Resources to help fiduciaries

As a retirement plan professional, you’re also a plan fiduciary under ERISA. John Hancock supports your role and efforts with an extensive collection of fiduciary resources—all to help you make more prudent decisions. Great outcomes start with fiduciary skill. John Hancock can help.

Learn the fiduciary basics

You can become a fiduciary under ERISA either by serving in a fiduciary function or by being designated as the “named fiduciary” in the plan document. Below are your basic duties, as prescribed under ERISA.

  • Duty to act for the “exclusive purpose” of providing benefits and paying the “reasonable expenses” of the plan

  • Duty to act in accordance with the plan document


  • Duty to avoid engaging in prohibited transactions

  • Duty to disclose required information to employees 

  • Duty to diversify plan investments

  • Duty to monitor the performance of service providers and investment options

Fiduciary responsibility—an employer’s guide

A valuable resource for plan sponsors, financial professionals, and consultants, this guide covers ERISA basics, fiduciary responsibilities, and ways to limit exposure.

  • Webinar

    On demand: Understanding the roles and responsibilities of a plan fiduciary

    Join our experts as they cover  the fundamentals of ERISA, the fiduciary duties it creates for plan professionals, and strategies for navigating through the fast-changing regulatory environment.

    See Chris’s and Ted’s answers to attendees’ fiduciary questions
  • Featuring: 

    Chris Frank
    Head of Defined Contribution Consulting

  • Featuring:

    Edward Pirrera, Esq.
    ERISA Consultant 

Refine your fiduciary practices 

While it’s important to understand the ERISA framework, the hallmark of a successful fiduciary is in leveraging the regulations to design and maintain a more effective plan. There are four hands-on responsibilities that plan fiduciaries must be adept at:

  • Management of plan operations


  • Service provider selection and monitoring

  • Investment selection and monitoring

  • Participant communication

  • Webinar

    Live and archived: John Hancock’s legislative and regulatory updates

    Our quarterly webinar series focusing on the legal and rule changes that affect retirement plan strategy, management, and administration is broadcast live online (with Q&A sessions) with past sessions available on demand.

  • Featuring: 

    Chris Frank
    Head of Defined Contribution Consulting

  • Featuring:

    Tami Guimelli
    Assistant Vice President and Assistant General Counsel

Focus on cybersecurity

Keeping participants’ privacy and accounts safe is a key fiduciary duty. That’s why we make cybersecurity a key aspect of the fiduciary support we provide.

  • The protection of participants’ accounts and data are fiduciary duties under ERISA

  • These duties call for a cybersecurity management plan—as well as a thorough understanding of this plan and how it’s executed1

  • Recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor emphasizes the importance fiduciaries must place on cybersecurity2

  • Webinar

    On demand: building layers of cybersecurity defense

    Listen in on our discussion with Thom Shola, cyber officer for John Hancock, who shares his insight on the DOL’s cybersecurity guidance, John Hancock’s multilayered security, and tips to help protect yourself, your clients, and your business.

  • Featuring: 

    Thomas Shola
    Assistant Vice President, IT Cybersecurity Officer 

Viewpoints on fiduciary responsibilities and practices

These selected articles cover fiduciary issues exclusively or include content helpful in making prudent plan decisions. 

1 “Cybersecurity Considerations for Benefit Plans,” the U.S. Department of Labor's Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, November 2016, and “Cybersecurity and your 401(k) plan fiduciary duties,”, 10/22/19. 2 "US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ANNOUNCES NEW CYBERSECURITY GUIDANCE FOR PLAN SPONSORS, PLAN FIDUCIARIES, RECORD-KEEPERS, PLAN PARTICIPANTS,", 4/14/21.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive review of fiduciary responsibilities under ERISA. It highlights key issues that plan fiduciaries must be aware of. John Hancock is not in a position to provide you with legal advice concerning your plan or your role as plan fiduciary, and the information included here should not be taken as such. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, please consult your legal counsel.