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Remember those investment consultants from the 1990s? They’d arrive all prim and proper into the 401(k) plan sponsors’ conference room and slam a thick volume of solid paper on the table. They would then open their benchmark bible to the first chapter: numerology. In fact, every chapter was titled “Numerology” and, save for a few colorful pie charts, everything else was dry, black-and-white data. And the C-suite of sponsors smiled as if they understood. 

They didn’t. And that was maybe the ultimate objective of the consultant – make it so complicated they just couldn’t fire you. Only you knew how to interpret the tea leaves of the 401(k) plan which the DOL held them – and, back then, for the most part, only them – accountable. They might not have known how to precisely measure their fiduciary liability, but these executives knew the word “liable” – and they didn’t like it. 

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