Category Archives: consumer protection

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

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

Redefining Fiduciary Prudence for 401(k) Plan Sponsors

by James W. Watkins, III, J.D., CFP®, AWMA® The legal requirement for prudence, as defined in ERISA Section 404(a)(1)(B), is for a fiduciary to discharge his or her duties with: “the care, skill, prudence, and diligence under the circumstances then prevailing that a prudent man acting in a … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, AMVR, closet index funds, compliance, consumer protection, cost consciousness, cost efficient, cost-efficiency, DOL fiduciary rule, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, investment advisers, investments, pension plans, plan sponsors, prudence, retirement plans, risk management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At What Cost?: Annuities, Cryptocurrency, and Fiduciary Law

A [fiduciary] is held to something stricter than the morals of the market place.  Not honesty alone, but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive, is the standard of behavior….1 Fiduciary law is a combination of three types of … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, AMVR, Annuities, consumer protection, cost consciousness, cost efficient, cost-efficiency, Cost_Efficiency, ERISA litigation, evidence based investing, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, fiduciary standard, investment advisers, pension plans, prudence, retirement plans, risk management, securities compliance, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Connecting the Dots: Correlation of Returns and Fiduciary Prudence

With SCOTUS’ recent decision in Hughes v. Northwestern University1, we now have what I like to refer to as the “fiduciary responsibility trinity” (Trinity). The Trinity consists of the Tibble v. Edison International2 (Tibble), Brotherston v. Putnam Investments, LLC3(Brotherston), and … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, 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, pension plans, prudence, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The #Northwestern403b Decision: What Next For Plan Sponsors?

This past Monday, SCOTUS issued its much anticipated decision in Hughes v. Northwestern University (#Northwestern403b) The original issue before the Court was whether or not the plan participants had properly plead their case in their complaint. The lower courts had … 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, Cost_Efficiency, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, investments, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment