosure, and signed adoption agreement. From here, we will host a welcome call and lay out a timeline for evaluating your current plan and the conversion process.

  25. What is the typical timeline for the plan conversion process? Will this require a vast amount of work for me?
  26. Given 401(k) plans are highly regulated, the conversion process is thorough, but very achievable with the right partners. DCM works hard with you to ensure the transition goes as smooth as possible. The typical timeline is around 60 to 90 days and will require data gathering on behalf of the plan sponsor.

  27. Will I be assigned a dedicated relationship manager for all plan-related questions?
  28. Once on-boarded to DCM's Retirement Plan Services division, you will be paired with a Retirement Plan Advisor from DCM along with a dedicated relationship manager with the record-keeper. These two individuals will serve as your contacts for everything plan related.

  29. Which professional credentials do you have, and what are their requirements?
  30. Within DCM's Retirement Plan Services division, our team has the following professional credentials:

    1. Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) – A course of study designed to acquire a thorough knowledge of fiduciary responsibility and become an invaluable resource to investment fiduciaries. An AIF® designation represents the person’s knowledge of a Global Fiduciary Standard of Excellence and their application of the global standard into their own practice. AIF® designees are there to work alongside you to ensure that the fiduciary standard of care is being applied systematically in your organization.

    2. Chartered Retirement Plan SpecialistSM (CRPS®) – A course of study encompassing design, installation, maintenance and administration of retirement plans. Additionally, individuals must pass an end-of-course examination that tests their ability to synthesize complex concepts and apply theoretical concepts to real-life situations.

    3. Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) – Professionals that have completed extensive training and experience requirements in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning and retirement. These individuals are also held to rigorous ethical standards. They understand the complexities of the changing financial climate and know how to make recommendations in your best interest.

    4. Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional (FPQP™) – A course of study encompassing the financial planning process, the five disciplines of financial planning and general financial planning concepts, terminology and product categories. Individuals must pass an end-of-course examination that tests their ability to synthesize complex concepts and apply theoretical concepts to real-life situations.

What You Can Expect to Pay

It’s important to understand the fee structure in your plan. There are many ways that you and your employees might be paying fees, and it can be difficult to know what questions to ask. With us, we try to be as transparent as possible so that there are no hidden fees. Here’s a look into what our services will cost and questions you should ask as you are evaluating your plan options.

  1. What types of fees are involved in a retirement plan?
  2. Retirement Plan fees are generally categorized into three major buckets: recordkeeper fees, advisory fees and third-party administration fees. In addition, the Plan Sponsor should be aware of the fees associated with the investment options, such as expense ratios, sales charges and early redemption fees, to name a few.

  3. How do your fees compare to other advisors who manage retirement plans?
  4. Given we are independent, we don’t push products or receive reoccurring fees on high-cost mutual funds. We practice a prudent due diligence process to ensure we seek the appropriate balance of high-quality offerings at a reasonable cost. In addition, we are able to offer our industry-leading actively managed equity strategy at no additional cost. Upon request, we can provide industry benchmarks so that you can see how our advisory fee compares to similar plans managed by other advisors.

  5. Does your retirement plan solution allow in-direct compensation to be paid to advisors from fund management companies?
  6. DCM typically does not recommend these types of funds to be in your investment lineup. With that being said, in the event that this type of fund is offered, the indirect compensation will be rebated to the plan participant who opts to use that particular option.

  7. What does fee transparency mean to you? How is this applied to your retirement plan solution?
  8. Our cost to manage your plan is up front and transparent. No baked-in or hidden fees. You will know exactly how much you will pay, and we’ll provide statements on a regular basis benchmarking our fees relative to the industry.

  9. Does anybody else ever pay you to advise me and, if so, do you earn more to recommend certain products or services?
  10. No.

  11. Do you participate in any sales contests or award programs creating incentives to favor particular vendors?
  12. No.

  13. Will you itemize all your fees and expenses in writing?
  14. Yes.

  15. Do you pay referral fees to generate new clients?
  16. No.

  17. Do you earn fees for referring clients to HR-related specialists like third-party administrators or payroll providers?
  18. No.

  19. Are there one-time sales charges and ongoing commissions on securities or annuities you or your firm will be paid?
  20. No.

  21. Are there expense fees charged by any mutual funds or ETFs you recommend?
  22. All mutual funds and ETFs offered in DCM’s Retirement Plan Services program have fees, often referred to as expense ratios. However, it is our job to ensure we are offering high-quality funds at reasonable costs. During our annual meetings, we will review all-in fees, relative to industry benchmarks. We also offer our exclusive investment strategies in every plan for no additional cost.

  23. Are there sales charges for any mutual funds: up-front (A shares), backend (B shares), and ongoing (C shares)?
  24. We only utilize institutional fund share classes which contain no sales load charges. This helps ensure we are offering the most cost-effective share class to the plan. As part of our rigorous due diligence process, we continually evaluate the mutual funds offered in the lineup to make certain that no changes should be made to the fund offerings and share classes. These reports and our actions are provided to the Plan Sponsor on a quarterly basis.

  25. Do you charge early redemption fees?
  26. No.

  27. Is there an extra fee for financial education?
  28. Our advisors provide investment consulting and basic financial wellness education at no additional cost. DCM may expand upon these services by partnering with an industry-leading Financial Wellness program with structured educational training. For plans that decide to participate, this may be an additional cost that would be outlined and presented transparently as a part of the client experience.

  29. Do you charge per-hour rates or flat fees for working with my tax accountant, etc.?
  30. No. We welcome partnerships with your accountant, attorney or other third parties, in order to gather a more holistic view of your business finances.

  31. Do you charge trustee and/or custodial fees?
  32. DCM does not charge or profit from these types of fees. The custodian of your plan does charge an annual fee, and if you choose to hire a third party to act as trustee of the plan, there will be additional costs to do so.