A fiduciary is anyone who makes decisions for the plan, causes someone to make a decision about the plan, or, in some cases, provides advice to someone making decisions about the plan. Put differently, it is anyone who exercises control over plan assets, directly or indirectly. Any person (or any group of people) can be a fiduciary. Most commonly, it is a manager, a committee of management and/or employees, a bank trust department, or an ESOP professional.
Are plan advisers fiduciaries?
Normally, plan advisers are not fiduciaries: the plan’s attorneys, appraisers, and other advisors are simply providing advice that someone else is ultimately acting upon. They can, however, become fiduciaries by making decisions, rather than recommendations, for the plan. Investment advisers who buy and sell plan assets, for example, would often be fiduciaries, unless they simply make recommendations on investment choices.
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