401khelpcenter.com Logo

COLLECTED WISDOM™ on Fiduciary Related News and Intelligence

These are general fiduciary news items. Other topical areas you may find of interest that are not fully covered here include ERISA 404(c) Compliance and Fiduciary Duty, 401k Investment Committees, Fiduciary Responsibility and Liability Issues, and DOL's Final Fiduciary Rule and Best Interests Contract Requirement.

RSS feed of this page is available:

To subscribe to our free weekly newsletter, enter your email address below then click the "Join" button.

Email Address:

NOTE: WE DO NOT SELL YOUR DATA OR EMAIL ADDRESS TO ANY ORGANIZATION.

    

Retention Practices: Fiduciary Records Are (Almost) Forever

Abstract: How long should fiduciary records be kept? The Court has said that although the statute of limitations for bringing an action against a plan fiduciary for an imprudent investment begins on the date of the investment, the limitation period begins anew if at any time during that period the fiduciary should have reviewed its portfolio and replaced the investment.

Source: Fiduciaryplangovernance.com, December 2017

There Are No Mulligans in Fiduciary Law

Abstract: Author writes, "Secretary Acosta's newly created loopholes, "good faith" and "willful" are inconsistent with long-standing fiduciary law, and the burden on Secretary Acosta and the department is to do their job and truly enforce the new fiduciary rule in order to carry out the department's mission."

Source: Iainsight.wordpress.com, November 2017

Fiduciary Standard Quandary: First Avoid "Harm"onization

Abstract: In the debate between suitability and fiduciary standards, reliance on disclosure may be viewed as a loophole and many see the "harm" emerging from harmonization. Reliance on more disclosure as a remedy will water down the fiduciary standard and provide weak consumer protection. The very term "harmonization" implies compromise.

Source: Fiduciarynews.com, November 2017

Fiduciary Update November 2017

Abstract: This Captrust Advisors 'Fiduciary Update' provides an update on the DOL's conflict of interest rule for other investor protections, late loan payments as taxable distribution, pension overpayments, and other fee related litigation.

Source: Captrustadvisors.com, November 2017

Labor Department Mum on Fiduciary Rule as It Awaits Review

Abstract: Top officials from the Labor Department's benefits agency were tight-lipped on the substance of the fiduciary rule delay that could come as soon as Thanksgiving.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), November 2017

Behaviors and Methodology Determine Both Suitability and Fulfilling Fiduciary Duties

Abstract: Ethical behaviors are not determined by outcomes structured within the confines of a contract. Attempts to do so only make "what is fair" and "what is ethical" esoteric. FINRA provides us all with a guideline -- if not a fair warning -- in Rule 2111 Supplementary Material.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, November 2017

Practical Fiduciary Practices

Abstract: Retirement plan committees have a host of responsibilities, most of them fiduciary. To help them fulfill their varied, and demanding, fiduciary role, advisers can turn to a number of practical strategies.

Source: Planadviser.com, October 2017

Five Dangerous Fiduciary Assumptions

Abstract: There's an old saying that when you assume...well, you know the rest. Here are five assumptions that can create real headaches for retirement plan fiduciaries.

Source: Asppa.org, October 2017

Fiduciary Rule Kill Bill Clears Hurdle

Abstract: The House Financial Services Committee gave its stamp of approval to the latest attempt to block the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule. The committee passed the Protecting Advice for Small Savers (PASS) Act Of 2017, moving it a step closer to a full vote.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, October 2017

Excessive Fee Litigation Sets Sights on Corporate Retirement Plans

Abstract: Of all the industries facing these risks, few have seen more litigation than the financial industry which has faced a barrage of lawsuits over the in-house mutual funds in their respective 401k plans. Currently, there are more than 20 different financial institutions facing lawsuits challenging these in-house 401k investments.

Source: Willistowerswatson.com, October 2017

ERISA Excess Fee Litigation: Waiting for the Deluge

Abstract: ERISA fee litigation is moving downstream to smaller plans and that this ought to be a source of worry for small plan sponsors.

Source: Fiduciaryplangovernance.com, October 2017

The Misperception of Fiduciary Risk and Active Management in DC Plans: A Legal Perspective

Abstract: In the complex and litigation-prone world DC plans occupy, it is important to underline what the real focal points for fiduciaries should be. Here are five guiding principles under ERISA that can aid fiduciaries in selecting and monitoring investment options and assessing active strategies within their plan lineups.

Source: Troweprice.com, September 2017

Maximizing Recordkeeper Relationships

Abstract: While the DOL has provided guidance on the overall responsibilities of plan sponsors, these guidelines fall short of speaking to best practices when dealing with recordkeepers. This 7-page paper aims to help plan fiduciaries maximize their recordkeeper relationships with the end goal of better retirement outcomes.

Source: Porteval.com, September 2017

Are Robo-Advisors Fiduciaries?

Abstract: This paper addresses whether robo-advisors are fiduciaries. The simple answer is yes. But that is only half of the equation. Merely labeling robo-advisors as "fiduciaries" does not signify what fiduciary standard of care they are subject to, which should be of most interest to investors and regulators and is the subject of this paper.

Source: Ssrn.com, September 2017

ESG and Fiduciary Responsibility: Complementary or at Odds?

Abstract: Running the plan and investing its assets in a way mindful of environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns is a practice some plans follow. But a recent commentary questions whether that complements -- or compromises -- fulfilling fiduciary responsibility.

Source: Asppa.org, September 2017

Fiduciaries: "Can Someone Just Tell Me What to Do?"

Abstract: Eight of ten employers say they're concerned about an increase in fiduciary litigation. And more than a quarter listed fiduciary liability and litigation as their top 401k concern. Who can blame a fiduciary for thinking, "Can someone just tell me what I have to do?"

Source: Manning-Napier.com, September 2017

Fiduciary Liability Defenses for Advisers Under ERISA

Abstract: If an investment adviser makes a recommendation to a retirement plan sponsor or investment manager, who then follows that recommendation and later challenges it as a breach of fiduciary duty, there are several types of defenses available to the adviser.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), September 2017

Avoiding Fiduciary Traps: Eight Tips for DC Plan Sponsors

Abstract: DC plan sponsors often worry about landing in hot water for doing the wrong thing. However, many fiduciary issues crop up because plan sponsors have failed to take action. Here are eight potential fiduciary traps and suggest ways to avoid them.

Source: Callan.com, September 2017

DC Plan Sponsors: Fiduciary Matters Matter

Abstract: The DOL has cut financial advisors some slack in getting ready to comply with its new fiduciary rule. But DC plan sponsors don't have the same luxury. That's because plan sponsors have been subject to ERISA. Based on the results of ABG's latest survey, many don't know it.

Source: Abglobal.com, August 2017

The Often Overlooked Fiduciary "Gotcha"

Abstract: The author wonders "why more plaintiffs' attorneys, plan sponsors and other investment fiduciaries have not fully utilized the cost-consciousness 'blueprint' that the Restatement provides in drafting pleading and addressing potential liability exposure based on alleged breaches of a fiduciary's duties of loyalty and/or prudence."

Source: Iainsight.wordpress.com, August 2017

Fiduciary Best Practices for Protecting Your Company

Abstract: Failing to follow best practices may leave a fiduciary personally liable for losses to the plan and result in removal from their duties. There are a number of actions fiduciaries can take to limit potential liability.

Source: Bsllp.com, August 2017

Winning Early Motions to Dismiss Breach of Fiduciary Claims, the Ministerial Defense

Abstract: One argument to use in seeking early dismissal of breach of fiduciary duty claims is the ministerial defense. The recent case that highlights the point is Turner v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

Source: Boomerisablog.com, August 2017

QDIAs...A Recipe for Fiduciary Protection

Abstract: A Qualified Default Investment Alternative is a provision available to 401k and 403b plans that reduces the potential personal liability of plan fiduciaries while improving the ability of participants to build toward retirement. Since a QDIA offers advantages to plan sponsor and participants alike, one might wonder what would prevent an employer from implementing one.

Source: Alliantwealth.com, August 2017

Missing Participants -- Part One

Abstract: There are widespread reports of Department of Labor audits focusing on plan procedures with respect to "missing participants." The DOL is treating the failure to adopt and follow adequate missing participant search procedures as a fiduciary breach and a possible prohibited transaction. This article reviews current rules and practice with respect to missing participants.

Source: Octoberthree.com, July 2017

Retirement Plan Fees: Top Three Questions Answered

Abstract: With retirement plan fees serving as the centerpiece of fiduciary breach lawsuits, it is no wonder that this is the leading topic of interest with retirement plan fiduciaries.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, July 2017

The Supreme Court Indirectly Stiffens a Fiduciary Breach Time Limit

Abstract: The Supreme Court appears to have barred equitable tolling under ERISA Section 413's six-year statute of repose for fiduciary breach claims, subject only to well-pled allegations and proof of fraud or concealment.

Source: Erisa-employeebenefitslitigationblog.com, July 2017

Avoiding Fiduciary Traps: Eight Tips for DC Plan Sponsors

Abstract: Defined contribution plan sponsors often worry about landing in hot water for doing the wrong thing. However, many fiduciary issues crop up because plan sponsors have failed to take action. Here, we list eight potential fiduciary traps and suggest ways to avoid them.

Source: Callan.com, July 2017

The Risk Of 3(38) Fiduciary "Flexibility"

Abstract: There are many reasons that a plan sponsor and/or a plan advisor would look to engage an investment manager under section 3(38) of ERISA. But if you invite flexibility into your 3(38) services, you should understand the risks.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, July 2017

Appointing and Monitoring a 401k Investment Manager Under ERISA

Abstract: Employee-benefit attorneys advising retirement plan sponsors frequently mention that plan fiduciaries are not liable for the acts or omissions of an appointed investment manager, and aren't obligated to invest or otherwise manage plan assets subject to their oversight. However, a recent district court decision has implications for how retirement plan sponsors should monitor their adviser.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), July 2017

Why Avoiding Conflicts of Interest Matters in the Investment Business

Abstract: In most professional settings, avoiding conflicts obviously matters. It's self-evident. Yet, in many quarters in brokerage and investment advice, it's not self-evident at all.

Source: Thefiduciaryinstitute.org, July 2017

Chipping Away - Does the DOL's Fiduciary Rule Continue to Be on the Chopping Block?

Abstract: What to many was an implementation of the fiduciary rule by the DOL that ran counter to an apparent hostility to the rule throughout various quarters of the Trump administration has now been followe‎d by a steady flow of further action that can be characterized as questioning, or maybe even indicating outright hostility to, the Rule.

Source: Dechert.com, July 2017

Simplifying Tasks and Reducing Risk Under the Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: The new DOL rule seeks to bring brokers and insurance reps to heel by establishing a stronger baseline of fiduciary protection. If they wish to continue providing advice to company retirement plans, they now will be held to a higher standard: the best interests of the client. And employers will need to monitor their activity to ensure these advisors are fully compliant.

Source: Alliantwealth.com, July 2017

The Surprising Benefits of a 3(38) Fiduciary

Abstract: A 3(38) arrangement is a way of outsourcing the burden of investment decision making -- and risk -- to a qualified expert. 3(38) investment managers are a distinct breed of fiduciaries legally required to act in their clients' best interests when it comes to choosing funds and managing assets.

Source: Captrustadvisors.com, July 2017

Why Independent Fiduciary Advisors Are in Best Position to Fulfilling the 401k Promise

Abstract: Hiring an independent investment fiduciary for a participant directed 401k plan offers both the fiduciary protection for owners/executives intended by ERISA and the unbiased advice needed by America's workers to maximize their standard of living in retirement.

Source: Brentwood401k.com, July 2017

"Apples to Apples" and Other Investment Return Issues

Abstract: Courts, plan sponsors, and investment fiduciaries in general must be able to differentiate between nominal returns, load-adjusted, and risk-adjusted returns in order to (1) know when each is appropriate, and (2) to be able to properly determine whether a fund is providing commensurate value for higher fees in order to ensure that they are properly comparing "apples to apples" in order to act in the "best interests" of a plan and its participants.

Source: Iainsight.wordpress.com, June 2017

With the Tip of a Hat, a Fund Manager Can Be an ERISA Fiduciary

Abstract: Some advisors may now find themselves unexpectedly wearing a "fiduciary hat" with respect to benefit plan clients (including individual retirement accounts). While it is expected that the scope of the final DOL fiduciary rule has limited effect for fund managers, there are certain marketing and promotional activities that could implicate the final regulation.

Source: Winstead.com, June 2017

401k Rollovers to IRAs and the DOL Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: The provision in the DOL fiduciary rule that says distribution and rollover recommendations are fiduciary advice was not changed; it was only delayed from April 10 to June 9. Therefore, any rollover recommendation on or after June 9 will be deemed fiduciary advice and will require a prudent process and an exemption from the prohibited transaction rules.

Source: Planadviser.com, June 2017

Fiduciary Reforms Will Impact Expanding HSA Market

Abstract: The DOL fiduciary rule expansion establishes ERISA fair dealing requirements in the sale and service of health savings accounts; employers have a lot of questions about what this means.

Source: Planadviser.com, June 2017

Alternate Fee Calculation/Allocation Models

Abstract: Calculating recordkeeping fees and charging them to participants is a matter that should be carefully considered by fiduciaries, especially in light of emerging methods in this area. The best model for one plan may not be the best model for another due to demographic plan differences, such as the number of small account balances.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, June 2017

The DOL's Fiduciary Rule Is Here, Are You Prepared?

Abstract: As a plan fiduciary, the goal is to deliver a top performing vendor plan to your employees with low fees and great service. How does the DOL's new fiduciary rule impact that goal and what should you do as a result? This short article outlines a few steps to take with respect to the rule.

Source: Pension-Consultants.com, June 2017

Questioning 401k Lawsuits Based on Investment Outcomes

Abstract: No one can predict the excess return relative to a benchmark (Alpha) that is usually associated with active investment management. Then it should come as no surprise that no one can predict the market (beta). Choosing investments is a subjective endeavor. So why are so many legal actions and allegations against Employer Retirement Plans Sponsored Plans based on subjective endeavors with unknown outcomes?

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, June 2017

SEC Chair Clayton's Recent Fiduciary Comments Are Revealing

Abstract: The SEC chair issued only a brief statement on his intention to work with DOL officials on reforming conflict of interest regulations, but his language is revealing.

Source: Planadviser.com, June 2017

Fiduciary Update

Abstract: This article provides an update on the DOL's conflict of interest rule expansion and compliance, deathbed beneficiary changes, required minimum distribution, and other fee related litigation.

Source: Captrustadvisors.com, May 2017

The DOL Will Not Delay Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta, threw in the towel in his effort to delay the application date of the Fiduciary Rule. Barring any additional developments, the Rule will now become applicable, as scheduled, on June 9, though certain provisions do not become applicable until January, 2018.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, May 2017

Heeding the Call of (Fiduciary) Duty

Abstract: Sometimes the "basics" get so shopworn they lose their punch, like the solemn performance of fiduciary duty and its importance to every retirement plan sponsor and nonprofit institution and their investment committees. This is a brief refresher.

Source: Vanguardinstitutionalblog.com, May 2017

Fiduciary Rule Debate Impacts State-Run Plans for Private Sector

Abstract: A new bill introduced by Senate Democrats, seeking to protect ERISA exemptions for state- and city-run retirement plans for the private sector, would likely be made redundant with the removal of the Obama-era fiduciary rules.

Source: Planadviser.com, May 2017

Courts' Interpretations of 401k Fiduciary Laws Are Changing

Abstract: It appears that laws of fiduciary prudence under ERISA are evolving. A recent district court decision, in Lorenz v. Safeway, demonstrates this point. The prudence requirement in being gauged based on the portfolio in aggregate but also on individual investment options.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), May 2017

Fidelity's Approach to DOL Fiduciary Rule Rankles Some 401k Advisers

Abstract: Their ire stems from changes that Fidelity is making to its business in relation to compliance with the DOL's fiduciary rule. Fidelity is taking on fiduciary responsibility for both plan-level and participant-level advice in some DC plans, which itself may not seem out of the ordinary since the conflict-of-interest regulation is creating a massive shift in the way retirement plan providers operate. The way Fidelity is going about it, though, is where there's tension.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), May 2017

Free Guide: "The Intelligent Fiduciary"

Abstract: Fiduciaries can't insulate themselves from being sued, but they can minimize their risk and be in a good position to defend a lawsuit if they follow good fiduciary practices. Attorney Carol Buckmann has been writing on the topic for years and has now complied some of her more popular works in this free booklet.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, May 2017

Fourth Circuit Agrees: Fiduciaries' Faulty Process for Eliminating Stock Funds Did Not Cause Plan's Losses

Abstract: This case demonstrates that the "would have" standard for showing that a plan fiduciary's breach did not cause a loss is difficult, but not impossible, to satisfy. Making a prudent choice by an inadequate process, however, is just lucky. Plan fiduciaries are on much safer ground when they establish and carefully follow a prudent process.

Source: Thomsonreuters.com, May 2017

Fiduciary Prologue to a Cross-Examination

Abstract: The fulfillment of fiduciary duties becomes apparent where there is evidence of behaviors and methodology, in "content and oversight," that improve the likelihood that the beneficiary of the asset(s) achieve their goals. When one is compelled to discover evidence of fiduciary behaviors, clues materialize in the products that were purchased, the timing of the purchases, how such products meshed and correlated with other assets, the level of compensation, and any compensation relationships if applicable.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2017

DOL Fiduciary Rule: Good for Business but Opposed by the U.S. Chamber

Abstract: The DOL's fiduciary rule is also pro-business by making it easier for 401k plan sponsors to meet their fiduciary responsibilities and lower their plan expenses. The author writes, "While I understand the COC is representing the interests of the financial services industry by opposing the Fiduciary Rule, I think their position is myopic -- they should be supporting the rule to better represent their much bigger constituency of 401k plan sponsors."

Source: Employeefiduciary.com, May 2017

Fiduciary Sudoku -- Comprehending ERISA 3(16), 3(21) & 3(38)

Abstract: Vendors who service retirement plans will use the terms 3(16), 3(21) and 3(38) to describe their service offering. The terms have often been taken for granted, and sometimes abused by service providers looking for a marketing edge. This article offers some clarification and understanding regarding the terms.

Source: Alliantwealth.com, May 2017

401k Fiduciaries: Is It Time to Hone Your Processes? (Part One)

Abstract: Last year was a signal year for ERISA fiduciary responsibility. And, no, we're not talking about the DOL conflict of interest rule. The author shares some developments on the fiduciary responsibility litigation front that may require your attention.

Source: Fiduciaryplangovernance.com, April 2017

401k Lawsuits Can Be Avoided With the Right Fiduciaries

Abstract: The complicated task of establishing a Retirement Committee or a Benefits Committee come with some basic Do's and Don't's and selecting the right fiduciaries is as important as selecting the right advisor or vendor. This article covers some tips for plan sponsors when selecting committee members.

Source: 401ktv.com, April 2017

DOL Charts a New Course for ERISA's Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: The article and chart provides a high-level summary and timeline of the applicability of the various aspects of the fiduciary rulemaking, and identifies a few discrete issues that industry participants might consider in anticipation of the June 9 applicability date.

Source: Dechert.com, April 2017

401k Plan Trustees: How Do You Monitor and Select Investments?

Abstract: The resident plan fiduciaries (the company officers and key employees who act on behalf of the sponsor as plan administrator or trustee) have a legal duty to "select and monitor" plan investments and, in the case of sponsors who have hired investment professionals, to monitor not only investment performance but also the performance of the investment professionals. So, how do you "select and monitor"?

Source: Retirementplanblog.com, April 2017

More 401k Advisers Face Litigation Risk in June Under DOL Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: A greater number of advisers and firms servicing 401k plans and their participants could be at risk of litigation in a few months' time, when implementation of some provisions of the Labor Department's fiduciary rule are set to kick in. This is due to the details of the recently finalized delay to the fiduciary rule issued last week by the Trump administration, as well as nuances of the regulation and its interplay with federal retirement law.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), April 2017

DOL Not Backing Down From Fiduciary Rule, Analysts Say

Abstract: While the Department of Labor delayed the controversial Obama-crafted fiduciary rule for 60 days, it also expressed surprising support for the regulation. The DOL clearly does not back down from the Fiduciary Rule and exemptions as a general matter.

Source: Insurancenewsnet.com, April 2017

Target-Date Funds: Can Employers Get Lost in Space?

Abstract: Target-Date Funds are as diverse as the universe. Plan sponsor fiduciaries -- who must exercise prudence and demonstrate expertise in selecting the investments that will be offered to plan participants -- must understand the unique features of their workforce as well as the features of each TDF series they consider before making their selection. Failure to do so "as an expert" can result in potential personal liability for fiduciaries.

Source: Alliantwealth.com, April 2017

DOL Releases Final Extension of Applicability Date

Abstract: On April 4, 2017, the DOL released for public inspection its final regulation extending the applicability date of the Fiduciary Rule from April 10, 2017 to June 9, 2017 as well as providing additional transition relief through the end of the year. While the final extension offers some relief, it is a mixed bag.

Source: Groom.com, April 2017

Fee Study of 525 401k Financial Advisors: Why Trump Can't Reverse Tide of Fiduciary Advice

Abstract: Following several high-profile excessive fee lawsuits, more 401k plan sponsors than ever are hiring fiduciary-grade financial advisors to lower their liability. The kicker? Their impartial advice is often cheaper than potentially-conflicted, non-fiduciary advice.

Source: Employeefiduciary.com, April 2017

Video: The 3(38) Fiduciary Service Challenge Ahead

Abstract: Dick Friedman with IRON Financial clears up confusion over the '3s.' Why 3(38), 3(21) and 3(16) services are more important than ever, and why advisors are so confused about each.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, March 2017

Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley: A Tale of Two Fiduciary 401k Business Models

Abstract: The wealth management units at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley within the past few weeks announced substantive changes to their respective 401k businesses, and while each approach shares common ground they also differ in notable ways.

Source: Pionline.com, March 2017

Plan Sponsors Want Help With DOL Fiduciary Duties

Abstract: Plan sponsors worry about participants suing over inferior investment choices or high fees. At the same time, they're anxious about the Labor Department or Internal Revenue Service finding fault with their plan design or processes. They want advisers who are experts on the intricacies of the laws governing retirement plans, as well as a partner to share the stressful liability.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Despite Uncertainty, DOL Fiduciary Rule Upends 401k Biz

Abstract: Even though its fate is unclear, the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule is upending the retirement plan adviser market, which spans the adviser spectrum from "dabblers" to defined contribution "specialists." Observers say such changes began taking root prior to the promulgation of the rule last year but are being accelerated by the DOL regulation.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Managing Critical 403(b) Issues through Proper Allocation of 3(16) and 3(21) Fiduciary Responsibility

Abstract: Service providers are demonstrating their ability to customize their fiduciary services to their customers needs and -- just as important -- to their own capacity to provide selected services where they feel they can add value. The complex nature of handling 403(b) plans make these plans uniquely suited to customized fiduciary services.

Source: Businessofbenefits.com, March 2017

Put It in Writing! Why Your 401k Plan Should Have Written Policies

Abstract: Plan fiduciaries worry not only about being a target of class action lawsuits, but also about the possibility of being selected for an IRS or Department of Labor audit. More and more fiduciaries are coming to realize that memorializing a set of carefully-thought out plan policies and following them can be their best defense in these situations.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, March 2017

As DOL Fiduciary Rule Sits on Ice, Is It Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down for Advisors?

Abstract: Whether the Department of Labor fiduciary rule continues to be delayed, eventually takes effect, or ends up being repealed, the proverbial beans have been spilled, as many advisors and their respective firms have already taken the actions needed to comply, thus proving some areas of debate true and others false.

Source: Marketstrategies.com, March 2017

Fiduciary Fee Reasonableness

Abstract: Fee reasonableness is a fundamental and widely discussed fiduciary topic. Despite the importance of the topic, the DOL hasn't given much insight or guidance as to what is considered a reasonable fee. As a result, much of the interpretation of what is and is not reasonable has come from the courts. As a fiduciary, it is important to turn to litigation for guidance, acknowledge how excessive fee allegations have evolved, and most importantly, to appropriately manage this risk in the future.

Source: Manning-Napier.com, March 2017

401k Fees -- Frequently Asked Questions by Plan Fiduciaries

Abstract: If you're a 401k fiduciary, you don't want to be in the dark about your plan fees. The potential consequences for paying excessive 401k fees are too great. This FAQ will answer some of the most common 401k fee questions.

Source: Employeefiduciary.com, March 2017

What If the DOL Wrote the Rules of Golf?

Abstract: The U.S. and British golf associations recently announced that significant changes are being proposed to make the rules of golf easier to understand, and the game less time-consuming and more fun to play. Imagine what would happen if the DOL was put in charge of writing the Rules of Golf.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2017

Five Guiding Fiduciary Principles

Abstract: Defined contribution plans find themselves in an increasingly complex and litigation-prone world. Therefore, it is important to debunk common investment misperceptions, and instead underline what the real focal points for fiduciaries should be.

Source: Troweprice.com, March 2017

A Lot of Good Come Has From the Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: Despite the news that advisers may not be legally required to provide advice that benefits their clients more than themselves (in the form of commissions and kickbacks), a lot of good come from the fiduciary rule already. There are at least four major benefits.

Source: Castlerockinvesting.com, March 2017

Experts Still Expect Private Enforcement of Fiduciary Standard

Abstract: Even if the DOL leadership under President Trump declines to enforce a strict fiduciary standard, private litigators will undoubtedly pick up any slack if the administration fails to fully eliminate the Obama-era conflict of interest rulemaking.

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2017

Can A Retirement Plan Have Too Much Risk Management?

Abstract: Retirement plan fiduciaries and their advisors are well served by identifying primary goals, major obstacles and both short-term and long-term nightmares that would generate serious pain for participants. Said differently, risk management is a good thing unless it prevents someone from achieving important milestones.

Source: Pensionriskmatters.com, March 2017

The Impending Fiduciary Armageddon of (Most) Mutual Fund Share Classes

Abstract: Under a fiduciary rule, there is only a legitimate need for one or two share classes at most. Thus, whether it's the DOL fiduciary rule, or one that follows within a few years from the SEC, what we'll soon see is an Armageddon that destroys most mutual fund and variable annuity share classes, as we complete the shift from selling whatever products we can get paid to sell, into advisors who actually sell advice and implement the best solutions we can at the lowest cost available.

Source: Kitces.com, February 2017

401k Index Funds -- They Make it Easy to Reduce Fiduciary Liability

Abstract: Investment in equity index funds -- and other passively-managed investments designed to track a market index -- is exploding. If you are a 401k fiduciary, this trend is great news. While it can be difficult for 401k fiduciaries to insulate themselves from investment-related liability using actively-managed funds, this job can be dead simple using index funds.

Source: Employeefiduciary.com, February 2017

Is the Prudent Man Standard Good Enough?

Abstract: Any law that holds human beings to the standards of an expert in any field is a high standard, and one that can be difficult to meet even with the ablest of expert assistance. It's often said that ERISA's prudent man rule is the highest duty known to law. But is that enough?

Source: Napa-net.org, February 2017

Education Is an Important Part of the Fiduciary Process

Abstract: There have been so many misconceptions that plan sponsors and advisors have had concerning ERISA 404(c) plans. They had this belief that if they just give a mutual fund lineup and some fund profiles to plan participants that they are exempt from liability. But, ERISA 404(c) protection is about following a process and fund profiles are just not enough education to give to plan participants. On the flipside, education to participants doesn't have to amount to an MBA education.

Source: Jdsupra.com, February 2017

Fiduciary Liability Claim Trends

Abstract: Retirement plans are increasingly in the crosshairs for plaintiffs' lawyers. Allegations of breach of fiduciary duty based on payment of higher-than-reasonable fees to ERISA plan service providers are becoming more common. In the past 18 months, at least 38 ERISA class actions have been filed.

Source: Lockton.com, February 2017

Not All Fiduciaries Are Created Equal

Abstract: There are different kinds of fiduciaries, and some offer more layers of protection than others. So make sure you understand the nuances behind the designations.

Source: Kiplinger.com, February 2017

Retirement Plan Investment Programs Harbor Newly Revealed Risks

Abstract: Investment advisor conflicts of interest can cause participants to overpay for investment related services, which reduces their net investment returns and exposes their employers to fines and class action lawsuits. The DOL points out that the organizations that sponsor the plans, not the investment firms, are accountable for any excessive fees paid from plan assets. If you're unsure of where your plan's investment program aligns with the DOL's revelations, here's what to look for.

Source: Rolandcriss.com, February 2017

For DC Plans, Lowest Fees Aren't a Panacea

Abstract: There's no question fees are a hot topic for defined contribution plan sponsors. But one risk of focusing too tightly on fees is creating a distortion that addresses cost while possibly overlooking other retirement-saving factors. With so many equal or greater concerns, it's important for plan sponsors to keep a broad perspective and maintain a comprehensive approach to their fiduciary duties.

Source: Abglobal.com, January 2017

In the Complicated World of ERISA, a Fiduciary Checklist Can Help

Abstract: Checklists. Doctors use them. Engineers use them, Pilots use them. A checklist is a tool to manage complicated jobs. Now let's put that concept into the context of an individual who has fiduciary responsibilities for an ERISA plan. A checklist can help ensure that you are meeting all your responsibilities and accomplishing the plan's objective.

Source: Retirementplanblog.com, January 2017

Did President Trump's Executive Order Push Back the Fiduciary Rule?

Abstract: On Jan. 20, President Trump signed a regulatory freeze pending review, but did that affect the timing of the fiduciary rule?

Source: Asppa.org, January 2017

DOL Fiduciary Rule Will Be Undone in a Cruel Twist

Abstract: Perhaps the biggest legislative effort since 1940 to put client interests ahead of Wall Street will be allowed to effectively die in a Texas court at the hands of what was once deemed to be a two-bit lawsuit, according to Jason Roberts, CEO of the Pension Resource Institute in Los Angeles.

Source: Riabiz.com, January 2017

401k Advice in a Post-Fiduciary World

Abstract: Numerous surveys conclude that individual company 401k retirement plan participants want independent, third-party investment advice from an investment advisor who acts in their best interests regarding their retirement plan assets. The DOL fiduciary rule provides you exactly that opportunity now.

Source: Insurancenewsnet.com, January 2017

The DOL Fiduciary Class Action Lawsuit That Will Really Transform Financial Advice

Abstract: Right now there is no universally accepted minimum competency standard for financial advice, though certainly recognized rigorous designations that include both education and an advice process provide a likely path of safety for Financial Institutions. Which means in the coming year, there may soon be explosive growth in programs like the CFP and RMA, as Financial Institutions recognize and then try to minimize their exposure to a class action lawsuit for failing to meet the fiduciary duty of care.

Source: Kitces.com, January 2017

Titles Advisers Use Are Playing a Bigger Role in Fiduciary Regulation

Abstract: Though uncertainty prevails around the future of the fiduciary rule under a new administration, there are clear indications that the titles financial advisers use will play a bigger role in fiduciary regulation going forward. Even opponents of the DOL rule appear to be zeroing in on titles that cause confusion with the investing public.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), January 2017

DOL Revisits, Relaxes Retirement Plan Proxy Voting Guidance

Abstract: While the DOL's conflict-of-interest guidance is unquestionably the most high-profile fiduciary issue today, it is far from being the only fiduciary consideration to those who sponsor or administer retirement plans. The DOL issued Interpretive Bulletin 2016-1 addresses retirement plan fiduciaries' responsibilities for voting proxies related to retirement plan investments. Notable in this guidance is the DOL's affirmation that plan fiduciaries may consider environmental, social, and governance factors.

Source: Ascensus.com, January 2017

Fiduciary Standard vs. Suitability Standard: The Gotcha That Won't Go Away

Abstract: While the DOL's new fiduciary rule arguably helps define the duties owed by financial advisers who provide investment advice to retirement plans and their participants, from a purely legal standpoint, those duties may already be sufficiently defined regardless of the actions the Trump administration may take.

Source: Iainsight.wordpress.com, January 2017

Breaking Down the Three Key Elements of the DOL Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: All three elements described in the DOL's Fiduciary Rule -- (1) a fiduciary (2) that renders (non-discretionary) investment advice (3) for compensation -- must be present in order for the Rule to apply to an advisor communicating with a plan participant or an IRA owner.

Source: Morningstar.com, January 2017

Trump's SEC Pick Seen Unlikely to Advance Fiduciary Standard

Abstract: With the selection of Jay Clayton to head up the SEC, President-elect Trump has not chosen a government veteran or an attorney with a long record of investor advocacy. Instead, Clayton is someone who some expect to scale back enforcement activity and unlikely to race toward major new rulemakings.

Source: Financial-Planning.com, January 2017

SEC Offers Guidance on DOL Fiduciary Rule Compliance

Abstract: Since the DOL conflict of interest rule's publication, mutual fund providers and their adviser-intermediaries have also been asking the SEC extensive questions about sales loads, fee schedules, etc.

Source: Planadviser.com, January 2017

Information Letter on Application of Fiduciary Provisions to Certain Default Investments

Abstract: The DOL has issued an Information Letter on the application of ERISA's fiduciary provisions to default investments with lifetime income features that contain certain liquidity and transferability restrictions.

Source: Benefitsforward.com, January 2017

SEC Gets in on 401k Fiduciary Rule Compliance

Abstract: The Guidance Update will make it easier for mutual funds to create and administer compensation arrangements tailored to comply with the fiduciary rules. It does not address, however, the extent to which brokers may independently set their compensation.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, January 2017

Yes, Plan Fiduciaries, You Can Exercise Shareholder Rights

Abstract: Employee benefit plan fiduciaries can exercise their shareholder rights with proxy voting as part of their fiduciary duty to manage plan assets, the Department of Labor said Dec. 28.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), December 2016

Adopting a Fiduciary Governance Program

Abstract: This article discusses establishing a program for fiduciary governance, a program that defines the roles and responsibilities of those who oversee and manage your corporate retirement plan, as well as processes and tasks for their committee meetings.

Source: Alliantwealth.com, December 2016

The Role of the Investment Committee in Your DC Plan

Abstract: The New Year is a perfect time to address many of the annual review items in the 401k compliance and governance checklist. As the New Year unfolds, plan sponsors may want to evaluate the composition of their Investment Committee.

Source: 401ktv.com, December 2016

3(21), 3(38), or 3(16): Find the Right 401k Fiduciary Services for You

Abstract: How much work and liability do you want to take on? How much expertise can you delegate internally? What do you want your team to spend their time on? This article compares the full spectrum of work you can delegate out to an ERISA fiduciary.

Source: Forusall.com, November 2016

A Prudent Process: The Key to Demonstrating Fiduciary Compliance

Abstract: This 9-page paper starts by understanding the decades old federal law that establishes the duties of a fiduciary and then explore how advisors who find themselves in a fiduciary role can demonstrate compliance.

Source: Sourcemedia.com, November 2016

Three Influencers Driving Today's Fiduciary Best Practices

Abstract: Regulators are but one of the three key influencers shaping best practices for new fiduciaries. Financial institutions are working aggressively to comply with the DOL's new rule; however, advisors can take actionable steps today to better identify the needs and best interests of retirement plan participants and IRA holders.

Source: Manning-Napier.com, November 2016

The Reason for the DOL Rule: IRAs

Abstract: The primary reason for the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule doesn't involve protecting qualified retirement plans but rather unsuspecting IRA owners.

Source: Morningstar.com, November 2016

What Do 401k Plan Fiduciaries Need to Know About Revenue Sharing?

Abstract: ERISA does not prohibit retirement plan revenue sharing or even the retention of revenue sharing payments by retirement plan service providers. So, what's the concern? What do 401k plan fiduciaries need to know about revenue sharing? Here are some answers.

Source: Klgates.com, November 2016

Did DOL Fiduciary Rule FAQ Just Fire Warning Shot at Target-Date Fund/Index Fund Fees?

Abstract: Did the DOL just fire a warning shot to those charging adviser fees on top of target-date funds and index funds? A close reading of its just released "Conflict of Interest Exemptions FAQs," the DOL may be suggesting advisers may be overcharging for popular "set-it-and-forget-it" retirement investments.

Source: Fiduciarynews.com (registration may be required), November 2016

Owner/Trustee of 401k Plan Accused of Having Eyes Wide Shut on Fiduciary Duties

Abstract: A class action complaint was recently filed against the owner of the Emerald Coast Eye Institute. The two plaintiffs allege that they were terminated because of complaining to the owner and Plan Trustee about breaches of fiduciary duty with respect to the 401k Plan resulting in losses and damages over $1 million.

Source: Benefitsnotes.com, October 2016

Is Your 403b or 401k Retirement Plan on Autopilot?

Abstract: Over the last several months, plan participants of the 403(b) and 401k plans of many not-for-profit institutions filed class action lawsuits against their respective retirement plans, alleging excessive fees and mismanagement of retirement assets by the plan sponsor. This article suggests plan sponsors of both not-for-profit and for-profit organizations to review and ensure they're following best practices outlined here in an effort to meet their fiduciary obligations.

Source: Plantemoran.com, October 2016


Press Center | Glossary | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact Us

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.