I was one of those commentators who ended last year on a “glass half empty” note when I characterized the 2008 retirement plan year as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Some commentators like Mark Miller were much more direct. Mr. Miller ended the year in his column that appears on his website, RetirementRevised, by writing 2008 ends with alarming retirement benefit trends.

But this is a new year when we can look ahead – and indeed, look ahead with optimism. The present retirement plan system can be fixed. And whether or not changes are made on either the legislative or regulatory level, or waiting for whenever the economy improves, the process can and should start now.

Josh Itzoe is among those of us that believe that many of the “broken” retirement plans, i.e., 401(k) plans, can be fixed by plan sponsors and other fiduciaries. Josh is both a CFP® and AIF® and is a Principal of Greenspring Wealth Management, Inc., a registered investment advisory firm and Independent Fiduciary in Towson, MD.

And to the point of this post, Josh is also the author of a recently published book, Fixing The 401(k): What Fiduciaries Must Know (And Do) To Help Employees Retire Successfully. So what’s so special about this book amidst all of the many 401(k) books out there. Here’s how Matthew D. Hutchison, MS, CPC, AIFA®, CRC®, answers that question in his Forward to the book.

There are many books about 401(k) plans. There are hundreds of thousands of professionals who want to invest your 401(k) assets. Very few of them, unfortunately, embrace a “participant first” approach to delivering retirement plan services. That is what makes this book so special. It is focused on one thing: Protecting future participant benefits. The goal of this book is to serve the best interests of nearly fifty million individual participants.

Those of us who have been around 401(k) plans for a while know who Matthew Hutcheson is. He’s an Indepenent Fiduciary himself and a published author and internationally recognized authority on retirement plans and their associated fiduciary issues. He’s also testified before Congress on these matters.

There’s nothing magic in Josh’s book. It’s just basic, old-school procedural prudence, the process by which fiduciaries act solely in the best interests of plan participants and their beneficiaries. It’s not only good risk management for fiduciaries, it’s just good management period.

 Here are some of the areas that Josh covers in his book:

  • The basic fiduciary responsibilities outlined under ERISA.
  • The roles, responsibilities, and motivations of the various people/companies involved in selling and servicing these plans.
  • Which questions to ask and what information to gather in order to uncover and reduce the various fees and expenses associated with 401(k) plans.
  • How to design a 401(k) plan to deliver successful outcomes.
  • How to help employees use the plan most effectively.

So if you’re a plan sponsor concerned about both your personal responsibilities and your participants’ retirement security, then this book can be an excellent guide.  Here’s a link to Amazon if you want to purchase the book. You can also follow Josh through his new blog of the same name, Fixing The 401(k).