Providers Team up to Provide Fiduciary Services to Smaller Plans

April 25, 2011 ( - AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company has teamed with Wilshire Associates Incorporated to help plan sponsors meet their fiduciary obligations in screening, selecting and monitoring investment options.

These services are available as part of AXA Equitable’s new Retirement Gateway group variable annuity designed to fund retirement plans for the small- to mid-size market.    

According to a press release, Wilshire offers two levels of support to Gateway clients providing sponsors with choice and flexibility. The 3(21) Series designed for those who wish to retain primary responsibility for investment selection. The 3(38) Series designed for those who prefer Wilshire to have discretion over investment selection decisions.  

The 3(21) option comes standard with the Gateway plan. With this service, Wilshire is responsible for selecting investment options for each asset category and recommends specific investment options for various model lineups. These model lineups provide plan sponsors choice and flexibility by allowing them to choose between pre-set menus or the option of creating a more customized lineup from a broader list of options. If sponsors follow Wilshire’s guideline recommendations and meet the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA’s) diversification requirements, Wilshire agrees to act as co-fiduciary as defined under section 3(21) of ERISA.  

The 3(38) Series is an optional benefit, available at an additional cost. This service gives Wilshire the authority to select and de-select investment options for a sponsor’s plan in accordance with its judgment of the performance of the investment managers. Under Section 3(38), Wilshire agrees, in writing, that it is the investment fiduciary for the plan with responsibility for investment selection and monitoring.  

“We are excited that our relationship with AXA Equitable will allow us to efficiently offer smaller businesses the independent investment advisory solutions and services we have been providing to institutional plans for decades,” said Jamie Ohl, president of Wilshire Funds Management, in the announcement.