29 CFR 2550.404c-5 - Fiduciary relief for investments in qualified default investment alternatives.

§ 2550.404c-5 Fiduciary relief for investments in qualified default investment alternatives.
(a) In general.
(1) This section implements the fiduciary relief provided under section 404(c)(5) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA or the Act), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., under which a participant or beneficiary in an individual account plan will be treated as exercising control over the assets in his or her account for purposes of ERISA section 404(c)(1) with respect to the amount of contributions and earnings that, in the absence of an investment election by the participant, are invested by the plan in accordance with this regulation. If a participant or beneficiary is treated as exercising control over the assets in his or her account in accordance with ERISA section 404(c)(1) no person who is otherwise a fiduciary shall be liable under part 4 of title I of ERISA for any loss or by reason of any breach which results from such participant's or beneficiary's exercise of control. Except as specifically provided in paragraph (c)(6) of this section, a plan need not meet the requirements for an ERISA section 404(c) plan under 29 CFR 2550.404c-1 in order for a plan fiduciary to obtain the relief under this section.
(2) The standards set forth in this section apply solely for purposes of determining whether a fiduciary meets the requirements of this regulation. Such standards are not intended to be the exclusive means by which a fiduciary might satisfy his or her responsibilities under the Act with respect to the investment of assets in the individual account of a participant or beneficiary.
(b) Fiduciary relief.
(1) Except as provided in paragraphs (b)(2), (3), and (4) of this section, a fiduciary of an individual account plan that permits participants or beneficiaries to direct the investment of assets in their accounts and that meets the conditions of paragraph (c) of this section shall not be liable for any loss, or by reason of any breach under part 4 of title I of ERISA, that is the direct and necessary result of (i) investing all or part of a participant's or beneficiary's account in any qualified default investment alternative within the meaning of paragraph (e) of this section, or (ii) investment decisions made by the entity described in paragraph (e)(3) of this section in connection with the management of a qualified default investment alternative.
(2) Nothing in this section shall relieve a fiduciary from his or her duties under part 4 of title I of ERISA to prudently select and monitor any qualified default investment alternative under the plan or from any liability that results from a failure to satisfy these duties, including liability for any resulting losses.
(3) Nothing in this section shall relieve any fiduciary described in paragraph (e)(3)(i) of this section from its fiduciary duties under part 4 of title I of ERISA or from any liability that results from a failure to satisfy these duties, including liability for any resulting losses.
(4) Nothing in this section shall provide relief from the prohibited transaction provisions of section 406 of ERISA, or from any liability that results from a violation of those provisions, including liability for any resulting losses.
(c) Conditions. With respect to the investment of assets in the individual account of a participant or beneficiary, a fiduciary shall qualify for the relief described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section if:
(1) Assets are invested in a qualified default investment alternative within the meaning of paragraph (e) of this section;
(2) The participant or beneficiary on whose behalf the investment is made had the opportunity to direct the investment of the assets in his or her account but did not direct the investment of the assets;
(3) The participant or beneficiary on whose behalf an investment in a qualified default investment alternative may be made is furnished a notice that meets the requirements of paragraph (d) of this section:
(i)
(A) At least 30 days in advance of the date of plan eligibility, or at least 30 days in advance of the date of any first investment in a qualified default investment alternative on behalf of a participant or beneficiary described in paragraph (c)(2) of this section; or
(B) On or before the date of plan eligibility provided the participant has the opportunity to make a permissible withdrawal (as determined under section 414(w) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (Code)); and
(ii) Within a reasonable period of time of at least 30 days in advance of each subsequent plan year;
(4) A fiduciary provides to a participant or beneficiary the material set forth in 29 CFR 2550.404c-1(b)(2)(i)(B)(1)(viii) and (ix) and 29 CFR 404c-1(b)(2)(i)(B)(2) relating to a participant's or beneficiary's investment in a qualified default investment alternative;
(5)
(i) Any participant or beneficiary on whose behalf assets are invested in a qualified default investment alternative may transfer, in whole or in part, such assets to any other investment alternative available under the plan with a frequency consistent with that afforded to a participant or beneficiary who elected to invest in the qualified default investment alternative, but not less frequently than once within any three month period;
(ii)
(A) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(5)(ii)(B) of this section, any transfer described in paragraph (c)(5)(i), or any permissible withdrawal as determined under section 414(w)(2) of the Code, by a participant or beneficiary of assets invested in a qualified default investment alternative, in whole or in part, resulting from the participant's or beneficiary's election to make such a transfer or withdrawal during the 90-day period beginning on the date of the participant's first elective contribution as determined under section 414(w)(2)(B) of the Code, or other first investment in a qualified default investment alternative on behalf of a participant or beneficiary described in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, shall not be subject to any restrictions, fees or expenses (including surrender charges, liquidation or exchange fees, redemption fees and similar expenses charged in connection with the liquidation of, or transfer from, the investment);
(B) Paragraph (c)(5)(ii)(A) of this section shall not apply to fees and expenses that are charged on an ongoing basis for the operation of the investment itself (such as investment management fees, distribution and/or service fees, “12b-1” fees, or legal, accounting, transfer agent and similar administrative expenses), and are not imposed, or do not vary, based on a participant's or beneficiary's decision to withdraw, sell or transfer assets out of the qualified default investment alternative; and
(iii) Following the end of the 90-day period described in paragraph (c)(5)(ii)(A) of this section, any transfer or permissible withdrawal described in this paragraph (c)(5) of this section shall not be subject to any restrictions, fees or expenses not otherwise applicable to a participant or beneficiary who elected to invest in that qualified default investment alternative; and
(6) The plan offers a “broad range of investment alternatives” within the meaning of 29 CFR 2550.404c-1(b)(3).
(d) Notice. The notice required by paragraph (c)(3) of this section shall be written in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant and shall contain the following:
(1) A description of the circumstances under which assets in the individual account of a participant or beneficiary may be invested on behalf of the participant or beneficiary in a qualified default investment alternative; and, if applicable, an explanation of the circumstances under which elective contributions will be made on behalf of a participant, the percentage of such contributions, and the right of the participant to elect not to have such contributions made on the participant's behalf (or to elect to have such contributions made at a different percentage);
(2) An explanation of the right of participants and beneficiaries to direct the investment of assets in their individual accounts;
(3) A description of the qualified default investment alternative, including a description of the investment objectives, risk and return characteristics (if applicable), and fees and expenses attendant to the investment alternative;
(4) A description of the right of the participants and beneficiaries on whose behalf assets are invested in a qualified default investment alternative to direct the investment of those assets to any other investment alternative under the plan, including a description of any applicable restrictions, fees or expenses in connection with such transfer; and
(5) An explanation of where the participants and beneficiaries can obtain investment information concerning the other investment alternatives available under the plan.
(e) Qualified default investment alternative. For purposes of this section, a qualified default investment alternative means an investment alternative available to participants and beneficiaries that:
(1)
(i) Does not hold or permit the acquisition of employer securities, except as provided in paragraph (ii).
(ii) Paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section shall not apply to: (A) Employer securities held or acquired by an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 or a similar pooled investment vehicle regulated and subject to periodic examination by a State or Federal agency and with respect to which investment in such securities is made in accordance with the stated investment objectives of the investment vehicle and independent of the plan sponsor or an affiliate thereof; or (B) with respect to a qualified default investment alternative described in paragraph (e)(4)(iii) of this section, employer securities acquired as a matching contribution from the employer/plan sponsor, or employer securities acquired prior to management by the investment management service to the extent the investment management service has discretionary authority over the disposition of such employer securities;
(2) Satisfies the requirements of paragraph (c)(5) of this section regarding the ability of a participant or beneficiary to transfer, in whole or in part, his or her investment from the qualified default investment alternative to any other investment alternative available under the plan;
(3) Is:
(i) Managed by: (A) an investment manager, within the meaning of section 3(38) of the Act; (B) a trustee of the plan that meets the requirements of section 3(38)(A), (B) and (C) of the Act; or
(C) the plan sponsor, or a committee comprised primarily of employees of the plan sponsor, which is a named fiduciary within the meaning of section 402(a)(2) of the Act;
(ii) An investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940; or
(iii) An investment product or fund described in paragraph (e)(4)(iv) or (v) of this section; and
(4) Constitutes one of the following:
(i) An investment fund product or model portfolio that applies generally accepted investment theories, is diversified so as to minimize the risk of large losses and that is designed to provide varying degrees of long-term appreciation and capital preservation through a mix of equity and fixed income exposures based on the participant's age, target retirement date (such as normal retirement age under the plan) or life expectancy. Such products and portfolios change their asset allocations and associated risk levels over time with the objective of becoming more conservative (i.e., decreasing risk of losses) with increasing age. For purposes of this paragraph (e)(4)(i), asset allocation decisions for such products and portfolios are not required to take into account risk tolerances, investments or other preferences of an individual participant. An example of such a fund or portfolio may be a “life-cycle” or “targeted-retirement-date” fund or account.
(ii) An investment fund product or model portfolio that applies generally accepted investment theories, is diversified so as to minimize the risk of large losses and that is designed to provide long-term appreciation and capital preservation through a mix of equity and fixed income exposures consistent with a target level of risk appropriate for participants of the plan as a whole. For purposes of this paragraph (e)(4)(ii), asset allocation decisions for such products and portfolios are not required to take into account the age, risk tolerances, investments or other preferences of an individual participant. An example of such a fund or portfolio may be a “balanced” fund.
(iii) An investment management service with respect to which a fiduciary, within the meaning of paragraph (e)(3)(i) of this section, applying generally accepted investment theories, allocates the assets of a participant's individual account to achieve varying degrees of long-term appreciation and capital preservation through a mix of equity and fixed income exposures, offered through investment alternatives available under the plan, based on the participant's age, target retirement date (such as normal retirement age under the plan) or life expectancy. Such portfolios are diversified so as to minimize the risk of large losses and change their asset allocations and associated risk levels for an individual account over time with the objective of becoming more conservative (i.e., decreasing risk of losses) with increasing age. For purposes of this paragraph (e)(4)(iii), asset allocation decisions are not required to take into account risk tolerances, investments or other preferences of an individual participant. An example of such a service may be a “managed account.”
(iv)
(A) Subject to paragraph (e)(4)(iv)(B) of this section, an investment product or fund designed to preserve principal and provide a reasonable rate of return, whether or not such return is guaranteed, consistent with liquidity. Such investment product shall for purposes of this paragraph (e)(4)(iv):
(1) Seek to maintain, over the term of the investment, the dollar value that is equal to the amount invested in the product; and
(2) Be offered by a State or federally regulated financial institution.
(B) An investment product described in this paragraph (e)(4)(iv) shall constitute a qualified default investment alternative for purposes of paragraph (e) of this section for not more than 120 days after the date of the participant's first elective contribution (as determined under section 414(w)(2)(B) of the Code).
(v)
(A) Subject to paragraph (e)(4)(v)(B) of this section, an investment product or fund designed to preserve principal; provide a rate of return generally consistent with that earned on intermediate investment grade bonds; and provide liquidity for withdrawals by participants and beneficiaries, including transfers to other investment alternatives. Such investment product or fund shall, for purposes of this paragraph (e)(4)(v), meet the following requirements:
(1) There are no fees or surrender charges imposed in connection with withdrawals initiated by a participant or beneficiary; and
(2) Such investment product or fund invests primarily in investment products that are backed by State or federally regulated financial institutions.
(B) An investment product or fund described in this paragraph (e)(4)(v) shall constitute a qualified default investment alternative for purposes of paragraph (e) of this section solely for purposes of assets invested in such product or fund before December 24, 2007.
(vi) An investment fund product or model portfolio that otherwise meets the requirements of this section shall not fail to constitute a product or portfolio for purposes of paragraph (e)(4)(i) or (ii) of this section solely because the product or portfolio is offered through variable annuity or similar contracts or through common or collective trust funds or pooled investment funds and without regard to whether such contracts or funds provide annuity purchase rights, investment guarantees, death benefit guarantees or other features ancillary to the investment fund product or model portfolio.
(f) Preemption of State laws.
(1) Section 514(e)(1) of the Act provides that title I of the Act supersedes any State law that would directly or indirectly prohibit or restrict the inclusion in any plan of an automatic contribution arrangement. For purposes of section 514(e) of the Act and this paragraph (f), an automatic contribution arrangement is an arrangement (or the provisions of a plan) under which:
(i) A participant may elect to have the plan sponsor make payments as contributions under the plan on his or her behalf or receive such payments directly in cash;
(ii) A participant is treated as having elected to have the plan sponsor make such contributions in an amount equal to a uniform percentage of compensation provided under the plan until the participant specifically elects not to have such contributions made (or specifically elects to have such contributions made at a different percentage); and
(iii) Contributions are invested in accordance with paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section.
(2) A State law that would directly or indirectly prohibit or restrict the inclusion in any pension plan of an automatic contribution arrangement is superseded as to any pension plan, regardless of whether such plan includes an automatic contribution arrangement as defined in paragraph (f)(1) of this section.
(3) The administrator of an automatic contribution arrangement within the meaning of paragraph (f)(1) of this section shall be considered to have satisfied the notice requirements of section 514(e)(3) of the Act if notices are furnished in accordance with paragraphs (c)(3) and (d) of this section.
(4) Nothing in this paragraph (f) precludes a pension plan from including an automatic contribution arrangement that does not meet the conditions of paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section.
[72 FR 60478, Oct. 24, 2007; 73 FR 23350, Apr. 30, 2008]

Title 29 published on 2014-07-01

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Title 29 published on 2014-07-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 29 CFR 2550 after this date.

  • 2014-08-21; vol. 79 # 162 - Thursday, August 21, 2014
    1. 79 FR 49469 - Request for Information Regarding Standards for Brokerage Windows in Participant-Directed Individual Account Plans
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      DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Employee Benefits Security Administration
      Request for information.
      Comments must be submitted on or before November 19, 2014.
      29 CFR Parts 2520 and 2550