BenefitGuard FAQ

Who is BenefitGuard?

BenefitGuard is a full-scope 401(k) provider that specializes in offering a low-cost, high-service 401(k) solution for businesses of all sizes. With the help of our partners, our services include recordkeeping, TPA, custodial, advisory, and full fiduciary services. BenefitGuard manages your 401(k) plan for you, so you can focus on running your business. You can learn more about how it works here.

How is BenefitGuard different?

The 401(k) model is broken and we’re fixing it. Nobody eliminates 401(k) cost, risk, and work like we do. Unlike any other 401(k) provider in the industry, BenefitGuard appoints professional fiduciaries to sign and act in the primary fiduciary roles for you. This allows you to focus on running your business while we take on the fiduciary risk and administrative minutiae of running your plan. Because we do this for thousands of clients across the country, we’ve been able to negotiate amazing prices with the industry-best providers allowing us to save the average company 30-60% of their total plan costs. Less cost, less risk, less work…period! Learn more here.

What is a Fiduciary?

The law governing 401(k) plans (ERISA) defines a fiduciary as anyone who:

• Exercises any discretionary authority or control over the management of the plan or its assets.
• Has any discretionary authority or responsibility in the administration of the plan.
• Renders investment advice for a fee or other compensation, with respect to any moneys or other property of the plan, or has any authority or responsibility to do so.

The primary fiduciary roles on a 401(k) plan include the 3(16) Plan Administrator, 3(21) Named Fiduciary, 3(38) Investment Manager, Plan Sponsor, Trustee, and Financial Advisor. To learn more about how BenefitGuard helps takes on fiduciary risk and work for you, click here.

How much does a BenefitGuard plan cost?

Our goal is always to keep total plan costs between .6% – 1.5% of plan assets. And when we say total plan costs, we mean it. That includes recordkeeping, TPA, custodial, fiduciary, advisory, and investment costs. Yep, you heard right, that includes the cost of the funds. Many 401(k) companies will show you a “total” cost and fail to mention that most of the plan costs are buried in the retail priced, actively managed mutual funds they make available to you. The fees on our plan are made up of an annual base fee, a per account fee, and asset based fees depending on your plan size and services. For more information on pricing or a custom quote, click here.

How much does a BenefitGuard plan cost the employer?

A BenefitGuard plan can be setup so the employer pays $0 in ongoing plan costs. Because our plan costs are so low, we have a number of larger plan sponsors that are able to pass all plan costs on to the participating employees. However, in most cases, the company elects to pay at least the annual base fee of $1,500/yr. Almost every fee in the BenefitGuard plan is flexible in terms of who can pay it. Some companies elect to pay more fees for employees while others elect to pay less. You choose!

Does BenefitGuard have any termination fees?

Nope. BenefitGuard has no termination fees. We think you should be able to come and leave as you please because we’re confident that our service model will keep you around for a very long time. The only termination fee when moving from a BenefitGuard plan is assessed by the Recordkeeper to cover the cost of closing down a plan and processing the transfer of plan assets. Typically, that cost is $495 compared to an industry average of $1,400.

Does custom plan design cost extra?

No way. We don’t believe in the “bait and switch” approach that many providers use. We do a custom plan design call for every one of our clients so we can tailor every plan feature to specific goals and needs. This includes custom matching, Safe Harbor plans, profit sharing, vesting schedules, eligibility, Roth contributions, loan provisions, and more.

Do new comparability and cross-tested analyses cost extra?

Of course not. These features and services are included in your annual plan costs and never cost you extra. When you compare the $0 that we charge with the industry average of $750, you see one more area that we save you money!

Does BenefitGuard charge me an initial plan document or document restatement fees?

BenefitGuard has no plan document charges when setting up a plan because we use a proprietary plan document in a custom model. So, essentially, we paid for the plan documents so that you don’t have to!

Does BenefitGuard charge me a plan restatement fees?

BenefitGuard does not charge for the plan document associated with restatements. Our restatement fee for the work associated with re-drafting adoption and service agreements is only $100 (which occurs once every 5-6 years) compared to $500-$3,500 with a typical provider.

How does BenefitGuard help with my annual 5500 filing?

We don’t just prepare your 5500 for you, we also review it, sign it, and file it. Yep. We do it all. No more signing your name on a tax document you didn’t prepare and you might not understand. This helps take work off your plate and more importantly, eliminates significant fiduciary risk in the case of a DOL, IRS, or EBSA audit.

Will I have a dedicated plan contact?

Yes. You will have a dedicated plan contact at BenefitGuard for any questions that arise. Your plan contact will work with all of the service providers on the plan to find answers to your questions and solutions to any issues that may arise.

Is there a toll-free number for participant questions?

Yep. Here it is: 800-878-5220. There are English and Spanish speakers available to answer questions for all participants.

Does BenefitGuard run enrollment meetings?

Of course. We do that too. If you’re plan doesn’t have a financial advisor to come run your enrollment meeting, we’ll do it for you. We typically do a pre-recorded webinar or a live webinar, but can also arrange for live enrollment meetings depending on plan size and company location, if needed.

How do employees enroll in the plan?

Employees can enroll online, by phone, or by mail. Most employees elect to use our easy three step online enrollment which takes less than 5 minutes.

Can BenefitGuard integrate with my payroll provider?

You better believe it. We have worked with our Recordkeeper to build integration with a variety of different payroll providers including Sage Payroll, Paylocity, Paycor, Payroll Experts, and others. Regardless of who your payroll provider is, we can typically build some level of integration and custom reporting to make sure that submitting your payroll information every couple of weeks only takes you a few minutes. Learn more about how we integrate with payroll providers here.

What type of investments are available?

Our platform is open-architecture providing access to almost every possible investment option allowed within a 401(k) plan. Because we appoint Registered Investment Advisory Firms as the investment managers on your plan, your employees will have access to pre-built, pre-diversified model portfolios and target date options built with the best, low-cost funds on the market like Vanguard, and Dimensional Funds. This sophisticated and low-cost approach makes investment decisions easy for employees. The average expense ratio in our fund lineups, including the pre-built model portfolios, is just .19%. Should an employee want more flexibility, they also have the ability to open up a self-directed brokerage account within the plan at no additional cost. Learn more about our approach with investments here.

Can participants change and rebalance investments online?

Yes, sir. Employees can change their investment allocations and rebalance their accounts as often as possible. By default, the investment manager sets an appropriate re-balancing frequency. We recommend every 6 months to a year.

How long does it take to change 401(k) providers?

If you have an existing plan, it typically takes a minimum of 45 days to change plans because there is a required 30-day notice that has to be issued to employees. But don’t worry, during that time you’ll likely only have to do about 90 minutes of work since we do most of the heavy lifting for you.

How long does it take to setup a new plan?

We can setup a new plan in as quick as 7-15 days depending on how fast the client can get us the information we need. However, if that new plan is a Safe Harbor plan, there is a required 30-day notice that must go out to employees which extends the time frame to about 45 days.

What size companies does BenefitGuard work with?

BenefitGuard works with employers of all sizes. We manage plans ranging from 1 employee to 5,000 employees, and from $0 to $50MM in plan assets. Our typical client has 50+ employees and $1MM+ in plan assets but our solution works great for just about anyone. We have no minimum size requirements to setup a plan.

Can BenefitGuard work with my existing financial advisor?

Absolutely! Financial advisors love working with us and we’re happy to keep them on the plan if that’s your preference. A BenefitGuard plan can run with your current advisor, without an advisor, or we can even help you find a new advisor who will provide value for your plan and the participants. Learn more about how we work with advisors here.

Is BenefitGuard insured and bonded?

Of course we are. As plan fiduciaries we keep ample bonding for each and every plan we service. Additionally, our bond can actually include you as a plan sponsor at a fraction of the cost you would typically pay to an outside provider. BenefitGuard also carries various other umbrella and fiduciary liability insurance policies to protect plan participants and assets.

Where will the plan assets be held?

While we have the capability to work with a number of different custodians, we custody almost all of our assets with TD Ameritrade because of their exceptional service and reputation in the industry.

Can I setup a 401(k) plan for multiple companies?

You sure can. We do this for a number our clients that have multiple companies with common or separate ownership. In our setup process, we’ll help you determine the most efficient structure for pricing and operating plans for multiple companies depending on whether or not those plans constitute a controlled group or an affiliate services group.

Does BenefitGuard allow revenue sharing or indirect compensation?

No way! Indirect compensation almost always creates a conflict of interest so we don’t allow it. All fees to financial advisors and other service providers on our plan are disclosed up front and paid directly from the plan or employer to the provider. If a fund is ever selected that has revenue sharing, it goes straight back to the plan! Want to learn more about indirect compensation and why we don’t allow it? Here’s a good read.