FidGUIDE provides oversight, reassurance for business owners navigating 401(k) plans

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Hinds

Scott Hinds and Stephanie Wood have seen the challenges businesses face with their 401(k) plans, from the risks and complexities in such plans to the time needed to oversee them.

“Nobody prepares business owners for what they are stepping into when offering this program,” said Hinds, noting there has also been a gap between traditional providers and true fiduciary support.

In response, Hinds and Wood partnered to launch FidGUIDE Fiduciary Services, which provides retirement plan oversight to companies, with a focus on accountability and protection.

The firm recently opened an office at 359 Washington St. in East Rochester.

FidGUIDE works with businesses by managing their 401(k) service providers — including payroll providers, accountants and attorneys — and providing protection from risks associated with the plans.

Wood

As a company’s dedicated named fiduciary, FidGUIDE assumes the maximum responsibility for that company’s retirement plan compliance, administration and investment oversight, navigating the complexities of regulations related to Employment Retirement Security Act of 1974.

Hinds, FidGUIDE’s chief operations officer, likens it to a CEO overseeing a company’s operations.

“We provide daily professional management to reduce fiduciary risk and streamline a plan’s administration,” he said, adding the comprehensive, proactive approach benefits a company and the plan participants, often at a reduced cost.

With its technological capabilities, the business can serve companies across the country, but will initially focus on small- to mid-sized companies located in Rochester and across Western New York, said Wood, who serves as chief financial officer.

The experience of FidGUIDE’s leaders can be an asset for companies looking to do business with the firm, she said.

Wood is a certified public accountant, certified internal auditor and certified fraud examiner, with more than 12 years of public accounting experience.

FidGUIDE’s office in East Rochester, N.Y. (Photo provided by FidGUIDE)

Hinds has over 20 years of experience in financial services, where much of that time was spent focused on workplace plan management at companies such as Fidelity, Paychex and Morgan Stanley.

Hinds and Wood found that common mistakes business make with their 401 (k) plans include offering too many options and too complex plans that can be hard for employees to navigate, oftentimes with out-of-date features and options.

Businesses are also unaware of their fiduciary duties with the plans and have no centralized experience, often rubber-stamping forms without careful review, which can increase the risk of an audit.

Hinds said firms such as FidGUIDE, which is a 402(a) named fiduciary, are gaining traction as businesses recognize the need for specialized expertise and maximum liability protection.


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Another benefit for businesses is that FidGUIDE often acts as a catalyst for benchmarking existing provider fees and services, which ensures a plan remains cost-effective and aligned with the company’s goals, he explained.

With Social Security strained and more responsibility being placed on the shoulders of individual savers, having an efficient and optimized retirement plan in place is essential, Hinds said, noting a strong plan can also serve as a tool for recruiting and retainment efforts.

FidGUIDE is also focused on partnering with existing service providers to enhance participant education, ensuring employees understand and benefit from their plan.

The company is hosting a free public webinar with Barclay Damon’s ERISA specialist on May 22. Information on the event can be found at Registration (gotowebinar.com).

Hinds said FidGUIDE would hold more informational sessions for the public in the future, noting the importance of education when it comes to retirement planning.

“We believe in making information accessible,” he said.

[email protected] / (585) 653-4021

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