Working with a financial advisor can provide many benefits for investors, especially during times of uncertainty, but it’s vital to do your homework before you hire someone. I recently added commentary for an article in U.S. News and World Report, outlining common mistakes investors make when hiring a financial advisor.
Retirement Plan Sponsor
Unified Trust knows that achieving successful retirement outcomes means having a clear vision of your participants' long-term goals and helping them get on the right path to achieve those goals. To help sponsors do this, we accept the fiduciary responsibility of being a discretionary trustee, providing the highest level of fiduciary oversight under ERISA. We sign our name next to the plan sponsor's as a 'Named Plan Fiduciary' in the plan documents. We do this because we believe in doing the right thing in the interest of others, not at their expense.
WHY UNIFIED TRUST?
Retirement success doesn’t have to be difficult.
Retirement success is one of the greatest benefits an employer can provide an employee, yet we know it doesn’t come without its challenges. Our goal is to make it easy.
THE DISCRETIONARY DIFFERENCE
Fiduciary Comparison Tool
Fiduciary is a common term but it can also be a confusing one. This interactive tool can help you better understand the various fiduciary roles and the difference a discretionary trustee can make for your plan.
Unified Trust is a discretionary trustee because we believe that trust must be the foundation for everything we do. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the discretionary trustee has "exclusive authority and discretion to manage and control the assets of the plan." Simply put, we have a legal duty to always act in the best interest of the participant and to do so using a prudent expert standard of care.
Our proprietary Unified Fiduciary Monitoring Index® gives us a balanced, long-term evaluation of each investment, relative to its peers.
Open Architecture—unlimited access to investment fund managers at the plan level—allows us to consider virtually any investment alternative, providing it is prudent and meets the plan’s Investment Policy guidelines.
Stable Value is an investment option that focuses on capital preservation by providing participants with bond-like returns without bond-like volatility.
We understand the importance of having an investment solution that accounts for changing market conditions, allowing for growth in good markets and defending against losses during major downturns. The Wealth Preservation Portfolio is a series of risk-based asset allocation funds that we offer exclusively for defined contribution and defined benefit plans.
As a discretionary trustee, Unified Trust has a duty to be loyal and to always act in the best interest of the participants. For this reason, we’re fee-based and take a no-conflict-of-interest approach.
PRUDENT INVESTMENT PROCESS
At Unified Trust, participant success is our compass.
Retirement success is best achieved with a holistic approach delivered by a discretionary trustee where all of the right things are done for the participant. An integral component of that is the implementation of a prudent investment process.
One of The Nation's First Discretionary Trustees
Unified Trust is one of the first discretionary trustees in the country. We accept full discretion and fiduciary responsibility for the assets of every plan under management.
For the participant, this means we can deliver a holistic approach, one that combines intelligent defaults including automatic enrollment, automatic deferral escalation, and rebalancing with an investment solution tailored to each participant’s unique circumstances3.
For the plan sponsor, a discretionary trustee can help deliver the benefit of retirement success to their participants while significantly reducing their fiduciary liability. By choosing a discretionary trustee, a plan sponsor can limit fiduciary responsibility for plan assets to the prudent selection of the discretionary trustee and periodic monitoring of the trustee’s services.
A Snapshot of Success
There are many organizations that will talk about retirement success but very few can or will quantify it. At Unified Trust, we have a record of time-tested solutions for helping people reach retirement success, and we have the results to show for it! We’re proud to report these results to you, because these aren’t just percentages and statistics, they are actual people. Percentages mean nothing, people mean everything!
Behavioral finance tells us that most people follow the path of least resistance. Therefore, we believe that the default path for a participant should be the one that most likely leads to success. We call this philosophy the Unified Success Pathway®. These intelligent defaults include:
- Instead of choosing to join, participants are automatically enrolled and must opt out if they choose not to participate.
- The Unified Progressive Savings Program®enables plan participants to automatically save a little bit more each year.
- The default investment is a diversified model portfolio, prudently managed by investment professionals.
- Periodic rebalancing is handled automatically for participants.
The Success Pathway lays the foundation. For plans looking to build on that foundation and deliver personalized solutions for each employee, there is the UnifiedPlan® Managed Account Solution3. The UnifiedPlan® is retirement made easy.
- A Defined Goal: It starts with defining a goal for each participant: to replace 70% of pre-retirement income, adjusted for inflation and targeting as close to the normal Social Security retirement age as possible. We then default into the least amount of risk needed to succeed, making adjustments as needed along the way.
- The Personalized Plan: We create a personalized plan to improve the likelihood that the participant will reach his or her goal. The plan is highly individualized –we look at many possible solutions to find the one that’s best. Each participant gets a plan that’s unique to his or her situation, current savings and assets, and projected years until retirement.
- Actively Monitored and Managed: We review each participant’s situation every quarter to make sure they have a prudent asset allocation and their funded ratio is on track to meet their retirement goal. If investment changes are needed, we make them automatically.
Unified Trust is not just a 401(k) provider. We offer a full array of ERISA services including those for ERISA §403(b) plans; 457(b), Cash Balance plans and traditional Defined Benefit Plans.
DEFINED BENEFIT AND CASH BALANCE PLANS
A Defined Benefit or Cash Balance Plan can provide plan sponsors and their participants with an additional means of saving more toward retirement in a qualified, tax deferred manner. They also provide another source of retirement income by increasing retirement security through income diversification.
As a discretionary trustee we are held to the highest standards of accountability for our record-keeping and administrative services. We have detailed, documented processes that are independently audited and consistently followed. We offer a flexible approach:
- The Fully Bundled Model provides a personalized, full service option for Plan Sponsors looking for a comprehensive retirement plan solution. In the Fully Bundled Model, Unified Trust—along with the plan’s Advisor—will provide investment management, record-keeping, administration, and compliance and education services consistent with the plan’s services agreement.
- Our Unbundled or Record-keeping Model allows Plan Sponsors to work with local third party administrators, in concert with Unified Trust and the plan’s Advisor on the design and administration of the plan.
- The Trustee Only Model combines features from both the Bundled and Unbundled Models. The third party generally provides record-keeping, administration, and education services, while Unified Trust serves as the trustee of the plan.
Managing your plan’s administrative requirements can be cumbersome and can slow sponsors down from focusing on running their business, so we developed Admin Assist to provide sponsors with help in fulfilling the daily demands of the retirement plan. Our Admin Assist fulfillment service allows sponsors to outsource delivery of certain plan participant notices.
We offer 180º payroll integration with various payroll providers with no additional cost from Unified Trust. The service allows a payroll provider to send data from a payroll file directly to us, eliminating the manual process for plan sponsors and streamlining the work that must be performed during each payroll period. Click here to see our current list of payroll partners.
You’re responsible for their future. We, along with your advisor, are here to help you make sure they have the one they want.
We have a "history of firsts" that have improved the chances of successful financial outcomes of plan participants2. It’s not about taking risks, it’s about advocating for progress and change to be a leader in our industry. We know that the success of our solutions comes from our fiduciary responsibility to always put the interests of our client's plan participants first.
Support from Unified Trust helps you focus on your clients.
Use the interactive map to find your dedicated team of professionals.
In a year where everything feels out of sync and in many ways out of control, there is no better time to celebrate and recognize October as National Financial Planning month.
On that sweltering Belmont Park afternoon in front 69,000 plus spectators, Secretariat delivered one of the most iconic moments in American sports history. While the last six months of stock market movement isn’t a “moment” in time we can all point to, it has most definitely been momentous for investors and non-investors alike.
Earlier this summer I was asked to submit a retirement investing tip for an article in US News and World Report. Ironically, just within the last few months, a niece and two of my nephews (ages 20-23) each asked me how to get started as well. I shared these five simple strategies with them.
If you’ve lately checked the headlines of most financial news sources, you’re bound to be somewhat confused. In a time of extreme uncertainty comes extreme takes on where the market is headed and what actions investors should be doing.
Retirement readiness takes years of careful planning and customized strategies. The rapidly-changing environment is prompting nearly everyone to reassess their lifestyle, spending habits, career plans and future goals. But for those nearing retirement, it might leave some to wonder if they have achieved or are close enough to their goal of retirement readiness.
We’ve all dreamed of winning the lottery and sailing off into the sunset footloose and fancy free! In celebration of National Lottery Day, which just so happens to be today, we’ve put together a few steps to take to help make your dreams become reality.
In the world of investing, four of the most dangerous words you can ever say are, “This time is different.” Throughout history, experts have warned “this time is different” when facing various crises that in their opinion render historical precedent, flawed at best and irrelevant at worst. The amount of history being witnessed right now does lead one to ask the age-old question: is this time different?
Events like we have seen in early 2020 leave many investors wondering: Is volatility management part of my plan for retirement? And if not, what do I need to do to make that happen?
Recently on CNBC, financial experts took turns predicting the stock market and discussing how it is way over-priced due to the very bleak economic circumstances. During that same time frame, another half-dozen suggested the worst was over. How can experts be so far off?
You do not need to inherit a long-lost relative’s estate or even win the lottery to set yourself up for success, you just need to follow practical financial fundamentals and stick to it for the long-term. So today, let us celebrate “National Be a Millionaire Day” by looking at real-life millionaire money hacks.
Since the start of the pandemic that’s rocked the world, rattled the stock markets and significantly altered the way we live and work, what we’ve come to realize is that investing in community isn’t about money. It’s about seeing a need, realizing you are in a unique position to meet that need and then doing it, taking action!
Amid so much uncertainty, we should all follow the basic recommendations for relieving stress and practicing self-care. Here are some tips and recommendations for exercising control and managing risk that will ultimately provide for successful financial outcomes.
The global pandemic has created a very interesting, sometimes surreal, collection of experiences for many of us. We watch the investment markets flying in all directions with incredible volatility. It really is that ‘interesting time’ that we’ve all heard we would be living through.
Grab your popcorn, movie awards season is upon us! From year to year, the winning genre varies depending on trends, current events and even the whim of the audience. Not unlike the movie awards, investment categories also prove to be hard to predict which one will be the big winner for the year.
You’re likely familiar with the idea of (or have personal experience with) a personal financial advisor. However, you may be asking what exactly a nonprofit financial advisor is and what do they do? You’re not alone.
October is Financial Planning Month! Questions about charitable giving are asked quite often, especially around this time of year, and can easily be addressed in a personal financial plan.
If you are over 70 ½ and have a traditional IRA or a qualified plan account like a 401(k), the tax rules require you to take withdrawals from your account annually. In most cases you pay income taxes on the RMD amount. But what you do with the distribution – the money itself – is your choice. Here are a few thoughts on what to do with your RMD.
While there are many fiduciary roles, the key concept to grasp is the difference between a discretionary trustee and a directed trustee. If you can understand this distinction, you should be able to help turn fiduciary confusion into fiduciary clarity. There are five things you need to know....
As a fiduciary, we at Unified Trust Company take pride in our goal-based planning approach. This is the game plan that helps clients achieve their goals by managing the downside risk and staying the course.