Retirement Plans and 401(k)

Business owners who sponsor a 401(k) or other retirement plan have a fiduciary duty to make sure the plan is managed in the best interest of participants. This can be a big responsibility for a start-up plan or for an established plan. Golden Trail Advisers has extensive experience with retirement plans and the associated fiduciary responsibility. For more discussion about our retirement plan services, click on the following tabs:

Golden Trail Advisers provides a comprehensive level of service for retirement plans at competitive prices, with no hidden fees. Our staff members who handle retirement plans are highly seasoned, not new kids on the block.

As a registered investment adviser, Golden Trail Advisers is licensed to provide advice for retirement plans. Unlike a "broker" who sells a product, we provide advice about the options that are available to the plan sponsor.

In addition, we monitor ongoing investment performance and recommend changes when necessary. This comprehensive level of advice helps you to fulfill your fiduciary responsibility.

Golden Trail Advisers does not believe in merely reporting on the performance of each fund in a retirement plan. That does not help the plan sponsor understand how well people in the plan did with their investments.

So in addition to fund performance, Golden Trail Advisers provides plan fiduciaries and participants with performance information on our recommended portfolios. This kind of reporting is not common because it makes the adviser or broker accountable for performance.

Golden Trail Advisers believes that advisers should be accountable to plan sponsors and participants who follow their recommendations. We believe our level of accountability is a point of differentiation for our service.

Golden Trail Advisers is committed to helping plan sponsors fulfill their fiduciary duty and provide employees with a valuable benefit. We have found that some extra attention and advice for employees can improve the perception of the retirement plan as a benefit.

Unlike a "broker," Golden Trail Advisers is a registered investment adviser that is licensed to provide investment advice for the plan and for each participant. We will meet with every employee to make sure they understand the two most important aspects of retirement plans:

  1. Realistic savings targets
  2. Appropriate investment strategies

In addition, we handle participants' specific questions without additional cost to the plan or the participant. Our goal is 100% satisfaction with the plan for plan sponsors and participants. Providing participant advice is important to the fiduciary responsibility of the plan and to the financial goals of employees.

Over time, you should maintain a historic file of the key aspects of your plan to make sure you can prove you are managing your plan in the best interest of participants. As standard business practice, Golden Trail Advisers provides written reports that are suitable for your fiduciary file.


Golden Trail Advisers can assist in reviewing your company retirement plan. Each "qualified" plan is required to be managed in the best interest of participants. For a number of reasons, this is not always the case.

Your retirement plan initially may have met the needs of your plan sponsor and participants, but it may not have kept pace with your goals or with changes in the business or regulatory environment. Reviewing your plan can lead to cost savings or greater satisfaction with the retirement plan.

Even if no changes are made, asking Golden Trail Advisers to review your plan can provide proof that you are fulfilling your fiduciary responsibility.

With the dizzying array of plan types available today, determining the right plan type can be a big job. This is where Golden Trail Advisers can help.

The right choice depends on the current and future goals of the company, as well as the demographics of the employee population. We help to collect and review this information to determine whether a new plan type or a modification would be beneficial.

The most common plan types are:

  • SIMPLE Plan
  • SEP Plan
  • 401(k) Plan
  • Safe Harbor 401(k) Plan
  • New Comparability 401(k) Plan
  • Profit Sharing Plan
  • Cash Value (modified defined benefit) Plan
  • Defined Benefit Plan
  • Non-Qualified Plan
  • Combination Plan

Each of these plan types has characteristics that make it better or worse in certain situations. The staff of Golden Trail Advisers has had extensive experience with many plan types. In addition, Golden Trail has an excellent rapport with plan administrators and fund companies. This gives us the ability to tap into the depth of experience at these companies for the benefit of clients and participants.

Plan Types

What differentiates a good plan from a bad plan is not usually the vendor, but the level of experience and commitment to service from the adviser who handles the plan. Most plan vendors have the same basic ingredients of multiple investment options, Internet and 800 number access, quarterly statements, etc.

Golden Trail Advisers recommends plans from several vendors. Determining which vendor is best for your plan depends on your goals, demographics and preferences. We can help you with this decision and will assist with a transition if necessary.

  1. A company with two partners and no employees was running a 401(k) plan. After reviewing the current situation and goals of the owners, it made sense to drop the 401(k) plan and utilize a SEP plan instead. The result was savings of about $2,000 annually.
  2. A medical group was about to change from a 401(k) to a SIMPLE plan. Based on the eligibility rules of SIMPLE plans versus 401(k) plans, they were about to implement a plan that could have cost them an extra $15,000 per year. We helped them update their 401(k) plan and avoid the extra expense.
  3. Another medical group had expenses through their existing 401(k) vendor that were too high. By changing vendors, they were able to save about 0.3% annually or $2,000 in 2010. In addition, they had not been happy with the abrasive personality of the plan representative. We fixed that problem, as well.
  4. A manufacturing company was concerned about the cost structure of a 140 person plan. Golden Trail Advisers determined that the cost was too high, not because of the fund company, but because the former adviser’s fee was inflated. We were able to reduce the fee and give the company our high level of service. This saved the company about $17,000 annually. In addition, we added several funds to their plan, which rounded out their lineup.


Golden Trail Advisers' comprehensive service for retirement plans can benefit you with your fiduciary responsibility. Excellence in this key area is one more way we help you on "your path to financial well-being."