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February 2022

Back to the Basics – Pay Special Attention to the Fund Menu.

At some point, a certain amount of apathy and blasé comes to those who watch legal proceedings relevant to retirement plans. Another excessive fee lawsuit involving overpriced funds. More performance lagging investments. Failure to negotiate rising recordkeeping costs. However, a unanimous, swift, and pointed proclamation from the Supreme Court merits attention. And the most recent treatise demands that plan sponsors and their advisors go back to the basics with respect to retirement plan fund menus.In the matter of Hughes v. Northwestern University, SCOTUS rejected the idea that a fiduciary can escape the legal challenge of having imprudent investment options in the plan, as long as there are other, prudent options. Rather, the Court reinforced the notion that plan fiduciaries must monitor “all” plan investments and remove “any” imprudent ones. Furthermore, fiduciaries must consider all the investments “at regular intervals” to ensure that they are prudent. Is this being done? As a plan sponsor or a retirement plan advisor, are you regularly reviewing your plan’s fund menu? With all the focus on “financial wellness” and “fiduciary training,” let’s not forget the basics: Fiduciaries must actively review plan investment options, ideally against stated criteria, at regular intervals. Equally important is documentation of