Thought Leadership

Money market reform: What DC plans need to know

Published In September 2016 | Sponsored by BlackRock

New regulations for money market mutual funds – announced in July 2014 by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – are set to take effect on October 14. While some provisions of the new regulations may not apply to defined contribution (DC) plans, one of the most significant changes does: redemption gates and liquidity fees in prime money market mutual funds.

Redemption gates and liquidity fees give a mutual fund board tools to prevent a potentially destabilizing run on its assets and are required for SEC-registered prime money market mutual funds. While government/Treasury money market mutual funds are not required to adopt them, the fund board may do so as long as they are disclosed. The following table describes how the redemption gates and liquidity fees may be triggered. 
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The new regulations seek to improve investor safety. Plan sponsors, working with their providers, may wish to weigh their preferences regarding the liquidity, return and principal safety of money market mutual fund options.

As with any new regulation, the upcoming changes may provide an opportunity to reexamine how to best provide for participant needs. For example, a plan sponsor may wish to consider the following alternatives:

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Bank collective funds are one possible alternative to money market mutual funds. Here’s a bit more about how these funds work:

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With the October deadline for compliance quickly approaching, plan sponsors may wish to weigh all the alternatives to determine the most appropriate way to meet the needs of their participants. Here’s a checklist of what to keep in mind:

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For more defined contribution insights, visit our site.


Disclosure information

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

Risk is inherent in all investing. The value of your investment in money market funds as well as the amount of return you receive on your investment, may fluctuate significantly from day to day and over time. You may lose part or all of your investment in the funds or your investment may not perform as well as other similar investments. An investment in the funds is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although the funds seek to preserve the value of an investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in the funds. The following is a summary description of principal risks of investing in the funds: 

  • Credit Risk – Credit risk refers to the possibility that the issuer of a security will not be able to make principal and interest payments when due. Changes in an issuer’s credit rating or the market’s perception of an issuer’s creditworthiness may also affect the value of the Fund’s investment in that issuer. The degree of credit risk depends on both the financial condition of the issuer and the terms of the obligation.
  • Extension Risk(applicable to TempFund and TempCash) – When interest rates rise, certain obligations will be paid off by the obligor more slowly than anticipated, causing the value of these securities to fall. Rising interest rates tend to extend the duration of securities, making them more sensitive to changes in interest rates. The value of longer-term securities generally changes more in response to changes in interest rates than shorter-term securities. As a result, in a period of rising interest rates, securities may exhibit additional volatility and may lose value.
  • Financial Services Risk(applicable to TempCash) – A substantial part of TempCash’s portfolio, 25% or more, will, under normal circumstances, be comprised of securities issued by companies in the financial services industry. As a result, TempCash will be more susceptible to any economic, business, political or other developments which generally affect this industry sector. Because of its concentration in the financial services industry, TempCash will be exposed to a large extent to the risks associated with that industry, such as government regulation, the availability and cost of capital funds, consolidation and general economic conditions. Financial services companies are also exposed to losses if borrowers and other counterparties experience financial problems and/or cannot repay their obligations. The profitability of many types of financial services companies may be adversely affected in certain market cycles, including during periods of rising interest rates, which may restrict the availability and increase the cost of capital, and declining economic conditions, which may cause credit losses due to financial difficulties of borrowers. Because many types of financial services companies are vulnerable to these economic cycles, TempCash’s investments may lose value during such periods.
  • Foreign Exposure Risk(applicable to TempFund, TempCash, MuniFund, MuniCash, California Money Fund and New York Money Fund) – Securities issued or supported by foreign entities, including foreign banks and corporations, may involve additional risks and considerations. Extensive public information about the foreign issuer may not be available, and unfavorable political, economic or governmental developments in the foreign country involved could affect the payment of principal and interest.
  • Income Risk– Each Fund’s yield will vary as short-term securities in its portfolio mature and the proceeds are reinvested in securities with different interest rates.
  • Interest Rate Risk– Interest rate risk is the risk that the value of a debt security may fall when interest rates rise. In general, the market price of debt securities with longer maturities will go up or down more in response to changes in interest rates than the market price of shorter term securities. Additionally, securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government, its agencies, instrumentalities and sponsored enterprises have historically involved little risk of loss of principal if held to maturity. However, due to fluctuations in interest rates, the market value of such securities may vary during the period shareholders own shares of the Fund.
  • Market Risk and Selection Risk – Market risk is the risk that one or more markets in which the Fund invests will go down in value, including the possibility that the markets will go down sharply and unpredictably. Selection risk is the risk that the securities selected by Fund management will underperform the markets, the relevant indices or the securities selected by other funds with similar investment objectives and investment strategies. This means you may lose money.
  • Mortgage- and Asset-Backed Securities Risks(applicable to TempFund and TempCash) – Mortgage-backed securities (residential and commercial) and asset-backed securities represent interests in “pools” of mortgages or other assets, including consumer loans or receivables held in trust. Although asset-backed and commercial mortgage-backed securities (“CMBS”) generally experience less prepayment than residential mortgage-backed securities, mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities, like traditional fixed income securities, are subject to credit, interest rate, prepayment and extension risks. Small movements in interest rates (both increases and decreases) may quickly and significantly reduce the value of certain mortgage-backed securities. A Fund’s investments in asset-backed securities are subject to risks similar to those associated with mortgage-related securities, as well as additional risks associated with the nature of the assets and the servicing of those assets. These securities also are subject to the risk of default on the underlying mortgages or assets, particularly during periods of economic downturn. Certain CMBS are issued in several classes with different levels of yield and credit protection. A Fund’s investments in CMBS with several classes may be in the lower classes that have greater risks than the higher classes, including greater interest rate, credit and prepayment risks. Mortgage-backed securities may be either pass-through securities or collateralized mortgage obligations. Pass-through securities represent a right to receive principal and interest payments collected on a pool of mortgages, which are passed through to security holders. CMOs are created by dividing the principal and interest payments collected on a pool of mortgages into several revenue streams (“tranches”) with different priority rights to portions of the underlying mortgage payments. Certain CMO tranches may represent a right to receive interest only (“IOs”), principal only (“POs”) or an amount that remains after other floating-rate tranches are paid (an “inverse floater”). These securities are frequently referred to as “mortgage derivatives” and may be extremely sensitive to changes in interest rates. Interest rates on inverse floaters, for example, vary inversely with a short-term floating rate (which may be reset periodically). Interest rates on inverse floaters will decrease when short-term rates increase, and will increase when short-term rates decrease. These securities have the effect of providing a degree of investment leverage. In response to changes in market interest rates or other market conditions, the value of an inverse floater may increase or decrease at a multiple of the increase or decrease in the value of the underlying securities. If a Fund invests in CMO tranches (including CMO tranches issued by government agencies) and interest rates move in a manner not anticipated by Fund management, it is possible that the Fund could lose all or substantially all of its investment. The mortgage market in the United States at times has experienced difficulties that may adversely affect the performance and market value of a Fund’s mortgage-related investments. Delinquencies and losses on mortgage loans (including subprime and second-lien mortgage loans) generally have increased and may continue to increase, and a decline in or flattening of real-estate values (as has been experienced and may continue to be experienced in many housing markets) may exacerbate such delinquencies and losses. Also, a number of mortgage loan originators have recently experienced serious financial difficulties or bankruptcy. Reduced investor demand for mortgage loans and mortgage-related securities and increased investor yield requirements have caused limited liquidity in the secondary market for mortgage-related securities, which can adversely affect the market value of mortgage-related securities. It is possible that such limited liquidity in such secondary markets could continue or worsen. Asset-backed securities entail certain risks not presented by mortgage-backed securities, including the risk that in certain states it may be difficult to perfect the liens securing the collateral backing certain asset-backed securities. In addition, certain asset backed securities are based on loans that are unsecured, which means that there is no collateral to seize if the underlying borrower defaults. Certain mortgage-backed securities in which a Fund may invest may also provide a degree of investment leverage, which could cause the Fund to lose all or substantially all of its investment.
  • Municipal Securities Concentration Risk(applicable to MuniFund, MuniCash, California Money Fund and New York Money Fund) – From time to time a Fund may invest a substantial amount of its assets in municipal securities whose interest is paid solely from revenues of similar projects, if such investment is deemed necessary or appropriate by BlackRock. If a Fund concentrates its investments in this manner, it assumes the legal and economic risks relating to such projects and this may have a significant impact on the Fund’s investment performance.
  • Municipal Securities Risks(applicable to TempFund, TempCash, MuniFund, MuniCash, California Money Fund and New York Money Fund) – Municipal securities risks include the ability of the issuer to repay the obligation, the relative lack of information about certain issuers of municipal securities, and the possibility of future legislative changes which could affect the market for and value of municipal securities.
  • Non-Diversification Risk (applicable to California Money Fund and New York Money Fund) – Each Fund concentrates its investments in securities of issuers located in a particular state. This raises special concerns because the Fund may be more exposed to the risks associated with and developments affecting an individual issuer than a fund that invests more widely. In particular, changes in the economic conditions and governmental policies of the particular state and its political subdivisions, including as a result of legislation or litigation changing the taxation of municipal securities or the rights of municipal security holders in the event of bankruptcy, could impact the value of the Fund’s shares.
  • Regulatory Risk – On July 23, 2014, the SEC adopted amendments to money market fund regulations, which structurally change the way that certain money market funds will be required to operate. The effect of these amendments on an individual money market fund will depend on the type of investors (e.g., retail or institutional) and the principal investments of the fund. For example, “institutional” money market funds will be required to sell and redeem fund shares using a floating net asset value and may, at the discretion of the fund’s board of trustees, impose fees on shareholder redemptions and temporarily suspend redemptions if the fund’s weekly liquid assets fall below a certain threshold. “Retail” money market funds may impose fees and suspend redemptions, but may continue to sell and redeem shares at a constant net asset value, whereas “Government” money market funds are exempt from these structural changes. The compliance periods for the amendments range between July 2015 and October 2016. When implemented, the changes may affect a Fund’s investment strategies, fees and expenses, portfolio and share liquidity and return potential. Each Fund is still evaluating its strategy to implement the new regulations.
  • Repurchase Agreements Risk (applicable to TempFund, TempCash, FedFund, T-Fund and Treasury Trust Fund) – If the other party to a repurchase agreement defaults on its obligation under the agreement, a Fund may suffer delays and incur costs or lose money in exercising its rights under the agreement. If the seller fails to repurchase the security and the market value of the security declines, the Fund may lose money.
  • State Specific Risk(applicable to California Money Fund and New York Money Fund) – Each of California Money Fund and New York Money Fund will invest primarily in California Municipal Obligations and New York Municipal Obligations, respectively. As a result each Fund is more exposed to risks affecting issuers of its designated state’s Municipal Obligations than is a municipal securities fund that invests more widely. See the prospectus for full risk factors specific to each Fund.
  • Taxability Risk(applicable to MuniFund, MuniCash, California Money Fund and New York Money Fund) – Each Fund intends to minimize the payment of taxable income to shareholders by investing in tax-exempt or municipal securities in reliance at the time of purchase on an opinion of bond counsel to the issuer of the obligation that the interest paid on those securities will be excludable from gross income for Federal income tax purposes. Such securities, however, may be determined to pay, or have paid, taxable income subsequent to the Fund’s acquisition of the securities. In that event, the IRS may demand that the Fund pay Federal income taxes on the affected interest income, and, if the Fund agrees to do so, the Fund’s yield could be adversely affected. In addition, the treatment of dividends previously paid or to be paid by the Fund as “exempt interest dividends” could be adversely affected, subjecting the Fund’s shareholders to increased Federal income tax liabilities. If the interest paid on any tax-exempt or municipal security held by the Fund is subsequently determined to be taxable, the Fund will dispose of that security as soon as reasonably practicable. In addition, future laws, regulations, rulings or court decisions may cause interest on municipal securities to be subject, directly or indirectly, to Federal income taxation or interest on state municipal securities to be subject to state or local income taxation, or the value of state municipal securities to be subject to state or local intangible personal property tax, or may otherwise prevent the Fund from realizing the full current benefit of the tax-exempt status of such securities. Any such change could also affect the market price of such securities, and thus the value of an investment in the Fund.
  • Trading Risk(applicable to Federal Trust and Treasury Trust) – In selling securities prior to maturity, the Funds may realize a price higher or lower than that paid to acquire such securities, depending upon whether interest rates have decreased or increased since their acquisition. In addition, shareholders in a state that imposes an income tax should determine through consultation with their own tax advisors whether a Fund’s interest income, when distributed by the Fund, will be considered by the state to have retained exempt status, and whether the Fund’s capital gain and other income, if any, when distributed, will be subject to the state’s income tax.
  • U.S. Government Obligations Risk – Obligations of U.S. Government agencies, authorities, instrumentalities and sponsored enterprises have historically involved little risk of loss of principal if held to maturity. However, not all U.S. Government securities are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. Obligations of certain agencies, authorities, instrumentalities and sponsored enterprises of the U.S. Government are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States (e.g., the Government National Mortgage Association); other obligations are backed by the right of the issuer to borrow from the U.S. Treasury (e.g., the Federal Home Loan Banks) and others are supported by the discretionary authority of the U.S. Government to purchase an agency’s obligations. Still others are backed only by the credit of the agency, authority, instrumentality or sponsored enterprise issuing the obligation. No assurance can be given that the U.S. Government would provide financial support to any of these entities if it is not obligated to do so by law.
  • Variable and Floating Rate Instrument Risk– The absence of an active market for these securities could make it difficult for the Fund to dispose of them if the issuer defaults.
  • When-Issued and Delayed Settlement Transactions Risk– When-issued and delayed delivery securities involve the risk that the security a Fund buys will lose value prior to its delivery. There also is the risk that the security will not be issued or that the other party to the transaction will not meet its obligation. If this occurs, the Fund loses both the investment opportunity for the assets it set aside to pay for the security and any gain in the security’s price.

Asset allocation models and diversification do not promise any level of performance or guarantee against loss of principal.

The opinions expressed may change as subsequent conditions vary. The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by BlackRock, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries (together, “BlackRock”) to be reliable. No representation is made that this information is accurate or complete. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass.

This material does not constitute a recommendation by BlackRock, or an offer to sell, or a solicitation of any offer to buy or sell any securities, product or service. The information is not intended to provide investment advice. BlackRock does not guarantee the suitability or potential value of any particular investment.

Material prepared by BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A., located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA.

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