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Fiduciary Governance

A fiduciary must be prudent. But what exactly is prudence? A recent blog entry broaches the subject. In “Dear Prudence,” an entry in the blog The Research Puzzle, Tom Brakke writes that “at the core” of laws and regulations that guide those who assist others in managing their assets “is the... READ MORE
In order to serve a client effectively — and fulfill fiduciary duties, BTW — a fiduciary of course must know their client. And one also must pursue the client’s best interest. But it’s possible that those goals may not always be congruent; in fact, they may even be mutually exclusive, argues a... READ MORE
When it comes to participant communications, a new white paper suggests that some retirement plan terms have meanings that are completely out of step with the definitions most people associate with them. In “Boosting the effectiveness of retirement plan communications,” the Empower Institute... READ MORE
Misunderstanding what the “15th business day” means for purposes of Department of Labor (DOL) regulations can earn one unwelcome federal attention. A recent blog entry discusses that risk and how to obviate it.   The DOL’s participant contribution regulation requires employers of all sizes to... READ MORE
Nevada’s Office of the Secretary of State, Securities Division, on Jan. 18 released draft regulations defining the state’s new fiduciary standard based on legislation enacted by the state’s legislature in 2017 – the first of several states to do so. There does not appear to be an ERISA exemption,... READ MORE
Like a teeth cleaning, plan audits are not popular but serve a useful purpose. And for many plans, they are unavoidable. But a plan audit need not be unpleasant, and there are steps that can be taken to prepare for one and make it a smoother experience. In “Making Your Benefit Plan Audit Easier,”... READ MORE
Any industry develops its own language and unique terms. Those in it consider them to be terms of art; those who are not, and whom a particular industry serves, are likely to regard its unique terms as jargon. Recent research shows that retirement plan participants are among those who prefer... READ MORE
Three years to the day after filing suit, a 401(k) plan participant has dropped his excessive fee suit – with a whimper, not a bang. The suit, originally filed Jan. 14, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, was filed by Wahan Krikorian, a participant in the TPS Parking... READ MORE
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the new chair of the House Financial Services Committee, recently outlined a full-bodied agenda that seeks to protect consumers, safeguard investors and prevent another financial crisis. In terms of setting the committee’s agenda, Waters, who has served on the committee... READ MORE
Putnam Investments, LLC has officially asked the nation’s highest court to weigh in on an issue on which district courts have split 6-4: Who bears the burden of proof when alleging losses due to a fiduciary breach? Indeed, the issue seems ripe for consideration. As Putnam states in its petition to... READ MORE
This is the time of year when resolutions for the cessation of bad behaviors and the beginning of better ones are in vogue. Here are four for plan fiduciaries to keep in mind all year long. Find your plan document(s) – and read them. One of the key guiding principles for plan fiduciaries is... READ MORE
The gym parking lot is full — must be January, with New Year’s resolutions fresh on people’s minds. But a recent blog argues that resolutions about physical fitness are not the only kind that should be made; it suggests that they should also include being ready for a plan audit by the IRS or... READ MORE
After more than a decade of litigation, a federal judge has approved the $6.9 million settlement struck by the parties, including $2.3 million to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. The original lawsuit, filed in 2007, claimed that Citigroup’s 401(k) plan fiduciaries “put Citigroup’s interests ahead of the... READ MORE
Having repeatedly come up short, the plaintiffs in an excessive fee case have just come up short – again. The plaintiffs in this case have been at it since February 2016, when they, represented by the St. Louis-based litigation powerhouse Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, first challenged the $19... READ MORE
“Best Interest” has become part of the American lexicon… as an aspirational goal or a demanding standard — depending on the point of view. But, what does best interest mean? In a recent blog post, noted ERISA attorney Fred Reish identifies two different best interests: the first a standard of care... READ MORE
The confetti has been swept from Times Square and the bubbly bottles are in the recycling, and the nitty-gritty of applying those new year’s resolutions has begun. A recent blog entry has some suggestions for resolutions to follow in order to better fulfill fiduciary duties. In “6 New Year’s... READ MORE
The start of a new year is an opportune moment to take stock of the way things are done and consider new approaches. A benefits-related organization offers some ideas of things to consider regarding designing and providing a workplace financial education program. The International Foundation of... READ MORE
A proposed settlement in an excessive fee suit has been sent back to the parties for some clarifications. The suit (Barrett v. Pioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc., D. Colo., No. 1:17-cv-01579-WJM, complaint filed 6/28/17) was brought by plaintiff William Barrett, a participant in the Pioneer... READ MORE
Having lost their case in a recent appellate court decision, plan fiduciaries are now seeking a hearing with the full court. The plaintiffs in this case had alleged that the IBM defendants (IBM itself, along with the Retirement Plans Committee of IBM; Richard Carroll, IBM’s Chief Accounting... READ MORE
The Department of Labor (DOL) is aggressively investigating the practices and procedures of plan sponsors with respect to locating missing participants and distributing benefits to those participants. In some cases, the DOL is asserting breaches of fiduciary duty for failure to perform regular... READ MORE