Tag Archives: 401k

Another 401k suit

NAPA is reporting another fee-based lawsuit against a Plan Sponsor:

“Yet another 401(k) provider and investment manager has been sued by one of its own participants for breaching its fiduciary duties to the plan – and while the claims are familiar, the venue is different.

This time the target is Mutual of Omaha in a suit filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska by Berger & Montague and Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky Wotkyns LLP on behalf of Tamera S. Lechner, a participant in the plan, which had approximately 6,000 participants and some $500 million in assets.

Lechner alleged that the plan’s fiduciaries selected United of Omaha-branded investment funds “when each of these Omaha-branded funds invested all of its assets in another publicly available investment fund managed by an unrelated third party – causing the Plan to pay a fee to United of Omaha in addition to the fee charged by the underlying fund’s manager when the Plan could simply have offered the underlying fund and avoided paying any additional fee to United of Omaha.”


For the full article click here

Tax Reform affects 401k matching

Posted by John Sullivan on 1/26/18 in 401k specialist magazine:


The controversial tax reform legislation recently passed is paying off in the form of a boon for to corporate pay and benefits, and Willis Towers Watson is attempting to gauge just how much.

The company surveyed a swath of large and midsize employers and found that nearly half (49 percent) are considering a change to employee benefits, compensation, total rewards and executive pay programs either this year or next.

“The tax reform law is creating economic opportunity to invest in their people programs,” John Bremen, managing director, human capital and benefits, Willis Towers Watson, said in a statement. “While a significant number have already announced changes to some of their programs, the majority of employers are proceeding to determine which changes will have the highest impact and generate the greatest value.”

Two-thirds of those (66 percent) surveyed are planning or considering making changes to their benefit programs or have already taken action.

The most common include expansions to personal financial planning (34 percent), increasing 401k contributions (26 percent) and increasing or accelerating pension plan contributions (19 percent).

Other potential changes include increasing the employer health care subsidy, reducing or holding flat the employee payroll deduction, or adding a new paid family leave program in accordance with the Family Medical and Leave Act’s tax credit available for paid leave for certain employees.

Sixty-four percent of employers are also planning or considering taking action on their broad-based compensation programs or have already taken action.

The most common include conducting a review of their compensation “philosophy” (43 percent), addressing pay-gap issues (36 percent) and introducing a profit-sharing or one-time bonus payout to all employees (21 percent).

About four in 10 companies (41 percent) are planning or considering changes to their executive pay programs.

The most common include spending more time and analysis on this year’s incentive target (33 percent) and increasing the use of discretion in 2018 incentive plans (19 percent.

Human Resources Administrator found guilty in 401(k) Lawsuit!

In Tibble vs Edison International, a long-running case that ended up at the supreme court, The Human Resources VP was found guilty.  The case involved improper selection of funds – by using retail funds instead of the available institutional funds, which costs the plaintiffs $7,000,000.  Additionally, they used the retail fees to offset management fees charged by their record keeper.

It is important to understand how these seemingly small decisions can have enormous repercussions.  Recent fee-oriented suits by employees at Nordstrom, BlueCross Blue Shield, Lockheed Martin, and a number of educational facilities show that these suits are not going away.  Further, audits are increasing, as the Department of Labor has found that 70% of plans are not in full compliance.

According to a 2012 article in Financial Advisor Magazine, “An estimated 70% of retirement plans audited by the Department of Labor (DOL) in 2009 and 2010 were fined, received penalties or had to make reimbursements for errors–all of which ending up costing plan fiduciaries about $450,000 per plan, according to the department.” 

Small Businesses overpay for 401k plans

This article was published in MarketsInsider on 12/13/17.  Click Here for the full article.

America’s Best 401k took a closer look at the asset-based fees paid by small business owners and their employees and found that many overpay for their 401(k) plans… The industry has reported (on page 50 at the link here) a median cost for plans with 100 participants or more, and $1 million or more in assets, of just 0.93% of plan assets per year, with the rate dropping sharply as assets exceed $10 million and more to as low as 0.27% of plan assets per year. It’s a different story for small plans, according to America’s Best 401k’s new white paper: fees are considerably higher, nearing 2% of plan assets per year in the case of one provider.”

You are required to Benchmark your fees annually.  Are you aware of how much you plan really costs?


NYU Participants File Second Excessive Fee Complaint

From Plan Sponsor Compliance Section 11/20/17.  For the full article, click here.


Participants in the New York University and related plans are making a second attempt to sue fiduciaries for excessive fees.

After a federal district court judge found most claims in an earlier complaint were not plausibly alleged by the plaintiffs, they filed a second complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. This case was filed against NYU Langone Hospitals, NYU Langone Health Systems, the retirement plan committee, and several named defendants.

As with the first case, which included the university’s Faculty Plan, the participants allege that instead of using the plans’ bargaining power to reduce expenses and exercising independent judgment to determine what investments to include in the plans, the defendants squandered that leverage by allowing the plans’ conflicted third-party service providers—TIAA-CREF and Vanguard—to dictate the plans’ investment lineup, to link its recordkeeping services to the placement of investment products in the plans, and to collect unlimited asset-based compensation from their own proprietary products.

In the new complaint, the plaintiffs attempted to offer more evidence that their claims were plausible.

For example, previously, U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ loyalty claims, finding that the plaintiffs failed to plead sufficient facts to support the loyalty-based claims. “A plaintiff does not adequately plead a claim simply by making a conclusory assertion that a defendant failed to act ‘or the exclusive purpose of’ providing benefits to participants and defraying reasonable administration expenses; instead, to implicate the concept of ‘loyalty,’ a plaintiff must allege plausible facts supporting an inference that the defendant acted for the purpose of providing benefits to itself or someone else,” she wrote in her opinion.

Reeve Conover is a Registered Representative. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/dealer member FINRA/SPIC. Cambridge and Conover Consulting are not affiliated. Licensed in SC, NC, NY, CT, NJ, and CA.
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