Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting and Lowe’s are being sued by the participants of the Lowe’s 401(k) retirement plan; the proposed class of plaintiffs puts forward a variety of familiar ERISA fiduciary breach claims.
Backing away from the topic of the DOL fiduciary rule, ERISA attorney Fred Reish focused his speech at the Plan Sponsor Council of America’s national conference on general compliance duties of ERISA plan sponsors; he noted that courts have applied what is called the “two hats” doctrine.
If an adviser reduced their fee due to the receipt of 12b-1 fees, the SEC might not ask for any disgorgement; for instance, the SEC says, if an adviser regularly charges an annual management fee of 1.25% of assets but lowered that to 1% in light of the 12b-1 fees, the SEC says it is unlikely to ask for any disgorgement.
Nearly a month after an appellate court unexpectedly quashed the DOL fiduciary rule expansion, the Securities and Exchange Commission has announced a date and time for its first formal meeting on the topic.
Amid a glut of retirement plan industry litigation and regulatory change, advisers are asking the twin questions of whether one owes a fiduciary duty to their client, and if so, what exactly those fiduciary duties entail.
In its discussions with TDF managers, Mercer has found many managers say they have not aligned with the ACWI, and have continued with portfolios that display home equity bias for a number of reasons; the research also shows strong growth in passive TDF market share.
More than 60% of advisers polled by Cerulli Associates agree that client demand for “financial planning” is increasing; at the same time, broker/dealers are refining their digital planning support for advisers in order to retain top talent.
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has adopted a revised ethics code that requires a CFP professional to act as a fiduciary in all client service contexts, and therefore, to act in the best interests of the client at all times when providing financial advice.
With so much uncertainty now overhanging the future of the DOL fiduciary rule expansion, the onus is squarely on advisers, broker/dealers and recordkeepers to decide how they will respond; we hear from one small advisory firm in Northern Ohio that will carry on with business as usual.
Plaintiffs suggested plan fiduciaries permitted excessive fees to be paid, leading to improper provider kickbacks; a district court judge has summarily dismissed the allegations for failing to state an actionable claim.
The unsuccessful challenge was viewed as somewhat unique amid the glut of retirement industry litigation because it cited the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Law of 1970, known as RICO.
Some ERISA attorneys argue the Fifth Circuit decision last week to vacate entirely the DOL’s fiduciary rule expansion makes a Supreme Court decision on the matter inevitable; others are less sure that a decisive SCOTUS decision could be forthcoming, instead expecting the SEC to take the lead; still others admit they have little idea how the regulatory picture will shake out, recommending patience and ongoing compliance.
The appellee, Market Synergy Group, argued unsuccessfully that its representatives would never be able to make the Best Interest Contract Exemption, a key mechanism underlying the new DOL fiduciary rule, workable.
A new analysis out from Empower Retirement finds historical investment performance does not serve as an optimal overall measure of value delivered by a managed account; there is strong evidence to suggest “engaged participants” extract more value from managed accounts.
The firm says it does not have additional information to share at this juncture beyond what has been noted in a 2017 year-end SEC filing; in that newly emerged document, Wells Fargo Advisors says it has begun an internal investigation into “whether there have been inappropriate referrals or recommendations” made by its advisors, including with respect to rollovers for 401(k) plan participants.
According to data from CEM Benchmarking, defined benefit pensions have outperformed defined contribution plans by less than half a percentage point over the last decade—described as a “huge improvement” for DC plan sponsors.
Plaintiffs argue it was inappropriate to allow three recordkeepers to supply the plans with a separate menu of investment choices, including mutual fund share classes that charged higher fees than other alternatives that offered the same investment strategies or less expensive share classes of the exact same investment fund—or both.