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10 Video Lessons
11 Interactive Quizzes
13 Compliance Tips
1 Certificate of Completion
Continuing Education Credit

Why Take This Course?

Have you ever had to do a job you without proper training? These situations almost always lead to sub-optimal outcomes and poor performance.  

So here's the issue - you've got members of your retirement committee who haven't received any job training in a meaningful but are responsible for millions and millions of dollars of their co-workers financial future, plus personal and corporate liability.  Would you hire someone at your company for a really important role and not provide them any training whatsoever?  Of course not.  So wouldn't it make sense to do the same thing for your committee members in an easy, cost-effective way? 

Created in consultation with Fred Reish from Drinker Biddle,  this course is designed to help retirement plan fiduciaries have a full understanding of what it means to be an ERISA fiduciary and to become better prepared to face their duties and manage both the corporate and personal liability that has arisen due to increased scrutiny from the Department of Labor and the rapidly growing number of 401(k) and 403(b) lawsuits in the marketplace.


Who Should Take This Course?

Retirement Plan Committee Members & Plan Fiduciaries

Retirement Plan Support Staff (e.g. HR, Payroll or Accounting)

Industry Professionals (e.g. advisors, TPAs and auditors)



Learning Objectives

This is an introductory level course. Upon completion, students will be able to: 

4. Be able to identify DOL and IRS enforcement priorities

5. Learn about “real life” lessons and best practices from recent ERISA litigation

  1. Understand ERISA fiduciary status, duties and liability

  2. Be able to identify a process for choosing investments and understanding fees

  3. Know how to select and monitor vendors and service providers


Course Overview

(Click + to expand for syllabus and chapter descriptions)

+ Introduction

  • Welcome to Fiduciary U™
  • Your Instructor
  • Disclaimer
  • Course Overview

+ Chapter 1: Overview of ERISA

Chapter Description - This chapter covers the history and background of ERISA as well as which plans are subject to the regulation.

  • Lesson 1 - History & Background
  • Lesson 2 - What ERISA Applies To
  • Lesson 3 - ERISA's Conduct Standards
  • Lesson 4 - Non- ERISA Plans
  • Compliance Tip #1
  • Chapter 1 Quiz

+ Chapter 2: Fiduciary Status and Duties

Chapter Description - This chapter reviews fiduciary vs. non-fiduciary functions as well as ERISA's fiduciary duties and elements of a prudent process.

  • Lesson 1 - Fiduciary Functions
  • Lesson 2 - Settlor (Non-Fiduciary Functions)
  • Lesson 3 - Ministerial Functions
  • Lesson 4 - Co-Fiduciary Liability
  • Compliance Tip #2
  • Lesson 5 - Fiduciary Duties – ERISA Section 404(a)
  • Lesson 6 - A Prudent Fiduciary Process
  • Lesson 7 - Who Is Generally Not a Fiduciary?
  • Chapter 2 Quiz

+ Chapter 3: Fiduciary Liability

Chapter Description - This chapter discusses common fiduciary breach claims, consequences of a breach and prohibited transactions.

  • Lesson 1 - Consequences of Breaching Fiduciary Duties
  • Compliance Tip #3
  • Lesson 2 - Common Fiduciary Breach Claims
  • Lesson 3 - Prohibited Transactions
  • Lesson 4 - Section 406(a) – Transactions with “Parties in Interest”
  • Lesson 5 - Who Are “Parties in Interest”?
  • Lesson 6 - Section 406(b) – Transactions between Plans and Fiduciaries
  • Compliance Tip #4
  • Lesson 7 - Consequences of (Non-Exempt) Prohibited Transactions
  • Lesson 8 - Dispelling the Myths
  • Chapter 3 Quiz

+ Chapter 4: Plan Management

Chapter Description - This chapter addresses various aspects of the plan document, amendments, Form 5500 and participant disclosures.

  • Lesson 1 - The Plan Document
  • Lesson 2 - Amendments
  • Lesson 4 - Pre-Approved Plans
  • Lesson 5 - Prototype Plans
  • Lesson 6 - Volume Submitter Plans
  • Lesson 7 - Non-Discrimination Testing
  • Lesson 8 - Types of Tests
  • Compliance Tip #5
  • Lesson 9 - Form 5500
  • Lesson 10 - Participant Disclosures
  • Compliance Tip #6
  • Lesson 11 - Participant Disclosures for Participant Directed Plans
  • Lesson 12 - 408(b)(2) Disclosures
  • Lesson 13 - Content Of The 408(b)(2) Disclosures
  • Chapter 4 Quiz

+ Chapter 5: Plan Investments

Chapter Description - This chapter describes investment duties under ERISA, selection and monitoring best practices, and 404(c) protection.

  • Lesson 1 - Investment Duties Under ERISA
  • Lesson 2 - Types of Investment Providers
  • Lesson 3 - Selection and Monitoring
  • Compliance Tip #7
  • Lesson 4 - Investment Policy Statements
  • Compliance Tip #8
  • Lesson 5 - Menu Construction
  • Lesson 6 - Brokerage Windows
  • Lesson 7 - 404(c) Protection
  • Lesson 8 - Delegation to a 3(38) Manager
  • Chapter 5 Quiz

+ Chapter 6: Plan Fees

Chapter Description - This chapter covers fee types, allocation methods, revenue sharing and administrative vs, settlor expenses.

  • Lesson 1 - Types of Fees
  • Lesson 2 - Reasonable Compensation
  • Lesson 3 - Expense Allocation
  • Compliance Tip #9
  • Lesson 4 - Share Classes and Revenue Sharing
  • Compliance Tip #10
  • Lesson 5 - Settlor vs. Administrative Expenses
  • Chapter 6 Quiz

+ Chapter 7: Vendor Selection and Management

Chapter Description - This chapter reviews how to properly evaluate and select vendors and service providers and outsourced 3(16) administrative services.

  • Lesson 1 - Evaluation Process (and Frequency)
  • Lesson 2 - 3(16) Administrative Services
  • Chapter 7 Quiz

+ Chapter 8: Hot Topics for Fiduciaries

Chapter Description - This chapter discusses fee litigation, DOL and IRS enforcement priorities, and target date fund (TDF) selection.

  • Lesson 1 - Fee Litigation
  • Lesson 2 - Stable Value
  • Lesson 3 - DOL and IRS Enforcement Priorities
  • Compliance Tip #11
  • Lesson 4 - Company Stock
  • Lesson 5 - Target Date Fund Selection
  • Lesson 6 - Retirement Income Adequacy
  • Chapter 8 Quiz

+ Chapter 9: Lessons From Fiduciary Litigation

Chapter Description - This chapter describes several landmark court decisions that provide “real life” lessons about the importance of a prudent fiduciary process.

  • Lesson 1 - Tussey v. ABB
  • Lesson 2 - Tibble v. Edison
  • Lesson 3 - Tibble v. Edison, Con’t.
  • Lesson 4 - George v. Kraft
  • Lesson 5 - George v. Kraft, Con’t.
  • Chapter 9 Quiz

+ Chapter 10: Other Issues and Best Practices

Chapter Description - This chapter addresses bonding and insurance, fiduciary governance/oversight structure and the importance of fiduciary process documentation.

  • Lesson 1 - Bonding and Insurance
  • Lesson 2 - Fiduciary Governance/Oversight Structure
  • Compliance Tip #12
  • Lesson 3 - Fiduciary Process Documentation
  • Compliance Tip #13
  • Lesson 4 - Reliance on Third Party Experts
  • Chapter 10 Quiz

+ Final Exam

  • 20 Questions

Required Survey


Continuing Education Credits

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This course has been approved for 2.5 hours of general CFP® CE credit.*

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This course has been approved for 2.5 hours of Fi360 CE credit.

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This program has been  approved for 2.5 (HR (General)) recertification credit hours toward aPHR™, aPHRi™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®,  PHRi™ and SPHRi™ recertification through the HR Certification Institute.


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This program is valid for 2.5 PDCs for the SHRM-CP℠ or SHRM-SCP℠.


*Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S.