Category Archives: 401k

SCOTUS, We Still Have a Serious Problem: The Continuing Inconsistency in Judicial Interpretations of ERISA

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the Sixth Circuit issues its decision in Smith v. CommonSpirit Health (CommonSpirit).1 The Sixth Circuit dismissed the plan participant’s action, largely upon the familiar argument that market … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 401k plan design, 401k risk management, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, fiduciary risk management, pension plans, plan sponsors, risk management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fiduciary Risk Management and Liability-Driven 401(k) Plan Design

by James W. Watkins, III, J.D., CFP®, AWMA® I have written several posts on this blog critiquing the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Smith v. CommonSpirit Health (CommonSpirit). The decision, particularly the court’s “apples and oranges” argument is inconsistent with the … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 401k plan design, 401k risk management, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, AMVR, cost consciousness, cost efficient, cost-efficiency, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, fiduciary risk management, fiduciary standard, investment advisers, investments, Mutual funds, pension plans, plan sponsors, prudence, risk management, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brotherston v. CommonSpirit Health: An Opportunity, and a Need, to Shift the 401(k) Litigation Paradigm

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity – Sun Tzu As an ERISA attorney, the Sixth Circuit’s recent CommonSpirit Health (CommonSpirit) decision1 concerns me. First, the Court completely ignored the First Circuit’s Brotherston decision2, the Restatement (Third) of … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, AMVR, cost consciousness, cost-efficiency, Cost_Efficiency, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, fiduciary risk management, fiduciary standard, Mutual funds, pension plans, plan sponsors, prudence, risk management, SEC, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Conversation Every 401(k) and 403(b) Plan Needs to Have: The Plan Sponsor Liability Circle™

James W. Watkins, III, J.D., CFP®, AWMA® Whenever plan sponsors and plan advisers talk about 401(k) litigation, they always point the finger at those bad ‘ol ERISA plaintiff attorneys. Since I am one of those bad folks, I respectfully disagree … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, best interest, compliance, consumer protection, cost consciousness, cost efficient, cost-efficiency, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, fiduciary risk management, fiduciary standard, investment advisers, Mutual funds, pension plans, plan sponsors, prudence, Reg BI, retirement planning, retirement plans, risk management, securities compliance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Inconvenient Truth: Cost-Inefficiency and Closet Indexing in 401(k) Plans

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored” – Aldous Huxley The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision in the CommonSpirit Health (CommonSpirit)1 401(k) action has brought renewed attention to several key 401(k) compliance and fiduciary liability … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, AMVR, best interest, closet index funds, compliance, consumer protection, cost consciousness, cost efficient, cost-efficiency, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, investments, Mutual funds, pension plans, plan sponsors, prudence, Reg BI, retirement plans, risk management, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The CommonSpirit Health Decision: Fiduciary Risk Management Lessons for Plan Sponsors

Having read the CommonSpirit Health (CommonSpirit) decision1 and the related briefs several times, three key fiduciary risk management issues stand out to me with regard to plan sponsors 1. SCOTUS needs to expressly resolve this ongoing “apples and oranges” debate … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, Active Management Value Ratio, AMVR, best interest, compliance, consumer protection, cost-efficiency | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2Q 2022 AMVR “Cheat Sheets”

At the end of each calendar quarter, I perform a forensic AMVR fiduciary prudence analysis on the non-index mutual funds within the top 10 funds in U.S. defined contribution plans, as ranked by “Pensions & Investments.” InvestSense provides both a … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k investments, Active Management Value Ratio, AMVR, asset allocation, best interest, consumer protection, cost consciousness, cost efficient, cost-efficiency, Cost_Efficiency, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, fiduciary standard, investment advisers, investments, Mutual funds, pension plans, plan sponsors, prudence, risk management, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meaningful Choices”: Cost-Efficiency, the CommonSpirit Health decision, and the Future of 401(k) Litigation

Recently, the Sixth Circuit handed down its decision in the Smith v. CommonSpirit Health (“CommonSpirit) 401(k) action.1 My immediate reaction was “hello again SCOTUS,” as once again we have inconsistent and irreconcilable rulings between two circuits involving ERISA litigation The … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, AMVR, best interest, closet index funds, cost consciousness, cost efficient, cost-efficiency, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, fiduciary standard, investment advisers, investments, Mutual funds, pension plans, plan sponsors, prudence, Reg BI, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Caveat Fiduciarius: The Reg BI “Reasonably Available Alternatives”/ERISA “Fiduciary Prudence” Liability Trap

I am on record as saying that (a) ERISA plaintiff’s attorneys should never lose a properly vetted 401(k)/403(b) action, and (b) the amount of 401(k)/403(b) litigation is going to continue to increase. Those opinions are based on three trends within … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 403b, 404c, 404c compliance, best interest, compliance, consumer protection, cost consciousness, cost efficient, cost-efficiency, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, fiduciary standard, investment advisers, investments, Mutual funds, pension plans, plan sponsors, prudence, Reg BI, retirement plans, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Lie of the Pie”: Mutual Fund Marketing “Trickeration”

by James W. Watkins, III The financial services industry likes to use charts…a lot of charts. Attorneys do not like charts. Charts can be confusing and misleading, sometimes deliberately so. One judge told me that after I had argued the … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, Active Management Value Ratio, AMVR, asset allocation, closet index funds, clsoet index funds, compliance, consumer protection, cost consciousness, cost efficient, cost-efficiency, Cost_Efficiency, ERISA, evidence based investing, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, fiduciary standard, investment advisers, investments, Mutual funds, pension plans, plan sponsors, prudence, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment