August 22, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Thirteen trade associations filed a comment letter with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), outlining objections to a proposal that would increase regulation on money market funds.
The SEC is proposing changes to the regulation of funds, including requiring the funds to abandon the stable $1 net asset value (NAV) in favor of a floating value, as well as combining significant capital requirements with holdback restrictions on redemptions.
The requirements would cause administrative difficulties for retirement plan administrators and fiduciaries, the groups contended, and fundamentally alter the structure of money market funds, making them far less desirable for retirement savers and the plans in which they participate.
If passed, defined benefit (DB) plan fiduciaries may exit money market funds that are subject to redemption holdbacks because the funds would no longer meet the plans’ needs for ready liquidity. Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciaries would be required to examine these changes in light of their fiduciary duty to plans and participants. The proposal under consideration would require that held back or restricted shares be used to make the fund whole if a fund cannot maintain its $1 NAV. Under ERISA, however, shares “held back” or restricted would continue to be considered ERISA plan assets. It is not clear that an ERISA fiduciary could allow the plan’s assets to be invested under these conditions consistent with regulatory requirements associated with the management of plan assets under ERISA. Recordkeeping and administration complications could arise, the groups pointed out. Financial intermediaries are often responsible for the applicable recordkeeping, communications, tax reporting, and other operational and servicing functions associated with retirement plans. To implement floating values or redemption restrictions, intermediaries would need to change thousands of systems that support broker/dealers, banks, insurance companies, trusts, 401(k) recordkeepers, or other institutions tasked with processing money market fund transactions for their clients.