On June 3, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance stating its view that plan sponsors of 401(k) and other defined contribution plans may offer participants access to alternative assets (including private equity funds) through broadly diversified investment options such as target date funds. Although this guidance does not change the law, it may encourage plan sponsors who have been hesitant to offer such products to incorporate alternative assets into their plans.
As the various stakeholders choose to prepare for this opportunity, the following initial steps should be considered:
- Target date fund managers will need to decide whether and how they will incorporate alternative investments into their product offerings and how they plan to address the valuation and liquidity needs of plan sponsors and their participants.
- Alternative asset allocators (such as fund of funds managers) should consider how to construct durable asset allocation products that include a good pipeline for future opportunities as 401(k) plan participants’ needs change over time and that can scale up or down in size. Additionally, they should consider how they will comply with their fiduciary duties under ERISA.
- Alternative fund managers should begin to explore whether and how they can tailor products and investments to better suit the needs of defined contribution plan investors.
- Plan fiduciaries should follow an objective, thorough and analytical process, which considers all relevant facts and circumstances, when evaluating investment products such as alternative assets.
Please stay tuned for details on our upcoming webinar covering the DOL guidance.
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