No more late nights worrying about your workplace retirement plan.

Learn more:


Do you know what revenue-sharing is and if it exists in your plan


Did you hire a fiduciary or a broker for your 401(K)


Am I the Employee Fiduciary to my plan


Is it time to transform your target-date offering


What is my Fiduciary responsibility as a plan sponsor


Workplace Financial wellness, do you offer it

Understanding Your Business NEEDS


At Ashton Thomas, we know every company has specific priorities and objectives for its retirement plan. But some concerns are universal. Such as, you don’t have a lot of time to think about—much less manage—your retirement benefit plan. You don’t know all the legalities behind being “a plan sponsor” by offering a retirement plan to employees, or how regulatory authorities view your responsibilities. You don’t know how much it really costs, or whether or not the underlying investments offered are really sound or managed well.

That’s where we come in. We have a team committed to helping you provide retirement benefits for yourself and your employees in the most efficient and economical way possible. We know that every plan needs to be properly structured and clearly focused on specific outcomes. We take a “team” approach to pursue desired results, educate and deliver professional advice, keep abreast of today’s changing economic and legislative environment, and provide ongoing plan monitoring and service.

For more in-depth information regarding RIAs download this document

How FIT Is Your 401(k) Plan?


As an employer your fiduciary duties are continuously evolving. Ashton Thomas offers guidance and materials that can help navigate the ever-changing fiduciary challenges presented to workplace retirement plan sponsors. To help you meet these challenges, our fiduciary guide, fiduciary checklist, along with other materials, provide high-quality education that reflects the latest thinking in this area.

For more in-depth information regarding RIAs download this document


Your Fiduciary GUIDE

Helping employers understand their fiduciary duties.

Fiduciary duties and responsibilities are a growing responsibility for employers and Ashton Thomas is here to help you meet these challenges. We are committed to providing high quality education that reflects the latest and best thinking in this area.



Many individuals involved in running the company 401(k) or other retirement plan are not fiduciaries under ERISA (The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974), such as the people who handle the day-to-day activities but do not exercise discretion. A person will generally be considered a fiduciary only to the extent the person applies discretionary authority or control over plan management or administration.


Basic ERISA Fiduciary Duties


ERISA requires that fiduciaries act solely in the interest of plan participants and beneficiaries, for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to them, and that participants pay only reasonable plan expenses. “Prudence” is the cornerstone of a fiduciary’s duty under ERISA and the test for evaluating a fiduciary’s prudence is whether the fiduciary arrived at his or her decision by way of a diligent investigatory process.


Overseeing Investments

Most plans are set up to allow participants to decide how to invest their plan accounts. Nonetheless, plan fiduciaries do have responsibility for choosing the investment options that will be made available to participants. Some decide to appoint an investment committee responsible for selection and oversight, or hire an investment adviser to provide professional advice, or outsource decision-making authority to an investment manager.


Overseeing Service Providers

As an ERISA fiduciary, there are a wide range of potential service providers you may need to employ to properly operate your plan. You should consider your plan’s specific needs in light of the resources internally available to determine what kinds of service providers you should seek to hire.


Helping Participants

Required participant communications and disclosures are the responsibility of the plan and are intended to ensure that participants have been informed of their rights and obligations under the plan. These include periodic benefit statements, distribution of the Summary Plan Description and the Summary of Material Modifications, Black-Out Notices, and 404a-5 participant disclosure notices.

You may choose to offer a matching contribution (or not) as well as develop specific eligibility criteria fitting your workforce. You can also choose whether to provide participant education or investment advice (or not).


Plan Administrator Basics

It is important that you follow the Internal Revenue Code rules that apply to your retirement plan. Those rules require that you have a written plan document, which is formally adopted by your company, and kept up-to-date.


Fiduciary Liability

401(k) plans have increased pressure and scrutiny on their performance due to ERISA-based litigation challenging plan fees and the selection of investments offered in the plans, and more employee plaintiffs collectively bringing suit and winning awards. ERISA can impose personal liability on fiduciaries for losses caused by fiduciary breaches.


DOL Audit

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has more than 300 investigators in 10 regional offices across the country who focus on ERISA plans. The DOL has broad powers to subpoena records and compel personnel to testify. The DOL can bring suit in federal court as well, which can include claims to recover monetary losses or disgorge profits, and for civil penalties and injunctive relief.



Subject to certain exemptions, ERISA imposes mandatory bonding requirements. If you are the plan fiduciary, you are responsible for ensuring that these bonding requirements are met both for yourself and for any non-exempt service provider who handles plan funds. Because the bond (often called a fidelity bond) is to protect the plan, the plan may pay for the bond costs.


Fiduciary Insurance

Unlike fidelity bonding, fiduciary insurance is not required. It is often advisable, however, because ERISA can impose personal liability on fiduciaries for losses caused by fiduciary breaches. Many insurance policies (e.g., Director and Officer’s or Employment Practices Liability Insurance) specifically exclude coverage for ERISA fiduciary claims, so it is important to review your insurance coverage to make sure you are covered by a fiduciary rider or a separate policy.

Your Fiduciary CHECKLIST

Assessing the risks employers face as a fiduciary.

There are risks involved with offering an employee retirement plan. At Ashton Thomas, we know that knowledge is power, and hiring the right experienced and qualified team members is key to mitigating risk. Unless you put the right team in place, you will be 100% responsible for every part of your retirement plan, from the investments chosen to the record-keeping to the auditing.

We’ve developed this scorecard to help make you aware of the risks and arm you with information. The Ashton Thomas team exists to help employers meet their fiduciary responsibilities in an easy-to-manage way. We go through an extensive checklist—much longer than this score card—to help ensure that your fiduciary risk is spread among qualified parties.

For more in-depth information regarding RIAs download this document

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Fiduciary Safeguards

In order to provide you with the fiduciary safeguards you need to support your workplace retirement plan goals, Ashton Thomas delivers independent and innovative fiduciary services to employers. Powered by an experienced team, we can help put your complete fiduciary team in place, and provide investment management advice on selection, monitoring and reporting. With today’s regulatory environment trending more sharply than ever toward increased fiduciary scrutiny and accountability, it has never been more important to address your retirement plan. Let us guide you through the ever-increasing complexities of the retirement plan business landscape.

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Standard of Care

At Ashton Thomas, we are fiduciaries as that term is defined in the amendments made to the ERISA Act of 1974. An Ashton Thomas wealth advisor is committed to the highest standard of care for you, your organization and your plan participants. As your central point of contact, your wealth advisor acts as your quarterback to ensure all moving pieces and involved parties are aligned.

We bring the resources, education, alliances and consulting services that your firm needs to service participant-directed retirement plans. This includes 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), 457(f), ESOP, cash balance, nonqualified deferred compensation and other executive benefit plans. Our retirement plan blueprint provides a complete suite of materials and investment analysis so you can focus on your business and employees.

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Communication and Integration with Employees

As a plan sponsor, you are tasked with dealing with many working parts and moving pieces. Ashton Thomas helps integrate and build a successful retirement plan that meets your company’s needs, yet is also appreciated and valued by employees at every level. Ashton Thomas helps you create a successful retirement plan that integrates and maintains a balance of cost, performance and service, and helps you with the communications needed to reach your company’s multiple levels of stakeholders.

What Plan Fits Your Needs?

Whether you’re starting your very first employee retirement plan, or you want to make sure you have the right type of plan in place, Ashton Thomas can help. Here are some basics about the types of retirement plans that we can help you build and manage. We can meet with you personally to help determine the plan that best meets your firm’s objectives.

What Plan Fits YOUR Needs?


The majority of organizations offer 401(k) or similar plans. You can choose from flexible plan features, such as allowing contributions into traditional tax-deferred or Roth after-tax accounts. You can determine vesting requirements–or whether or not you will match employee amounts deposited and at what level. We will help you design and implement the plan in both your company’s and your employees’ best interests.

What Plan Fits YOUR Needs?


Depending on the size of your firm and its structure, a different sort of retirement plan may be a better choice. For small firms, professional partnerships or those with a handful of key people, certain types of defined benefit plans may provide your team members with a fixed benefit at retirement while allowing much higher yearly contributions than the top limits allowed in 401(k) plans.

What Plan Fits YOUR Needs?


Whether you have an S corp, or very large corporation, you may choose to offer your employees an ownership interest in your company. Ashton Thomas can help you analyze the benefits versus the many requirements involved with establishing and managing them to determine if an ESOP is right for your corporation.

What Plan Fits YOUR Needs?


Nonqualified deferred compensation plans (NQDC)s, can be offered in addition to 401(k) or other qualified plans, allowing key people an increased retirement benefit, thereby helping you recruit and retain the most talented executives. The plans are available to only a select group of highly-compensated employees, and they offer tax advantages and no government paperwork. They allow executives to accumulate a larger asset base for retirement than traditional plans because they’re not subject to annual contribution limits.

The Ashton Thomas PROCESS


An important part of your Retirement Plan Blueprint is the Ashton Thomas investment selection and monitoring process. We utilize a strict set of standards and a systematic process for investment selection and monitoring, all built on a diversified investment platform of carefully monitored, cost-efficient funds selected from thousands of available options. We are an independent firm, free from any affiliation with any particular family of funds. Advisory fees are fully transparent for the protection of both employers and plan participants.

The Ashton Thomas PROCESS


The final investment menu is composed of both passive (Index) funds, as well as actively-managed funds that have consistently outperformed peer group funds with similar objectives. Steady, superior performance, regardless the size or pedigree of the fund company, is what we seek for plan participants, with special attention paid to assuring participants pay the lowest possible cost. The performance of the funds selected is monitored quarterly to assure that underperforming funds are removed and replaced, so that the best possible fund line-up is continuously offered to plan participants.

Workplace Retirement Plan BLUEPRINT

A guide to fees, investments and your fiduciary responsibility

Ashton Thomas designs an overarching plan for employers that we call our “Workplace Retirement Plan Blueprint.” The Workplace Retirement Plan Blueprint serves to outline the criteria for selecting and monitoring the various providers and investment options, and is an easy-to-follow guide to best-practice principles so you can confidently take the right steps forward. It provides the strategy, tactics and advice you need as an employer to help you take your business to the next level—one step at a time.