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Triangle Fiduciary 101: You Might Be a Fiduciary

Published on: December 2, 2014

In our last blog post, we talked about the definition of a fiduciary and what that means in the financial services realm.

As a reminder, you are a fiduciary if you exercise discretionary control over the management of a plan or its assets—in this case we’re referring to a 401K, defined contribution or other type of retirement plan. But what does that mean, functionally?

One major problem we see all too often is that a person often doesn’t know he or she even IS a fiduciary. In this post, we’d like to go a step further and help you identify whether you are a fiduciary (just in case you’re on the fence).

So, in the spirit of the great American philosopher, Jeffrey Marshall Foxworthy, we present you with:

You Might be a Fiduciary…

If you have a vote that makes decisions about a plan or its assets (such as evaluating fund performance, fund changes, fund additions and/or vendor changes)… you might be a fiduciary.

If you’re in an official group given fiduciary duty such as Benefit/ Investment Committees, Board of Directors or Trustees… you might be a fiduciary.

If you get paid for your ideas on discretionary control… you might be a fiduciary.

If you declared, “I am a fiduciary” in writing in your role as a manager… you might be a fiduciary.

If you know what the ERISA 3(38) requirements are and you meet them… you might be a fiduciary.

If you’re a Trustee… you might be a fiduciary.

If you’re a member of the Employer’s Board of Directors… you might be a fiduciary.

If plan fiduciaries rely on your counsel (perhaps as an attorney or consultant)… you might be a fiduciary.


So, based on this list, are you a fiduciary? It’s a question worth answering. Fiduciaries are inherently in a position of power. And with power, we all know, comes great responsibility. At Nicklas, we are interested in helping you shoulder that responsibility. To discuss the fiduciary role, to determine if it is one you hold, and to outline an appropriate action steps you can take, you can contact one of us on the Nicklas team. There are no ifs for us; we want to help you.

Securities and Advisory Services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC.

Written by Ken Nicklas
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