Robert R. Gower

CalSavers vs. Qualified Employee Benefit Plans: Choosing the Right Retirement Plan in California

CATHERINE REAGAN and ROBERT GOWER, March 30, 2023 For employers operating in California who are considering alternatives to the CalSavers program, there are a number of qualified employee benefit plan options that may be a good fit. CalSavers is a program created by state law to help California residents save money for retirement. Today, most […]

Mitigating Fiduciary Risk: Lessons Learned About the Prudent Person Rule After Fifteen Years of Fee Litigation

DYLAN D. RUDOLPH and ROBERT R. GOWER, July, 2021  The uptick in lawsuits now commonly referred to as “excessive fee” fiduciary breach litigation began on September 11, 2006, when a St. Louis firm, Schlichter Bogard & Denton, filed its initial tranche of lawsuits against the fiduciaries of multiple large corporate 401(k) plans. In the fifteen […]

A Pecuniary Focus: Department of Labor Issues Final Rule on Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments

ROBER R. GOWER, November 12, 2020  On October 30, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule (the “Final Rule”) amending the investment duties regulation under Section 404(a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The significant and much-anticipated Final Rule updates the existing investment duties regulation framework to provide […]

DOL Proposes to Formally Regulate ESG Investing

ROBERT R. GOWER, July 9, 2020   On June 30, 2020, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) published a Proposed Rule in the Federal Register seeking to formalize guidance concerning environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations in selecting investments for plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Background ESG considerations […]

IRS Issues Coronavirus-Related FAQs for Retirement Plans and IRAs

ADRINE ADJEMIAN and ROBERT R. GOWER, June 8, 2020    On May 4, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a limited set of FAQs providing administrative guidance addressing the special “coronavirus-related distribution” (CRD) and plan loan provisions under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). As anticipated, the guidance draws […]

U.S. Senate Committee Eyes Lack of Guidance on ERISA Cybersecurity

ROBERT R. GOWER and FREEMAN L. LEVINRAD, April, 2019      It seems that every day, a new high-profile data breach is in the news. With increased reliance on the internet to transmit personal information, the potential for breaches has grown significantly. Defined contribution plans, which now hold over $5 trillion in assets, are by […]

DOL Fiduciary Rule – Still Very Much Alive

ROBERT R. GOWER, December 7, 2017 On November 29, 2017, the Department of Labor (the DOL) released a final rule (the “final rule”) extending the transition period for compliance with certain requirements of the Conflict of Interest Rulemaking package (commonly known as the “Fiduciary Rule”) by 18 months to July 1, 2019.1 While certain requirements […]

Fiduciary Rule to Go Live June 9, 2017

NICHOLAS WHITE, ROBERT GOWER and ADRINE ADJEMIAN, May 2017    Following months of uncertainty stemming from a February 3, 2017, Presidential memorandum ordering the Secretary of Labor to conduct a review of the final fiduciary advice regulatory package (the “Final Rule”), including a 60-day delay in its applicability date, it seems all but certain the […]

DOL Issues Temporary Enforcement Policy Regarding the Fiduciary Rule

ROBERT R. GOWER, March 2017    On Friday, March 10, 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) published on its website Field Assistance Bulletin 2017-01 (“the FAB”) providing a temporary enforcement policy for the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule and related Best Interest Contract Exemption (“BICE”). The Fiduciary Rule and BICE, which have become the subject of reevaluation […]

The Fiduciary Rule Is Under Review, but What Does that Mean?

ROBERT R. GOWER, February 2017   On Friday, February 3, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order calling for the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) to review the DOL Fiduciary Rule (the “Rule”), which is scheduled (by its terms) to become applicable on April 10, 2017. The implications of the request for review may […]

Form 5500 as a Compliance Tool: Changes Today, Changes Tomorrow

ROBERT R. GOWER, July 2016 Sponsors of calendar-year qualified plans working to complete the 2015 Form 5500 (Annual Return / Report of Employee Benefit Plan) by the extended filing deadline of October 15, 2016 may have noticed a handful of revisions to the Form 5500 for the 2015 plan year. These “compliance-focused” revisions indicate areas […]

The Retro-Effect: Outstanding Issues in Qualified Plan Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage as Highlighted by Schuett v. FedEx

ROBERT R. GOWER, January 2016 – On January 4, 2016, an order issued by U.S. District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton in Schuett v. FedEx Corp., (No. 15-CV-0189-PJH, 2016 WL 104267 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 4, 2016)) brought light to a long anticipated question surrounding the retroactive application of the United States Supreme Court opinion in United […]

IRS Issues Guidance Addressing the Impact of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell Decision on Qualified Retirement and Health and Welfare Plans

ROBERT R. GOWER and ERIC J. SCHILLINGER, January 2016 — On December 9, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued Notice 2015-86, providing guidance on the application of the June 26, 2015 United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (“Obergefell”) to qualified retirement plans under Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) section 401(a) and health […]

Significant Changes to Qualified Plans Determination Letter Program Underway

ROBERT R. GOWER, July 2015 — On July 21, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) released Announcement 2015-19, announcing a significant curtailment of the IRS determination letter program for individually designed retirement plans. Announcement 2015-19 eliminates the five-year remedial amendment cycle for individually designed retirement plans and restricts the IRS determination letter program to limited […]

DOL Proposed Fiduciary Rule: A Significant Second Take

ROBERT R. GOWER, May 2015 — After years back at the drawing board following the withdrawal of proposed fiduciary regulations issued in 2010, on April 20, 2015, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a new proposed rulemaking package that more broadly defines the circumstances in which a person who provides “investment advice” may […]