Eliot Spitzer, the New York state attorney general (below), has brought big companies to heel. But his probes will have consequences for little guys, too. That's because his investigations have underscored the idea that employers have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that employees are not overcharged for benefits. If your 401(k) provider or insurance company overcharges your workers, you may be liable.
This news has set the staid benefits-administration world abuzz. Robert Dolan, CEO of Conrad Siegel Actuaries, a benefits administrator in Harrisburg, Pa., has advised clients to ask health care providers what fees, commission structures, and overrides (fees insurers pay to cover brokers' T&E) are associated with their plans.
As for your 401(k) vendor, Norm Riley of the Cleveland office of Palmer & Cay, a benefits consultancy, recommends that you put your adviser services out to bid frequently. Setting up a committee of managers and employees to ratify benefits decisions is also a good idea.