The U.S. Labor Department has released a final rule that will require the administrators of 401(k)-type retirement plans to provide additional information to plan participants. The rule states that investment of plan assets is a fiduciary act governed by fiduciary standards. The rule requires that if a plan gives investment responsibilities to its participants, that the plan administrator must regularly inform them of those responsibilities. The plan administrator must also provide specified plan-related information and investment-related information, as detailed below.
Plan-related information consists of three categories:
-general plan information (structure and mechanics of the plan),
-administrative expense information (fees deducted from all accounts), and
-individual expense information (fees charged for individual actions).
This information must be given to participants on or before the date they can first direct their investments, and annually thereafter. Participants must also receive quarterly statements showing the actual charges for plan-related fees and expenses and a description of services provided.
Investment-related information includes –
For investments with a fixed rate of return:
-the annual rate of return
-the term of the investment
For investments that do not have a fixed rate of return:
-1-, 5-, and 10-year returns
-name and returns of an appropriate broad-based securities market index over the same 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods
-total annual operating expenses as a percentage of assets and as a dollar amount per $1000 invested
For all investments:
-any shareholder-type fees or restrictions on the participant’s ability to purchase or withdraw from the investment
-an address for a website that provides current, specific, additional information
-a general glossary of terms
Investment-related information must be given to participants on or before the date they can first direct their investments, and annually thereafter. It must be provided in a comparative format, such as a chart.
-The rule protects the plan administrator from liability for the completeness and accuracy of information given to participants if the administrator reasonably and in good faith relied on information given by a service provider.
-A participant must be given any materials the plan receives for that participant’s investments regarding voting, tender, or similar rights.
-Upon request, the plan administrator must give disclosure documents associated with an investment (prospectuses, financial reports, statements of valuation and of assets held).
The initial annual disclosure required under the rule must happen by August 30, 2012. The initial quarterly disclosure required under the rule must happen by November 14, 2012.
Source: Final Rule to Improve Transparency of Fees and Expenses to Workers in 401(k)-Type Retirement Plans (DOL Fact Sheet)
This alert applies to the Series 62, Series 6, Series 26, Series 24, Series 7, Series 65, Series 66, and Series 82 – these exams address ERISA considerations.