401(k) Shield


Retirement Plan Trustees at Risk

Your employees now have a standing  before the court to challenge a trustee’s decisions regarding investment selection!  Win or lose, You Lose!  As a business owner and trustee, protect yourself with the 401(k) Shield.
WASHINGTON May 18, 2015  (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived claims made by Edison International employees who accused the utility of favoring higher-cost mutual funds over lower-cost ones in its retirement plan.  Reuters

70% of Audited Plans Were Fined!

“The results have been eye- popping: 70% of retirement plans audited by the Labor Department were fined, received penalties or had to make reimbursements for errors in 2009 and 2010, according to the latest figures available. Plan sponsors coughed up more than $1 billion in corrections, reinstatements and fines, for an average assessment of $450,000, the department reported.” “The buzz is that the department is stepping up its efforts to audit 401(k) plans and other Employer-sponsored retirement plans.  It is in the middle of hiring 1,000 new employees, including 670 investigators, as part of its increased focus on noncompliance issues.” Source: Investment News

Are You at Risk?

As trustee of your plan, you have a fiduciary responsibility for the participants for which you will be held legally liable.  What you do not know could hurt you.


  • A written Investment Policy Statement.
  • A written record of activities by trustees and fiduciaries.
  • Written criteria for investments offered in your plan.
  • Recorded due diligence regarding vendors and expenses to your plan.
  • A structured participant education program.
  • Recorded due diligence regarding Qualified Default Investment Alternatives (QDIA)
  • Automatic participant enrollment.
“The last 10 to 15 years have been the first exploratory wave [of 401(k) fee litigation], and it’s coming down market,” Mr. Campbell warned.” “If you have everything lined up and ready to go, then the plan isn’t as attractive to the attorney who is taking this on speculation,” he added. “They are looking for low-hanging fruit.” Bradford P. Campbell, counsel with Drinker Biddle & Reath

401(k) Shield


401(k) Shield

When dealing with regulations, prudence is process—but only if you can prove it.  The 401(k) Shield is a three year cyclical process designed to provide the trustee with direction and documentation in fulfilling your responsibilities to the participants of your plan.  Our Accredited Investment Fiduciaries will guide you as you


  • Identify and document plan goals and objectives
  • Define and document investment criteria
  • Establish a schedule


  • Create an Investment Policy Statement based on plan criteria.
  • Evaluate and document your current plan in light of plan criteria.
  • Prepare a written report and recommendations.


  • Make or recommend adjustments to plan
  • Develop transition plan (if applicable)
  • Schedule 401(k) Shield activities.
  • Maintain documentation of trustee actions and decisions.
  • Retain Independent Fiduciary for evaluation of funds in plan. (optional)


  • Investment Performance
  • Plan Expenses
  • Participant Education Program
  • Best practices and regulatory updates
  • Requests for proposals (3 year interval)
  • Participant Advisory Services (discretionary)
The AIF Designation certifies that the recipient has specialized knowledge of fiduciary standards of care and their application to the investment management process. To receive the AIF Designation, the individual must meet prerequisite criteria based on a combination of education, relevant industry experience, and/or ongoing professional development, complete a training program, successfully pass a comprehensive, closed-book final examination under the supervision of a proctor and agree to abide by the Code of Ethics and Conduct Standards. In order to maintain the AIF Designation, the individual must annually attest to the Code of Ethics and Conduct Standards, and accrue and report a minimum of six hours of continuing education. The Designation is administered by the Center for Fiduciary Studies, the standards-setting body of fi360.  
In 2005 David M. Wheat, CFS, ChFC, AIF® founded Axiom Advisors, LLC along with Brian Conway CFS, CFP®, RMA®.  Axiom is a Registered Investment Advisor in the State of New Hampshire.  We have built the firm to address the complex needs of a growing client base with a focus on technological efficiency and personal attention.  Learn More.