I have worked over the years, formally or informally, with a number of third party administrators, investment advisors, and similar service providers to plans, and have always preferred those who bring to the table a real understanding of, and ability to communicate, the substantive issues that impact plan operation and performance. If you think of it in the framework of my rubric of defensive plan building (which is how I view most everything in representing plan sponsors and fiduciaries), hiring advisors who fit that description goes far towards protecting plan sponsors and fiduciaries from liability, because fiduciaries satisfy – in essence – their duty of prudence when they hire the expertise that they lack internally. By way of contrast to hiring people who know what they are doing – i.e., who can walk the walk – rather than those who can just talk the talk, there is the contrary option of just hiring the guy who takes you golfing, which probably isn’t going to satisfy the duty of prudence.
I have always liked Mark Griffith’s work for this reason and he shares his expertise on his (relatively) new blog, Fiduciary Advisor. In the first two parts of a three part series, Mark gives a thorough and thoughtful insider’s perspective on the impact of the fee disclosure regulations. They are worth a read, particularly for those of you who are ready for something above and beyond simply descriptions of what the regulations themselves require to be done.