ESOP Trustee

We provide independent trustee, fiduciary and investment management services for qualified retirement plans including Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). This service is also frequently referred to as an ERISA fiduciary, ESOP fiduciary, ESOP trustee, ESOP Independent fiduciary, ERISA trustee and Expert Witness for these services.


ESOP Trustee

An independent trustee for ESOPs is the principal fiduciary decision maker for an ESOP purchase (from founder/owners) or sale transaction (to strategic buyer or private equity, etc.).  The trustee also administers the trust post-transaction in charge of annual valuation, custody and shareholder meeting voting.

Independent Fiduciary

An independent fiduciary can be appointed to a qualified retirement plan including ESOPs in order to carry out the decisions listed under ESOP Trustee.  This allows the company as plan sponsor to maintain internal trustees but have the benefit of a qualified, experienced professional handle various discretionary duties and direct the trustee(s).

Retirement Plan Trustee

For any qualified retirement plan where a trustee is required, Fiduciary Services, Inc. can fill the role and carry out the trustee duties as prescribed by ERISA and the subject plan.  Fiduciary Services, Inc. as a registered investment advisor can manage investments and select appropriate portfolios for defined contribution as well as defined benefit plans.

Fiduciary Services provides superior skill and expertise

Fiduciary Services provides superior skill and expertise where an independent trustee, fiduciary or investment manager is needed to make evaluations and final decisions on behalf of retirement plans, including those plans with company stock. In the case of ESOPs, the need is especially acute where capital changes or ownership transitions are being anticipated at the company that will affect the plan participants.



The independent trustee, fiduciary is usually brought in to make determinations on behalf of the plan participants that the internal plan trustee is not comfortable making. This is due either to the need to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest in the case of the plan trustee, who may also be an officer/director or shareholder of the company, or in some cases due to the need for a higher level of expertise on the part of the current trustee.

Why Us?

In recent years we have all read and heard news about a proliferation of employee retirement plan litigation leveling charges against internal trustees, plan committees as well as a company's officers and directors. These law suits and regulatory actions allege conflicts of interest and failure to take appropriate actions against these parties. Conclusions coming out of these cases make it clear that when important fiduciary decisions on behalf of plan participants need to be made, an independent fiduciary can be a critical element to avoid liability for those parties.

“Fiduciary Services, Inc is always striving to provide superior skill and expertise

President, Investment Counsel

Frequently Asked Questions

When a company executive or significant shareholder, who is also a current trustee or fiduciary of a retirement plan, is considering a capital change that affects the shares of stock in the ESOP or other qualified plan then an independent fiduciary is a critical consideration. Common examples of such capital changes are purchases or sale of company stock from or to a plan.

The independent trustee, fiduciary can protect the current ESOP fiduciary by taking on the role of the decision maker. This entry of an independent trustee or fiduciary provides a safe harbor to the executive from violations of the federal law standard business judgment rule, conflicts of interest, prohibited transactions and/or charges of uninformed decision-making.

Then, after the review and decision is made by the independent fiduciary, the executive can resume their role as trustee or fiduciary. This gives necessary protection to current plan fiduciaries who are also company executives without requiring the intervention and long term added expense of a permanent trustee/fiduciary replacement.


President, Investment Counsel

Phone: (415) 482-9513
Mobile: (310) 968-7022
Fax: (415) 276-1736

[email protected]