The continuing success of building my law practice is directly attributable to my work in social media. My articles, newsletters, and the blog that you are reading is the major reason I have been able to continue to grow my retirement plan practice on a national level. The idea that social media would help build my practice was nothing new. I was trying to do the same at the law firm that I worked at for a couple of years. I tried pushing the idea that a blog, LinkedIn discussions, and articles would be able to raise my profile and client base with very little cost.
Unfortunately, I worked in a bureaucracy and a managing attorney who was more interested in staying in power than getting anything done. Of course to counter my interest in social media, Lois decided to develop a social media committee. The committee wouldn’t include the two associates that were interested in social media (I was one of the two), but the technology manager that wasn’t a lawyer and two partners that had no interest in pushing social media. It seemed tome that whenever Lois didn’t want something done, she created a committee for it. The role of the committee was to not get anything done, it was just to say there was a committee for it. Months later, I asked the technology manager in a line stolen from The Outlaw Josey Wales: “are you guys doing anything about social media or are you just whistling Dixie?” Almost four year later, they’re still whistling Dixie.
When it comes to a retirement plan sponsor, starting committees to manage their retirement plan is a good idea. But if the committee never meets and never gets anything done, it doesn’t do what it was supposed to do. What it’s supposed to do is help manage the plan. If a plan sponsor puts a process in place to manage the plan, the process isn’t enough. Completing the process is. It’s nice to have an apparatus in place, but if it’s not used, it’s just window dressing and window dressing doesn’t help the plan sponsor in any defense against claims they breached their fiduciary duty.
It’s incumbent on a plan sponsor to develop a process in place to manage the plan and to actually implement the process. Some will say that a plan sponsor that creates a process that it never implements is worse off than the plan sponsor who never had a process. I don’t know about that, but a committee that never meets or never implements anything for the plan is just another feather in a plaintiff’s case against any plan sponsor that don’t do their job.
Being a plan sponsor is about a process and not a rate of return, but plan sponsors need to actually implement and follow the process that they created.