Pension Consulting Industry Probe Continues

February 3, 2006 ( - A letter from the Department of Labor (DoL) indicates the Department has initiated investigations into conflicts-of-interest in the pension consulting industry.

The letter was in response to a request by Representatives Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and George Miller (D-California) that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and DoL provide specific information about pension consultants found in an SEC report to have conflicts-of-interest, and explain what steps the SEC, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and DoL are taking to detect and deter conflicts-of-interest and hidden financial arrangements in the industry.

The SEC report was released last May after a probe of operations in the pension consultant industry and said the industry was rife with potential conflicts-of-interest, which some consultants were not adequately disclosing to clients (See  SEC Calls for Pension Consultant Disclosure Reforms).

According to a press release on Markey’s Web site, Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) Ann Combs said that after reviewing the SEC report, “several matters have been referred to EBSA officials for investigation.”   Additionally, Combs said in the letter that the “DOL is working with Treasury, and the PBGC, to identify and pursue appropriate cases.” 

In December the SEC subpoenaed Merrill Lynch & Co. for information about a Florida-based unit that advises public pension funds on picking money managers (See  Feds Subpoena Merrill in Pension Advisor Probe).

The news release with links to the letters between the DoL, SEC, and Representatives Markey and Miller is  here .