WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today published a request for information on the use of brokerage windows, self-directed brokerage accounts and similar features in 401(k)-type plans. The RFI will appear in the Aug. 21 edition of the Federal Register and can also be viewed at https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-19832.
Some 401(k)-type plans offer participants access to brokerage windows in addition to, or in place of, specific investment options chosen by the employer or another plan fiduciary. These "window" arrangements can enable or require individual participants to choose for themselves from a broad range of investments. The department received a number of questions about brokerage windows following the 2012 publication of a final regulation on participant-level fee disclosure.
"We promised employers and other plan sponsors and fiduciaries that we would look into the use of brokerage window features," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi. "Our goal in issuing this RFI is to determine whether, and to what extent, regulatory standards or other guidance concerning the use of brokerage windows may be necessary to adequately protect participants' retirement savings."
The RFI asks questions concerning brokerage windows, including: the scope of investment options typically available through a window; demographic and other information about participants who commonly use brokerage windows; the process of selecting a brokerage window and provider for a plan; the costs of brokerage windows; and what kind of information about brokerage windows and underlying investment options typically is available and disclosed to participants. Comments are due by Nov. 19, 2014.
The RFI contains instructions on how to submit public comments electronically by email to E-ORI@dol.gov or through the federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Written comments may also be sent to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Regulations and Interpretations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, N-5655, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20210, Attn: Brokerage Window RFI.