Category Archives: Fiduciary Issues

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U.S. Supreme Court and Department of Labor Provide New Guidelines for ESOP Trustees

A recent court decisions and the Settlement Agreement in a Department of Labor (DOL) enforcement action against an institutional ESOP trustee provide new guidelines for trustees and other ESOP fiduciaries involved in the purchase or sale of company stock. Bear in mind that all employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) are set up to invest primarily … Continue Reading

The Impact of Peer Pressure on Workplace Ethics

When we think about lying, cheating, and stealing in the workplace, we may think it’s always bad people doing bad things. But sometimes good people lose their moral compasses because of peer pressure. That was the conclusion of the recent study, Underestimating Our Influence Over Others’ Unethical Behavior and Decisions conducted by Bohns,  Roghanizad, and Xu … Continue Reading

Managing the 401(k) Data Deluge and How to Avoid Problems

No, that’s not the Matrix pictured on the right. It’s simply a visual representation of a special report by The Economist a little over three years ago, Data, Data Everywhere, In that report, The Economist reported that Wal-Mart handled more than one million customer transactions every hour, feeding databases estimated at more than 2.5 petabytes. … Continue Reading

The 401(k)/403(b) Investment Manual: Book Review

In the almost 7 years I have been writing this blog, I have written a number of book reviews about 401(k) plans and investing that have tracked the retirement plan industry. Josh Itzoe’s Fixing The 401(k) in 2009 Pat Huddleston’s, The Vigilant Investor: THE VIGILANT INVESTOR: A Former SEC Enforcer Reveals How To Fraud Proof-Your Investments in 2011 … Continue Reading

Risk Management Strategies for Business Owners for New Department of Labor Fee Disclosure Rules

Today our firm and Mike Cavanaugh and Tim Webb, Registered Investment Advisors at Know Your Options, Inc., sponsored a special briefing for corporate attorneys on the new fee disclosure regulations impacting their clients. Our briefing at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center was provided  to help them provide their clients with the guidance and strategies … Continue Reading

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” shouldn’t be the theme song of 401(k) fee disclosures

Don’t Worry, Be Happy, is, of course, the title of Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 hit song. Since then, it’s seeped into our culture. If you want to fully incorporate it into your life, you can download the ring tone. I’m suggesting, however, that it shouldn’t be the attitude of employers who have received 408(b)(2) service provider … Continue Reading

Meet the “ERISA Account”, the newcomer to the small 401(k) plan scene

Let me introduce you to the “ERISA Account”, a relative newcomer to the small 401(k) plan market. It’s been part of the large and medium plan market for some time. Only recently has it migrated down stream because of (yes, you guessed it) the increased regulatory emphasis and fiduciary attention to fee disclosure. Overview ERISA … Continue Reading

Four misconceptions about fiduciary liability insurance

With the increasing spotlight on fiduciaries and their responsibilities for ERISA plans, many employers are asking themselves whether it’s time to buy fiduciary liability insurance. With personal assets on the line for breach of fiduciary responsibility, there is no “one size fits all” answer. But, if you are a fiduciary considering fiduciary liability insurance, here … Continue Reading

“Watching the Detectives”: The ERISA version

That’s Declan Patrick MacManus pictured above, but we know him by his stage name Elvis Costello, the English singer-songwriter of Irish heritage. The picture is actually the cover art for Watching the Detectives, the 1977 single by Elvis Costello and his backing band, the Attractions, which gave him his first UK hit single. It’s my … Continue Reading

Things to do as a fiduciary

Each week Nevin E. Adams, JD, PLANADVISER Editor-in-Chief writes a column called IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), and he’s always a good read. He’s just published a two-part series that’s an excellent, common sense approach for fiduciaries that’s definitely worth keeping handy. It’s called “To Do” List: 10 Things You’re (Probably) Doing Wrong—or Not Doing … Continue Reading

The practical side of being a fiduciary

That’s Les Stroud pictured above whose TV show, Survivorman, is one of my favorites. One of my other favorites is Bear Gyylls show, Man Versus Wild.    Both are survival experts who go toe-to-toe with some of the harshest environments on the planet and come through alive. So if you’ll grant me some editorial license, Les’s picture is the visual metaphor I’m … Continue Reading

What every fiduciary should know about their brokers … and also their custodial banks, and financial contracts

I’ve got that queasy feeling again in my stomach. The recent collapse of Bear Stearns gave me flashbacks to the 1990s during which we struggled with insolvency issues affecting ERISA plans. If you were around back then, you’ll remember the insurance companies that failed or were seized by insurance regulators as a result of failed … Continue Reading
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