ANB Introduces ANBTrust, a Unique Discretionary Trustee Service for Retirement Plans: ANBTrust Significantly Reduces Plan Sponsors' Fiduciary Risk and Liability

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The American National Bank of Texas (ANB), one of the oldest and largest community banks in Texas, has rolled out a comprehensive trustee oversight program, ANBTrust, that will significantly reduce fiduciary risk and liability associated with managing a defined contribution, ESOP or defined benefit plan. This innovative new service is offered through ANB's Trust Division.

Fortunately, fiduciaries can obtain assistance in satisfying their duties, in part by shifting certain responsibilities to third parties and in part by engaging experts to help them meet their obligations. ANB's full service discretionary trustee services can materially assist fiduciaries in meeting ERISA's requirements.

    "No other trustee or fiduciary service available today provides this level of fiduciary service and protection," said Kathy Howe, executive vice president of American National Bank of Texas. "Many fiduciaries are exposed to risks, liabilities, and responsibilities for which they are untrained and unprepared. In many cases plan sponsors are simply unaware of, or greatly underestimate, their potential risks and liabilities. Our turnkey service helps to insulate the company executives and human resources employees from those risks to a greater degree than ever before."

Howe and her team spent two years assessing risk, putting agreements into place, developing the oversight process, and testing the service. The result is a trustee and fiduciary program that provides the most comprehensive level of service and protection for plan sponsors offered in the qualified plan marketplace. When the ANBTrust service is engaged, the Trust Division serves as named trustee, named fiduciary and named plan administrator. Through ANBTrust, the Trust Retirement Committee takes on much of the plan sponsors oversight duties which allows them to focus on their core business instead of retirement committees and plan oversight. ANBTrust focuses on the fiduciary responsibility to act for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to the participants and beneficiaries, to engage in a prudent process when fulfilling those duties, and to select and monitor the investments and service providers for the plan.

"Individuals responsible for administering and investing retirement plans bear significant responsibilities under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)," said Bruce Ashton, attorney, with Reish Luftman Reicher & Cohen, and author of a white paper evaluating ANB's retirement services. Noting that fiduciary duties under ERISA meet the highest legal standards, Ashton said, "Fortunately, fiduciaries can obtain assistance in satisfying their duties, in part by shifting certain responsibilities to third parties and in part by engaging experts to help them meet their obligations. ANB's full service discretionary trustee services can materially assist fiduciaries in meeting ERISA's requirements."

Unlike other trustee services that mainly offer directed trustee services, recordkeeping and investment platform/product advice, ANBTrust offers a true turnkey alternative for maximizing full service and minimizing liability. When the ANBTrust is engaged, ANB signs the plan document as trustee and becomes the plan's named fiduciary and plan administrator, in large part transferring the responsibilities and risks from the plan sponsor to ANB. The ANBTrust committee is unbiased and objective, it monitors service providers to the plan but do not act as record keeper or TPA, investment platform provider or investment advisor.

"The responsibilities and requirements placed on fiduciaries making decisions about the operation of an employer sponsored plan and the management and oversight of that plan's assets can be daunting to the average business person and expensive for medium to large companies," said Howe. "For plan sponsors faced with these responsibilities, in addition to running their company, finding the time to learn about the management of a retirement plan can be a burdensome task. Most plan sponsors have had little training in fiduciary governance, much less analyzing investments or ERISA compliance. That's where we come in."

As named trustee, named plan administrator and named fiduciary, ANBTrust provides the retirement oversight committee and shoulders responsibilities such as plan operation, investment selection, and enrollment. As the named fiduciary, ANB exercises discretionary control over the plan's management and disposition of the plan's assets. As the named plan administrator, ANB selects and monitors third party providers such as the third party administrator (TPA) or recordkeeping firm, investment provider/platform, and registered investment advisor firm. Working closely with the TPA the ANBTrust provides record keeping oversight thereby determines eligibility, offers advice on rights and options, rules on claims, directs benefit distribution, and executes reports for IRS, DOL, PBGC and participants.

The plan sponsor or business owner maintains responsibility for annual review and approval of the ANBTrust at their board level, as well as ensuring timely submission of contributions and providing accurate census information.

Bruce Ashton and Debra Davis of the Reish Luftman Reicher & Cohen Law Firm prepared an evaluation of the full service discretionary trustee services offered by American National Bank of Texas' Trust Division in the form of a white paper. The white paper is available for review on the ANBTrust website at http://www.anbtrust.com.

ANB expects to be monitoring hundreds of retirement plans by the end of 2008.

The ANB Trust Division is headquartered in Rockwall, Texas. Visit ANBTrust on the Web at http://www.anbtrust.com.

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Aimee Rockwood
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