MassMutual has announced a new partnership with registeredinvestment advisory Envestnet Retirement Solutions.

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Chicago-based ERS, a subsidiary ofEnvestnet, Inc., provides open-architecture platform technology forRIA advisors to plan sponsors.

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In partnering with MassMutual’s proprietary Fiduciary Assureprogram, ERS will give fiduciary support for MassMutual advisorswho serve retirement plan sponsors.

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In a statement, MassMutual did not reference the recentlyfinalized Department of Labor fiduciary rule, which will requireall advisors to plans with less than $50 million in assets to actas fiduciaries.

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Tina Wilson, senior vice president of MassMutual RetirementServices, only said, “the latest enhancements are partof an ongoing program to provide more robust fiduciarysupport.”

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According to new marketing literature for the Fiduciary Assureprogram, ERS uses a “quantitative and qualitative” selectionmethodology to assure the investments sponsors offer meet theirfiduciary requirements to act in participants’ best interests underthe Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

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ERS then develops an Approved List and a Select List ofinvestment options for sponsors and advisors to choose from.

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The Approved List represents a “broad range of investmentoptions” that satisfies ERISA’s requirement that plan fiduciariesoffer at least one investment option from each core assetclass—domestic equity, international equity, fixed income, and cashor a cash equivalent investment.

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The Select List broadens the options under each subset ofrequired options, “and can be chosen in its entirety” for a plan’sinvestment lineup, according to the marketing material.

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ERS then provides sponsors with a quarterly report to assist intheir monitoring requirements as fiduciaries.

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In acting as a 3(21) fiduciary, ERS serves as an investmentco-fiduciary for the investment options on its Approved List.

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In offering that advice for a fee, ERS accepts fiduciaryresponsibilities “only for the investment selection and monitoringof the investments” on the Approved and Select Lists.

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Under ERISA, the 3(21) advisory designation is lesscomprehensive than the 3(38) designation, which gives advisorsdiscretion over plan assets.

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Under the Fiduciary Assure program, ERS will not assume“discretion, authority or control over plan assets,” according toan explanation in MassMutual’s marketing material.

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In a statement, MassMutual said it also plans to expand its3(38) fiduciary program, but did not provide a specifictimeline.

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Recent proprietary research from MassMutual showed 61 percent ofplan sponsors who work with an advisor are concerned about theirfiduciary obligations.

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One in two plan sponsors said they were not fiduciaries or wereunsure of their fiduciary status, underscoring the need for greatersponsor support, according to MassMutual.

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.