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Rating:A 401k Trade Group Joins the Chorus Singing Against Money Fund Reform Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, September 16, 2013

A 401k Trade Group Joins the Chorus Singing Against Money Fund Reform

Reported by GI

The SPARK Institute, a Connecticut-based retirement plan industry trade group, is the latest in a long procession of critics to weigh in on the SEC's proposed reforms to money market funds, sending a letter today to the financial regulatory body calling for changes to the pending rules.

The rules, as noted in MFWire's original story on the SEC reform approval, could take the form of a few "alternatives": a floated NAV for money funds, redemption fees and suspensions (or "gates") due to a drop in liquidity, or a combined alternative meshing the two.

"Our main concern here is that retirement plan service providers continue to be able to make money market funds available to retirement plans," Larry Goldbrum, general counsel for SPARK, told MFWire. As is, the proposals "are not operationally and administratively feasible," risking to reduce or entirely eliminate 401(k) plan providers and plan sponsors from offering money funds in their retirement portfolios.

The letter, which falls within the SEC's 90-day public comment window (ending tomorrow), argues that the floated NAV option is "the most operationally feasible," according to Goldbrum, with the fees and gates posing "significant problems" and the combined alternative being "the worst of all worlds."

The SEC "should not adopt the combined alternative under any circumstances," Goldbrum said, because it takes problematic aspects of both alternatives and fuses them into something that's administratively unworkable.

As of end-March 2013, defined-contribution retirement plans had $151 billion invested in money market funds, and as such, "we know that this affects thousands of [401(k)] plans and millions of plan participants," Goldbrum said to MFWire.

SPARK's is one of several voices that have joined in on the regulation-bashing since its approval in June. The group includes, most recently, Charles Schwab, Fidelity and the heads of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks

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