Understanding each 401(k) service provider’s role and responsibility is important to the success of your plan. In this overview, learn what is expected from a Plan Sponsor, Investment Adviser, TPA and Recordkeeper.


Plan Sponsor


Investment Adviser


  • Oversees the plan and selects providers
  • Legally must act in the best interest of the plan participants and their beneficiaries
  • Follows the plan documents
  • Selects, or hires someone qualified to select, the plan investments
  • Pays only reasonable plan expenses


  • Gives advice on investments within the plan
  • Plan coordination
  • Employee participation & education


  • Personal financial advisers without meaningful 401(k) experience
  • 3(21) Investment advisers offer investment advice on limited fiduciary protection
  • 3(38) Investment manager makes investment decisions and takes liability for them

Typical Fee Arrangements:

  • Some charge a clear and transparent flat fee
  • Others are paid by the Record Keeper based on the products they recommend to businesses
  • Fees can be found on the 408(b)2 disclosure and the Form ADV2

Third Party Administrator (TPA)


Record Keeper



  • Plan design
  • Plan documents
  • Annual compliance testing
  • 5500 filing
  • Some plans use a TPA, while others have the Record Keeper handle the plan administration
  • Can provide a local presence and more hands on expertise for non-standard plans


  • Tracks contribution sources
  • Provides website access
  • Provides statements


  • Insurance companies
  • Payroll companies
  • Record keeping companies
  • Brokerage firms

Bundled Arrangements:

A single vendor provides all recordkeeping and administration

Typical Fee Arrangements for TPAs and Record Keepers:

  • Usually a baseline fee, a per participant fee, and ancillary fees
  • Various fees are detailed on your 408(b)2 disclosure including: annual, per participant, plan assets, administration, group annuity fees and revenue sharing
  • The plan participant fees can be found on the 404a5 disclosure

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About Us

Fisher Investments 401(k) Solutions is dedicated to helping small and mid-size businesses deliver successful ‭retirement plan services. Our success is defined by each business achieving its custom 401(k) plan goals and by ‭empowering employees with the dedicated support and resources necessary to achieve a dignified retirement. Our ‭solutions are built on the core principles of providing employers and employees ready access to dedicated 401(k) ‭specialists, flexible investment options, and fee transparency.

The Fisher Investments Resource Library is designed to support 401(k) Plan Sponsors with insights, tools and ‭answers without obligation.

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Camas, WA 98607


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