Fiduciary Duties

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) sets standards of conduct for sponsors of employee benefit plans. Those who manage employee benefit plans are called fiduciaries. Keep in mind that whether one is a fiduciary depends on one’s actions regarding the plan and not just on one’s title as a fiduciary.


Under ERISA, there are several basic responsibilities required of fiduciaries:

  • Act only in the interest of plan participants and their beneficiaries
  • Act only within the scope allowed under the plan documents
  • Pay employee contributions as soon as reasonably possible
  • Provide required plan and investment information to participants
  • Obey the plan documents
  • Prudently, diligently, and skillfully execute all tasks
  • Diversify plan investments
  • Pay only reasonable plan expenses and fees
  • Monitor the plan’s service provider’s and investment advisor’s actions
  • Avoid conflicts of interest that could have an adverse effect on the plan
In addition to requiring these basic responsibilities, ERISA prohibits fiduciaries from engaging in certain transactions:

  • Self-dealing transactions
  • Sales, leases or exchanges between the plan and a prohibited party
  • Lending or extending credit between the plan and a prohibited party
  • Providing goods, services or facilities between the plan and a prohibited party
  • Accepting money or other incentives for personal use from a prohibited party

It is important for all fiduciaries to know and understand what ERISA requires and prohibits so that the employee benefit plan remains ERISA-compliant. If a fiduciary has violated a duty, employers are encouraged to correct the violation via the Department of Labor’s Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program. If the violation causes a monetary loss in the employee benefit plan, the fiduciary may be personally liable to reimburse the plan to the extent of the loss.

If you have any questions regarding the fiduciary’s role in your plan, please contact us. 

More information regarding fiduciaries can be found on the United States Department of Labor web site.


We’ve collected a few resources that might help when completing ERISA filings.

Department of Labor EFAST2 Login Page

Web Client 5500 Login Page

If you’d like to contact us for specific help, please use the forms below to collect information we’ll need to process your request.

Census Form

Plan Proposal Questionnaire


We’ve also collected links to government agency sites that might provide additional help.

Internal Revenue Service

Department of Labor

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation


We like to share things we think might help our clients, like additional resources and links to great articles.  Visit our NEWS page where you can find posts from our associates and search for specific topics.


Plan Timeline

Deadlines that retirement plan sponsors must observe can be confusing and complex. Take a look at this summary timeline we’ve prepared for calendar year plans (January 1st to December 31st), to assist you with some of the more notable deadlines.