Category Archives: investments

The Active Management Value Ratio™ Step-by-Step: Investment Analysis and Risk Management for Investment Fiduciaries

James W. Watkins, III, J.D., CFP Board EmeritusTM, AWMATM Your 401(k) plan adviser recommends Fund XYZ and tells you the fund has a ten-year annualized return of 12.63 percent, beating the comparable Vanguard Large Cap Growth Index Fund. Ask him … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 401k plan design, 401k risk management, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, AMVR, closet index funds, clsoet 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, fiduciary risk management, fiduciary standard, investment advisers, investments, pension plans, plan advisers, plan sponsors, prudence, retirement planning, retirement plans, risk management, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Target Date Funds Have Now Become the Targets of 401(k) Litigation (Part 2)

In my last post, I analyzed the popular Fidelity Freedom Active Suite and Fidelity Freedom Index target date funds. The Fidelity Freedom and TIAA-CREF Lifestyle target date funds are arguably the two most popular groups of target date funds in … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 401k plan design, 401k risk management, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, 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, fiduciary risk management, fiduciary standard, investment advisers, investments, Mutual funds, pension plans, plan sponsors, prudence, retirement planning, retirement plans, risk management, wealth management, wealth preservation | 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

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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

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

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

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

Heuristics, Cognitive Biases and 401(k)/403(b) Fiduciary Decision-Making

The number of 401(k)/403(b) cases continues to grow. And it will continue to do so unless and until plan sponsors take the time to truly understand their legal responsibilities and adjust their plans accordingly.  I am on record as saying … Continue reading

Posted in 401k, 401k compliance, 401k investments, 403b, Active Management Value Ratio, ERISA, ERISA litigation, fiduciary compliance, fiduciary duty, fiduciary law, fiduciary liability, fiduciary liability, Fiduciary prudence, fiduciary prudence, fiduciary responsibility, fiduciary standard, investments, retirement plans, wealth management, wealth preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment