How Do I Choose the Best Pension Specialists?

Geri Terzo

Administrators who run pension funds do not perform all of the necessary tasks alone. In addition to internal support and corporate governance, third-party pension specialists are often hired to provide some of the functions needed for a retirement fund to be run successfully. The best way to go about hiring these outside parties is to issue a request for proposal (RFP) or some similar formal search process to announce the pending need. Although a retirement consultant may in fact be one of the pension specialists needed, once hired, this professional can help with the search and selection process for other providers.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

To hire the best consultant pension specialists, find out which firms other pension funds of a similar size and with a comparable structure are using. These consultants may in fact cater to retirement funds of a certain size and composition. Consultants also have track records for recommending asset managers to oversee investments on behalf of pensions. Throughout the selection process, ask questions about portfolio performance of other clients even if the names of those funds are not disclosed. The decision to hire pension specialists may also come down to convenience, and you may want to select a firm that has an office location nearby.

An RFP is a common way to alert pension specialists that there is a need. To find the best provider, be extremely specific in the notification. If you have an investment style in place, and you are looking for money managers to invest assets, outline the strategy of the pension fund. For instance, if you prefer to take on minimal risk and have passive managers who attempt to perform in line with certain market barometers, designate that the pension is limited to this type of management so that you do not receive unwanted queries.

Upon receiving responses to an RFP, narrow the choices to the top few candidates. Invite the different providers in to field questions from plan representatives and a board of directors. When a decision is made, also name a backup pension specialist in the event that the background check on the top choice does not go as planned.

There are different types of pension plans, including defined benefit and contribution structures. The latter is typically associated with a 401(k) retirement plan, but both might be referred to as pensions. When selecting a pension specialist, identify candidates with experience servicing the type of pension structure that is in place at your plan sponsor.

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