Disclosures Required From Service Providers to Certain Plans
On February 3, 2012, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued the long awaited final regulation requiring certain pension plan service providers to disclose information ab
out their compensation and potential conflicts of interest (the “Final Regulation”). The Final Regulation was established under Section 408(b)(2) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). While ERISA generally prohibits the furnishing of goods, services, or facilities between a plan and a party in interest to the plan, Section 408(b)(2) provides relief from such prohibited transactions. It allows service contracts or arrangements if they are reasonable, the services are necessary for the establishment or operation of the plan, and no more than reasonable is paid for the services. The Final Regulation became effective on July 1, 2012.
Covered Service Providers and Covered Plans
The Final Regulation applies to the following covered service providers (“CSPs”) who expect to receive at least $1,000 in compensation for services to a covered plan:
• ERISA fiduciaries providing services directly to a covered plan (including fund managers).
• Federal or state law registered investment advisers.
• Record-keepers or brokers who make designated investment alternatives to the covered plan.
• Providers of one or more of the following services to the covered plan who also receive indirect compensation in connection with such services: accounting, auditing, actuarial, banking, consulting, custodial, insurance, investment advisory, legal, recordkeeping, securities brokerage, third party administration, or valuation services.
The Final Regulation applies to ERISA-covered defined benefit and defined contribution plan such as pension plans and 401(k) plans.
Final Regulation Disclosure Requirements
Covered service providers must provide responsible ERISA fiduciaries with the information they need to:
• Evaluate the reasonableness of total direct and indirect compensation received by the CSP, its affiliates, and/or subcontractors;
• Ascertain potential conflicts of interest; and
• Fulfill reporting and disclosure requirements under Title I of ERISA.
The required information must be furnished in writing reasonably in advance of the date any service contract or arrangement is entered into. Such writing must describe the provided services and all compensation to be received. CSPs who disclose indirect compensation must describe the arrangements between the payer and CSP pursuant to which such compensation is paid, identifying the sources of such compensation and the services to which it relates. Furthermore, CSPs must disclose whether they are providing recordkeeping services and the compensation attributable to such services.
Conclusion for Fund Managers
Fund managers with ERISA clients will need to begin drafting and providing these disclosures to such clients. This will be another requirement for start up fund managers to consider when deciding whether to take on ERISA clients. While ultimately the disclosures are not extremely onerous, they do add another to-do to a manager’s list.
Please contact us if you have questions or if you would like help drafting the disclosure required under 408(b)(2).
Bart Mallon is a partner with Cole-Frieman Mallon & Hunt LLP, an investment management law firm which provides legal services to the hedge fund industry. Bart can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.