Todd Solomon and Brian Tiemann presented on alternative investments for pension plans during the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Conference in Chicago. They discussed various rules benefit plan investors should consider, including the “look-through” rule and the “significant” investment rule. They also addressed common hedge fund structural and operational issues, and problems if a fund holds ERISA plan assets.
Managers of private equity funds who are responsible for investing the assets of a fund that holds plan assets are likely to be considered a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA). ERISA imposes numerous duties on fiduciaries, and those who fail to meet ERISA’s standards may be personally liable to restore plan losses, disgorge profits made through the use of plan assets, and pay additional statutory penalties imposed by the Department of Labor. The fiduciary may also face criminal penalties if found guilty of wilful failure. It is therefore vitally important that fiduciaries are fully aware of all their duties under ERISA.