The US Department of Labor has put out a final regulation that establishes the fiduciary requirements for disclosure in 401 (k)’s and other participant-directed individual account plans. The final regulation was issued under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The DOL guidance also comes with a final amendment to the regulation that already exists under ERISA § 404(c), 29 C.F.R. § 2550.404c-1.
The disclosure requirements answer a number of questions, including:
• Who is responsible for disclosing information to beneficiaries and participants in individual account plans that are participant-directed?
What information must be disclosed?
• What are the rules when dealing with target date funds, fixed-return investments, annuities, and employer securities?
• What type of disclosure is required?
• When should disclosure of information be made to participants and beneficiaries?
• Who should disclose the information?
Under the final regulation, the plan administrator of an individual account plan must make sure that beneficiaries and participants are made aware of their responsibilities and rights in regards to their investments. They also must receive enough information about the plan, investment alternatives, and fees and expenses so that they can make informed decisions.
Under the final regulation, participants and beneficiaries of “covered individual account plans” must receive disclosure in four categories of information, including:
• General Operational and Identification Information
• General Plan Administrative Expenses
• Individual Expenses
• Investment-Related Information
Plan administrators also have to automatically disclose certain performance benchmarks and data, including the average annual return of the investment over 1, 5, and 10 calendar year periods, as well as provide a statement noting that past performance does not guarantee that the results in the future will be the same. Designated investment alternatives that have a stated or fixed return for the term of the investment must come with a disclosure that includes the term of the investment and the fixed or stated annual return rate.
For more details, contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas founder and securities fraud attorney William Shepherd.
Related Web Resources:
U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Regulation on Fiduciary Requirements for Participant Disclosure in Participant-Directed Individual Account Plans & A Final Amendment to the Regulation under ERISA Section 404(c), Proskauer, October 27, 2010
Employee Retirement Income Security Act — ERISA, US Department of Labor
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