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Proprietary Funds in 401(k) and Retirement Plans: A View From the Trenches


Aug. 9, 2017
Recorded Online

Recorded August 9, 2017

Navigating Prohibited Transaction Rules, Fiduciary Duties, and the Recent Surge in DOL Investigations and Civil Litigation

Financial services companies typically offer their own products — mutual funds, insurance contracts, collective trusts — to their employees in their company-sponsored 401(k) and retirement plans. These proprietary, or affiliated, products can create additional risks for sponsors and fiduciaries and raise complicated issues under ERISA’s prohibited transaction and fiduciary rules.

These complex issues have recently moved front and center in both the regulatory and litigation arenas as private plaintiffs and the government challenge the prudence and performance of these investments and associated fees and expenses. These challenges raise the specter of a finding of imprudence related to a sponsor’s own products that are marketed to the sponsor’s customers, an unenviable situation that can expose a plan sponsor to costly litigation or regulatory action.

The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What are the peculiar problems associated with the offering of proprietary funds, and the varied—and peculiar—legal standards governing their use?
  • How might a finding of a fiduciary breach impact the sponsor’s business model?
  • What steps can be taken to avoid problems before they erupt into a DOL investigation and/or an ERISA class action?

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