SPARK Creates Data Standards for Participant Fee Disclosure

The SPARK Institute has released a draft of data standards for investment product providers and recordkeepers to help them fulfill their part of the upcoming fee disclosure rules.

SPARK’s draft suggests ways in which providers and recordkeepers can electronically share investment related information that retirement plan sponsors must disclose to participants under new fee disclosure rules. According to Larry Goldbrum, SPARK General Counsel, the standards were developed primarily for use by non-registered investment product providers (e.g., bank collective investment funds, non-registered “fund of funds,” separately managed accounts and annuities) because no standards or mechanism currently exist for investment providers to transmit the required information to plan sponsors and their record keepers. 

“Our members who are recordkeepers recognized that plan sponsors will need significant help in collecting and reporting the data on potentially thousands of non-registered investment options and that gathering the information must be done electronically in order to be reliable, timely and cost effective,” said Goldbrum.     

Although developed primarily for sharing information on non-registered funds, the data standards can, to a limited extent, accommodate certain registered investment products (i.e., mutual funds), but are not intended to be the primary means for sharing information for such funds.  

The document, “Data Layouts for Investment Related Retirement Plan Participant Disclosures,” is posted on The SPARK Institute Web site at SPARK is requesting comments and feedback from everyone in the retirement plan community, including non-registered investment product providers, recordkeepers and plan sponsors so that the final version of the data standards meets the needs of as many affected parties as possible. Comments are due by August 4 and should be submitted to