Registration Types

CEFEX serves various types of organizations:

Investment Steward
A person or organization which has the legal responsibility for managing investment decisions (trustees and investment committee members). More Information

Investment Advisor
An organization which is responsible for providing comprehensive and continuous investment advice (including wealth managers, financial advisors, trust officers, financial consultants, investment consultants, and financial planners). More Information

Fiduciary Adviser (United States only)
In the U.S. a person or firm that renders investment advice for a fee or other compensation, direct or indirect, to IRA accounts or ERISA retirement plan participants (per the Pension Protection Act of 2006).

CEFEX registration, since it includes an annual audit, is a demonstration of compliance with the requirements of the Pension Protection Act, specifically final rule §2550.408g-1, pertaining to the furnishing of investment advice to participants and beneficiaries. This registration includes the audit of any applicable eligible investment advice arrangements, which would be listed in the scope if applicable.

The Department of Labor regulation requires that the auditor:

  1. be independent,
  2. have appropriate technical training or expertise and proficiency,
  3. make such representations in the written audit report, and
  4. present in the audit report specific findings regarding compliance with the regulation.

The DOL has stated that the selection of the auditor is a fiduciary act and therefore must be carried out in a manner consistent with the prudence requirements of ERISA section 404(a)(1), taking into account the nature and scope of the audit and the expertise and experience necessary to conduct such an audit. The audit itself does not cause an auditor to be a fiduciary under ERISA.

Investment Manager
An organization which makes investment decisions: selects the securities (eg. stocks and bonds) to implement a specific investment mandate (eg. large cap growth). More Information

Retirement Plan Service Provider
An organization which specifically provides recordkeeping and/or administration services to qualified retirement plans. More Information

Investment Support Services Provider
An organization providing support services to other Investment Fiduciaries. The definition includes organizations providing services to ERISA plans (“parties in interest”) as well as those providing consulting, custodial, investment advisory, investment management, investment brokerage, or other similar services to investment fiduciaries.

This CEFEX certification is an independent recognition of a firm's adherence to the prudent practices required to provide support to fiduciaries. It implies that a firm can demonstrate adherence to the industry's best practices, and is positioned to earn the trust of client fiduciaries. The scope of registration is a discrete list of the support services provided, including identification of where fiduciary responsibility is assumed, if applicable.

The Prudent Practices for Investment Support Services align directly with the fiduciary responsibilities detailed in the Handbooks Prudent Practices for Investment Advisors and Prudent Practices for Investment Stewards.

Please click here to view the Prudent Practices for Investment Support Services.

Depending on the candidate, the services which may be assessed in this certification program are:

  • Request For Proposal (RFP) processes to select other Investment Service Providers
  • Due diligence on other Investment Service Providers
  • Preparation of Investment Policy Statements
  • Asset allocation studies
  • Due diligence on Investment Managers
  • Implementation of liability protections that operate in the form of “Safe Harbors”, such as: selection of “Investment Managers”, 404(c), QDIA, Fiduciary Adviser, 408(b)(2)
  • Analysis of fees, compensation, affiliations and conflicts of interest of other Investment Service Providers
  • Monitoring of other Investment Service Providers regarding fulfillment of contract terms or opportunities for improvement
  • Preparation of investment performance reports
  • Investment performance analysis
  • Provision of advice regarding investment strategies and tactics
  • Conducting fiduciary reviews or assessments

At the outset, the candidate identifies which of the above services are to be assessed, and whether or not fiduciary responsibility is assumed.