Group Says it Will Look Into Brightscope Data

August 11, 2009 ( - In a move it says was "stimulated by inquiries from pension plan sponsors, investment advisors, and third party administrators", the Investment Fiduciary Leadership Council (IFLC) has commissioned a study of pension plan information published by BrightScope, Inc.

IFLC, which describes itself as “an independent global organization that advocates uniform fiduciary standards of conduct for pension plan sponsors, foundations, endowments, investment advisors, investment managers, and firms that provide third party administration (“TPA”) services to retirement plans,” says that BrightScope (see  BrightScope Launches 401k Plan Management Dashboard emerged recently as a publisher of a rating scheme that it applies to selected pension plans qualified under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”).

According to the announcement, IFLC’s study initially evaluated BrightScope’s methodology for producing its ratings, the sources of data used in the ratings, and the relevancy of the ratings to ERISA’s fiduciary standards of care.   IFLC said that the evaluation uses public information disclosed by BrightScope, interviews of persons close to the firm, a survey of pension plan sponsors whose ratings appear in BrightScope’s materials, and discussions with firms that provide services to pension plans such as investment advisors and TPAs.

IFLC says that at the “urging of pension plan sponsors”, their original study was expanded to assess BrightScope’s ratings as a way to test the competency of the investment advisors and TPAs that design and implement their pension plans.

With a view of the ratings from a different perspective, the organization says that investment advisors and third party administrators asked IFLC to provide them with an analysis of BrightScope’s service provider fee comparisons, noting that several vendors that produce fee benchmarking reports to investment advisors, TPAs, and pension plan sponsors have surfaced in recent months.

The IFLC study, which it says is expected to be finished by the end of the month, will analyze BrightScope’s data to inspect its usefulness as a fee benchmarking tool and to evaluate it against other vendors’ offerings.

More information is available at .