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What is a Fiduciary?


What is all this talk about being a “fiduciary” to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan? What is it? Am I one?


A fiduciary is any individual or entity that has, or exercises discretionary control over the management of the ERISA 401(k) or 403(b) plan or the plan’s assets. Fiduciaries should always be named in the plan document or in a committee charter. These individuals are owners, board members, human resources employees, attorneys, accountants, advisors, etc.

Fiduciaries must:

  • Act solely in the interest of the plan participants,
  • Be prudent when acting on behalf of the plan,
  • Be prudent when selecting investments and take appropriate consideration,
  • Follow the terms of the plan document,
  • Diversify Plan investments,
  • Appoint appropriate trustees and fiduciaries and review performance at reasonable intervals,
  • Comply with all ERISA Reports and disclosures, and
  • Carry a fidelity Bond(s).

A compliant plan and its fiduciaries will have all documents to the plan organized and up-to-date in a “Fiduciary File”. Use this checklist Organizing Your Fiduciary File to help prepare your file.

A special thanks to Joanna Hankey, CFP®, REBC®, RHU®, Senior Account Executive for Investment/Retirement Plan Consulting with HORAN, for sharing her expertise with us. You can contact her with questions at or 513-745-0707.