As the mutual fund trading scandal enters its fourth month, there seems to be little sign of abatement in the allegations of wrongdoing, or the firms involved.
Of course, there are various levels of culpability in these transgressions, and plan sponsors would be well-advised to consider carefully not only the what but also the who in evaluating their continued involvement with these firms (see What's a Plan Sponsor to Do? PLANSPONSOR, December).
While ERISA does not specifically require that fiduciaries communicate with participants about the review of participant-directed investments, plan sponsors may well want to help provide reassurance to their workers. Most participants lack the time or the knowledge to deal with these allegations. What they may know is that a fund in their current retirement plan account has been charged with wrongdoing, or they may fear that it soon will be.
More significantly, they may worry that the allegations mean that mutual funds are not to be trusted, or that fund managers accused of market-timing may be effectively embezzling their hard-earned retirement savings. Some no doubt wonder why, if market-timing "is not technically illegal," everyone is making such a big deal about it.
Bear in mind that, if you decide to remove a fund, you will need to communicate to participants about that change—and the new fund—in order to comply with 404c. This month's Know How is designed to help you help them gain a better understanding of what the issues are, and what they should do about it. As always, we look forward to your feedback.
Consider adding to your communication:
List of funds in your program named in the scandal (if any)
List of funds named in the scandal (from www.plansponsor.com)
List of reviews/actions taken to date
Contact numbers/names for follow-up questions