Advisors > Company Directors, Governance > Internal Trustee Advisory Services

Howard Kaplan

Name: Howard Kaplan
Company: Kaplan Fiduciary
Title: Founder

p: 404-308-0330
265 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
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Howard Kaplan leads Kaplan Fiduciary Group, a firm focused on improving fiduciary performance by boards and management of ESOP companies and ESOP fiduciaries.  He has more than 25 years in the ERISA fiduciary and trust banking industry, where over the years he developed industry leading expertise in fiduciary services for employee stock ownership and qualified retirement plans. Before Kaplan Fiduciary Group, Kaplan served over 20 years at several leading ESOP trust companies and today, he frequently speaks on trustee and fiduciary subjects at the industry associations meetings.


Accredited Investment Fiduciary Auditor designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Senior Leadership and Strategic Impact Program at the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

CRSPTM Designation after completing Employee Benefits Plan Courses, Cannon Trust School

B. S. Business Administration/Finance and Marketing, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL


Memberships and Affiliations

  • The ESOP Association (TEA): Interdisciplinary Committee on Fiduciary Issues, Legislative and Regulatory Committee, Ownership Culture Committee and the Valuation and Appraisal Committee
  • Employee-Owned S Corporations of America* (ESCA)                                                                            
  • The National Center for Employee Ownership* (NCEO)                                                                           
  • American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA)                                                           
  • American Bankers Association (ABA)                                                                                                           
  • Foundation for Fiduciary Studies (now FI360)
  • Society of Professional Asset-Managers & Record Keepers (SPARK)
  • Society of Certified Retirement Plan Specialists (CRPS)                               
  • Cannon Financial InstituteTrust School
Engagements and Presentations

As Expert Witness

  • Provided report supporting ESOP trustee’s claim of fiduciary breach against fiduciary (plaintiff).
  • Provided report on fiduciary’s decision to engage in a large ESOP transaction (defendant).
  • Provided report and deposition regarding trustee’s decision to divest employer stock (defendant).
  • Provided report supporting ESOP Trustee’s fiduciary process in an ESOP transaction (defendant).

As Representative of the Trustee/ Independent Fiduciary to:

Served over 100 ESOPs, including:
  • Several engineering/construction 100% ESOP transactions.
  • A minority-owned ESOP of a large privately-held maritime company
  • A U.S. Department of defense contractor ESOP.
  • A newly formed ESOP to purchase 100% of a nationally recognized private shoe company.
  • Monitor the participant voting process for a publicly-traded apparel company.
  • To a U.S. Government contractor sale of an 88% ESOP-owned company.
  • A large professional employer organization’s multiple-employer 401(k) plans.
  • A large automobile club and insurance company’s 401(k) plan’s stable value portfolio.
  • A company’s 401(k) plan in which prior fiduciaries were enjoined from a fiduciary role, pursuant to a Department of Labor agreement.
  • A private 100% ESOP-owned auto industry supplier.
  • A sale of an ESOP-owned construction company and subsequent termination and distribution of the plan.
  • Several minority-owned ESOP insurance companies.
  • Monitor the sale of an insurance agency to a publicly-traded company.      
  • A minority-owned ESOP company engaged in retail convenience grocery and gasoline sales
  • Served over 100 ESOPs

Publications, Presentations and Lectures

“Valuation and Communications” moderator and co-presenter at the Annual ESOP Association meeting, Washington, DC, May 2017

“Is an ESOP Right for Your Engineering Firm”, co-presented at the American Counsel of Engineering Companies Annual Conference, Washington, DC April 2017

“A Year in the Life of an ESOP Trustee”, moderator and co-presenter at the National ESOP Association Conference, Las Vegas, NV, November 2016

 “Is an ESOP Right for You?” co-presented at the American Counsel of Engineering Companies Annual Conference, Hawaii, October 2014

“Case Study on Expanding Corporate Governance: Appvion” moderator and co-presenter at the NCEO Conference, April 2104

“ESOPs and B Corps” co-presented at the ESOP Association Trade Conference, November 2012

 “Appointing an Institutional Trustee – Best Practices*” co-presented at the South ESOP Conference, October 2012

“Duties of an ESOP Trustee” co-presented at the Annual ESOP Association Conference, May 2012

“ESOP Valuation Basics” co-presented at the NCEO Conference, April 2012

“Internal vs. External Trustee – Crossfire”, co-presented at the ESOP Association Conference, November 2011

 “Who Should Act as Your ESOP Trustee?” co-presented at the NCEO Annual Conference, April 2011

“Uses of Company Stock in Qualified Plans” co-presented at the ASPPA Benefits Conference of the South, May 2010

Contributing Author of ESOP Association Fiduciary Handbook Chapter entitled “The Decision to Terminate an ESOP,” Released 2010

Co-Editor of ESOP Association Fiduciary Handbook, Released 2010

“Employee Participation in Formal Governance:  Ideas and Practices” co-presented at the ESOP Association Trade Conference, November 2009

Featured Speaker at the ESOP Association Annual Board of Directors of ESOP Companies Retreat, September 2009

“Trustee’s Annual ESOP Checklist” co-presented at the ESOP Association Conference, May 2009

“Internal vs. External ESOP Trustee: Cross-fire” co-presented at the ESOP Association Conference, November 2008

“Internal vs. External ESOP Trustee: Overview and Potential Conflicts” co-presented at the ESOP Association Conference, November 2007

“Company Stock: From Tittle to DeFelice” presented at Reliance Trust Advisor Symposium, August 2007

“Governance and Fiduciary Overview: Potential Conflicts” co-presented at the ESOP Association Conference, May 2007

“The New Investment Advisor Paradigm; Concept of Fiduciary ‘Outsourcing’” co-presented at the FEI Employee Benefits Group Meetings, December 2006

“Fiduciary Responsibility; A Corporate Trustee’s Perspective” presented at the DAC Conference, April 2003

Lectured on various course curricula at the Cannon Institute’s Employee Benefits Schools primarily focused on trust, fiduciary, investment and administrative topics relating to qualified retirement plans, 1992 to 1996.







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