Category: prudent


Best Interest and Best Practices #13

Posted on January 16, 2019, by Fred Reish in 401(k), best interest, DOL Activity, fiduciary, Plan Sponsors, prudent. Comments Off on Best Interest and Best Practices #13

Best Practices: Why Wait Until After You are Sued?

This is the 13th of a new series of articles titled “The Bests.” The series focuses on Best Interest and Best Practices. Those topics give me flexibility to discuss a range of subjects that affect both service providers, including advisors, and plan sponsors, including 401(k) and 403(b) committees.

I am surprised that, after all of the fiduciary litigation against 401(k) plan sponsors, many plan sponsors and their committees have not taken the basic steps to minimize the risk of being sued, or if sued, of being liable. In most of the settled cases, the plaintiffs’ class action attorneys require that certain conditions—or “best practices”—be adopted by the plan fiduciaries. And, in settlement after settlement, those conditions are, by and large, the same. That raises the obvious question, why haven’t plan committees … Read More »

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Best Interest and Best Practices #12

Posted on January 10, 2019, by Fred Reish in 401(k), fiduciary, Plan Sponsors, prudent, Registered Investment Advisers. Comments Off on Best Interest and Best Practices #12

What Does Best Interest Mean . . . In the Real World? (Part 4)

This is the 12th of a new series of articles titled “The Bests.” The series focuses on Best Interest and Best Practices. Those topics give me flexibility to discuss a range of subjects that affect both service providers, including advisors, and plan sponsors, including 401(k) and 403(b) committees.

In my last three posts (#9 and #10 and #11), I discuss the Best Interest standard of care and its practical application. This article discusses a novel approach for compliance with the fiduciary standard for the selection of investments for 401(k) plans. All the more interesting, the approach was part of an opinion of the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals.

In October 2018, the First Circuit considered an appeal of a 401(k) case where Putnam Investments, and its fiduciaries, were … Read More »

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Best Interest and Best Practices #11

Posted on December 11, 2018, by Fred Reish in best interest, fiduciary, prudent, SEC. Comments Off on Best Interest and Best Practices #11

What Does Best Interest Mean . . . In the Real World? (Part 3)

This is the 11th of a new series of articles titled “The Bests.” The series focuses on Best Interest and Best Practices. Those topics give me flexibility to discuss a range of subjects that affect both service providers, including advisors, and plan sponsors, including 401(k) and 403(b) committees.

In my last two posts (Bests #9 and #10), I discussed the definition of the Best Interest standard of care, with a particular focus on the duty to exercise care, skill, prudence and diligence in developing recommendations for investors. Those articles commented on the consistency in the Best Interest and fiduciary standards being developed by the SEC and several states (including New York), as well ERISA’s duty of care and duty of loyalty.

Bests #9 discussed the similarities of the standards … Read More »

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Best Interest and Best Practices #9

Posted on November 13, 2018, by Fred Reish in 401(k), 403(b), best interest, DOL Activity, prudent, Reg BI, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA, SEC. Comments Off on Best Interest and Best Practices #9

What Does “Best Interest” Mean? (Part 1)

This is the 9th of a new series of articles titled “The Bests.” The series focuses on Best Interest and Best Practices. Those topics give me flexibility to discuss a range of subjects that affect both service providers, including advisors, and plan sponsors, including 401(k) and 403(b) committees.

“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? It may mean different things to different people . . . and perhaps even to different regulators. However, I believe that most people would agree on the definition in this article.

As I read the guidance issued by the Department of Labor (DOL), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and New York State, there are actually … Read More »

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Best Interest and Best Practices #6

Posted on October 17, 2018, by Fred Reish in best interest, fiduciary, Plan Sponsors, prudent, Service Providers. Comments Off on Best Interest and Best Practices #6

What is the Baseline for A Committee to Act in the Best Interest of its Participants? (Part 3)

 This is the sixth of a new series of articles titled “The Bests.” The series focuses on Best Interest and Best Practices. Those topics give me flexibility to discuss a range of subjects that affect both service providers, including advisors, and plan sponsors, including 401(k) and 403(b) committees.

 In my last two posts (Bests #4 and Bests #5), I discuss the NYU case and the “bad” and “good” behavior of committee members. I concluded my last post with the point that process matters. Of course, it was unspoken that I was referring to a good process. This article discusses the fundamentals of a good process and the lessons learned from the NYU decision.

The NYU committee met quarterly.

There isn’t a prescribed timing … Read More »

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Best Interest and Best Practices #5

Posted on October 11, 2018, by Fred Reish in 401(k), 403(b), best interest, Plan Sponsors, prudent, Service Providers. Comments Off on Best Interest and Best Practices #5

What is the Baseline for A Committee to Act in the Best Interest of Its Participants? (Part 2)

This is the fifth of a series of articles titled “The Bests.” The series focuses on Best Interest and Best Practices. Those topics give me flexibility to discuss a range of subjects that affect both service providers, including advisers, and plan sponsors, including 401(k) and 403(b) committees.

This is my second article about the case of Sacerdote v. New York University. As I discussed in my last post, the Court’s opinion pointed out the deficiencies in the understandings and conduct of some committee members. However, the Court ultimately ruled in favor of the plan fiduciaries and against the plaintiffs. Why was that?

Despite the deficiencies (or “bad practices”) of some committee members, others on the committee were engaged and knowledgeable. Obviously, that was an important factor. … Read More »

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Best Interest and Best Practices: Improving Retirement Outcomes #2

Posted on September 19, 2018, by Fred Reish in best interest, DOL Activity, FINRA, prudent, Reg BI, SEC. Comments Off on Best Interest and Best Practices: Improving Retirement Outcomes #2

This is the second of a new series of articles titled “The Bests.” This series focuses on Best Interest and Best Practices. Those topics will give me flexibility to talk about a range of subjects that affect both service providers, including advisors, and plan sponsors, including 401(k) committees.

In my last post, I discuss the remarkable similarities among the SEC’s proposed Regulation Best Interest, the SEC’s proposed Interpretation for investment advisors, the DOL’s Best Interest standard of care (which is a combination of ERISA’s prudent man rule and duty of loyalty), and the New York State Best Interest standard for sales of annuities and insurance products. All of those rules require that advisors act with care, skill, prudence and diligence, and that they place the interests of the investor ahead of their own.

In the first post, I conclude that the Best … Read More »

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Best Interest and Best Practices: Improving Retirement Outcomes #1

Posted on September 12, 2018, by Fred Reish in best interest, BICE, prudent, SEC. Comments Off on Best Interest and Best Practices: Improving Retirement Outcomes #1

What is the “Best Interest?”

This is the first of a new series of articles titled “The Bests.” This series will focus on Best Interest and Best Practices. Those topics will give me flexibility to talk about a range of subjects that affect both service providers, including advisors, and plan sponsors, including 401(k) committees.

For this inaugural article, let’s talk about the meaning of “Best Interest.”

There are at least four Best Interest standards. (While “best interest” can also refer to management of conflicts of interest, this article is about the best interest standard of care.)

ERISA’s best interest standard of care for plan sponsors and fiduciary advisors for private sector retirement plans. (While ERISA doesn’t literally have a best interest standard—because the Best Interest Contract Exemption was vacated by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, that best interest standard was a combination of … Read More »

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Moving from Angles to Bests

Posted on August 15, 2018, by Fred Reish in announcement, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, prudent, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA, SEC. Comments Off on Moving from Angles to Bests

Now that I have completed 100 articles about interesting Angles on birth –and death–of the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule, and the birth of an SEC best interest standard for broker-dealers and RIAs, I am going to start on a new series. The new series, rather than being titled “Angles,” will be called “The Bests.”

So, from now on, my articles—maybe the next 100—will focus on two “bests”—the SEC’s best interest standard and best practices for advisors and plan sponsors.

I figure that the SEC’s best interest rules will be developed and implemented over the next year or two, giving me a wealth of materials for new articles. But, I don’t want to be limited to that. I think that it’s important to talk about best practices for retirement plans and retiree investing and withdrawing, with a focus on helping participants to and through … Read More »

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Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #98

Posted on July 16, 2018, by Fred Reish in Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, prudent, SEC. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #98

Regulation Best Interest: Consideration of Cost and Compensation

This is my 98th article about interesting observations concerning the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule and the SEC’s “best interest” proposals.

The SEC’s Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) proposes a number of major changes to the governance of broker-dealers. For example, it imposes a best interest standard of care on recommendations of securities transactions and it requires that material conflicts of interest involving financial incentives be eliminated or, alternatively, disclosed and mitigated. Based on the SEC’s examples of mitigation, it appears “real” mitigation is expected and not just existing practices with more disclosure.

There are other significant changes. For example, there is an increased focus on the costs and compensation related to recommended securities transactions and investment strategies. The SEC’s discussion explains that:

“[O]ur proposed interpretation of the Care Obligation would make the cost … Read More »

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Best Interest and Best Practices #13

Best Practices: Why Wait Until After You are Sued?

This is the 13th of a new series of articles titled “The Bests.” The series...

Best Interest and Best Practices #12

What Does Best Interest Mean . . . In the Real World? (Part 4)

This is the 12th of a new series of articles titled...

Best Interest and Best Practices #11

What Does Best Interest Mean . . . In the Real World? (Part 3)

This is the 11th of a new series of articles titled...