Sunday, December 20, 2020

Compliance with the DOL's New Proxy Rules May Stump ERISA Fiduciaries

A counter-revolution in ESG Investing?

Author: David Schwartz

On Friday, December 11, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued its final rules on proxy voting by ERISA fiduciaries. As proposed last August 30, the draft rules drew hundreds of responses by the ESG-directed investing community, many of which criticized as unworkable the DOL proposal. The final version of the rules eliminates the need for plan sponsors to weigh the economic vs. non-economic effects before casting their proxy votes. Yet that softer, principles-based approach may itself create compliance problems for ERISA fiduciaries -- and may not even survive the first hundred days of the Biden administration.

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Friday, October 30, 2020

Regulators Want ESG Funds to Justify their Strategies

Author: David Schwartz

Today the Department of Labor (DOL) issued final rules clarifying the regulatory guideposts for fiduciaries of private-sector retirement and other employee benefit plans in light of recent trends involving environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. The DOL is not the only regulator with ESG funds in their cross-hairs. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun verifying asset managers’ and mutual funds’ ESG strategies through examination and is considering amending the mutual fund “name test rule” to ensure funds are living up to their ESG promises to shareholders.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Lawmakers Fail to Stop the DOL’s New Fiduciary Standard from Moving Forward

Author: David Schwartz

Foes of the DOL’s proposed fiduciary rule suffered a setback last week when the House of Representatives passed an omnibus spending bill omitting any measures that would have stalled, hindered, or killed the proposal.  On the table during budget negotiations were riders and amendments to the bill that would have defunded the proposal, required a new comment period, or proposed an alternative standard altogether.  The new standard’s proponents, including the DOL, SEC, and the Obama administration say that the rule proposal which would require brokers to put their clients' interests ahead of their own in 401(k) and individual retirement accounts is vital to protecting workers saving for retirement from high-fee products that erode their savings.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Revised Fiduciary Standard Proposal from the DOL

Author: David Schwartz
On April 14, 2014, the Department of Labor issued its long awaited reproposal of fiduciary standards for advisors of ERISA retirement plans.   These new rules propose to expand the scope of the the definition of fiduciary under ERISA in order to capture more of the current services of 401(k) and IRA providers.  

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Congressional Republicans Want Answers on DOL and SEC Fiduciary Standards

Tempers Flare as Publication of Sweeping New ERISA Fiduciary Proposal Draws Near

Author: David Schwartz
In a March 4, 2015 letter, two House Republicans requested answers from Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Thomas E. Perez about the process for devising new fiduciary rules for investment professionals providing services to retirement plans.  Representative John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, want to know if and how the DOL and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are working together to minimize potential conflicts, higher costs, and detrimental effects on information available to those saving for retirement.  
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