Improving Plan Operation in the Higher Education Marketplace (Private University)



Our client was a Private University with more than 2,500 account holding participants and $140 M in plan assets currently allocated among 3 different recordkeeping vendors. The University had three primary concerns it intended to correct as part of the process:

  1. Developing a formal fiduciary process for plan management and investment analysis
  2. Managing the requirements of the new 403(b) regulations in light of changes to the Internal Revenue Code and greater accountability for the plan’s sponsor to ensure regulatory compliance.
  3. Minimizing the internal and external costs of complying with new Form 5500 and audit requirements

The University hoped to achieve these goals while improving plan operation and cost structure; and with minimal disruption and full transparency to the plan’s participant population.


  • Fiduciary Plan Governance
  • Plan Document and Compliance
  • Investment Policy Statement
  • Investment Performance
  • Plan Cost
  • Plan Communication / Education

This analysis helped the University objectively evaluate the structure of the plan and the current vendors servicing the plan; enabling them to identify where current practices would present regulatory or operational gaps under the new regulations. The results of this analysis led to a process by which our firm helped establish a Board-authorized Retirement Plan Committee.

The Retirement Plan Committee, in consultation with the Multnomah Group, outlined how a successful vendor might better support the University and its participants. To ensure that the wishes of the participant population were also represented in the process, our firm facilitated focus group meetings where participants could express the features they wished to see in a new retirement solution.

Based on that feedback the Multnomah Group drafted a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) focused on the University’s specific needs. Responses were solicited from the current vendors and a solution was identified that significantly improved sponsor and participant service levels.


Consolidation to a single-vendor solution

  • Sole provider of compliance testing services
  • Sole provider of consolidated year end 5500 filing
  • Document modifications to ensure proper administration of loans, hardships, in-service withdrawals
  • Transition from Individual to Group contracts (owned by the University). These group contacts ensured that the University would have the necessary authority to act in their role as Plan Administrator under the terms of the plan document.

Expanded Participant Communication Services

  • 1200% increase in on-campus education
  • Customized employee communication materials that address the unique issues related to the plan

Expanded investment universe

  • Addition of non-proprietary investment options to augment or replace current under-performing proprietary options

Streamlined implementation process

  • Negotiation with new vendor to pay surrender fees on individual contracts subject to participant surrender charges
  • Negotiation of a group transfer of participant assets from individual contract arrangements to the new vendor

Improved costing/service structure

  • Full transparency of vendor revenues
  • Revenue offset account if vendor revenues exceed planned targets
  • Negotiated fee caps
  • Fees at risk for statement delivery, remittance processing, distribution processing, web availability times

At the conclusion of the project all of the above were achieved merely by restructuring arrangements with existing vendors. In aggregate these changes will significantly empower the University to fulfill their fiduciary and regulatory responsibilities as plan sponsors.

To find out how the Multnomah Group can help your organization achieve its goals please feel free to contact one of our consultants.

† Information herein is provided “as is” for general informational purposes only. We do not represent, guarantee, or provide any warranties (express or implied) regarding the completeness, accuracy, or currency of information or its suitability for any particular purpose. Receipt of information herein does not create an adviser-client relationship between Multnomah Group and you. Neither Multnomah Group nor any of our advisory affiliates provide tax or legal advice or opinions. You should consult with your own tax or legal adviser for advice about your specific situation.