A recent survey revealed some startling news about the lack of fiduciary awareness. In the survey conducted by AllianceBernstein L.P., more than 1,000 defined-contribution plan executives were asked if they were fiduciaries. While all in fact were fiduciaries, nearly half said they were not, and another 6 percent didn’t know or weren’t sure. Worse, the survey suggested that fiduciary awareness is steadily decreasing over time. In 2011, 61 percent of interviewees correctly identified themselves as fiduciaries; by 2014, the percentage had dropped to 58 percent; and now we are at a low of 45 percent.
Despite the need for fiduciary education made so painfully clear by the study, only about two-thirds of the plans surveyed offered any fiduciary training at all. And of those respondents who were offered fiduciary training, about 50 percent reported that the training program was not comprehensive. The results dovetail with a 2014 survey of multiemployer trustees conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), which found that only 15 percent of funds surveyed had formal orientation, mentoring, or knowledge transfer programs for new trustees. The majority of trustees surveyed by the IFEBP opined that it takes 3 to 5 years to develop a competent trustee, and 93 percent found the trustee role more challenging than in the past.
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