investigations of pension fraud, money management abuse, wrongdoing, securities brokerages, pension investment consultants, unethical business practices, benchmark alert, institutional investors, plan sponsors
investigations of pension fraud, money management abuse, wrongdoing, securities brokerages, pension investment consultants, unethical business practices, benchmark alert, institutional investors, plan sponsors
 
investigations of pension fraud, money management abuse, wrongdoing, securities brokerages, pension investment consultants, unethical business practices, benchmark alert, institutional investors, plan sponsors
Investments: (January 20, 2009) Press Release: Palm Beach Money Manager Investigations/ Benchmark as Lead Plaintiff in FINRA Class Action
Money Matters

Press Release Benchmark Financial Services, Inc. January 20, 2009 Lake Worth, Florida

Posted by admin on Monday, July 13 @ 23:47:58 UTC (14337 reads)
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Investments: (September 10, 2008) Recall of Most of Nation's 401k Plans
Money Matters

What if financial products, like harmful consumer products, were subject to safety recalls? To stimulate national debate, we drafted this recall notice (using a children's toy recall issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission as our template) and sent it out as a press release. We don't know that there will ever be a recall of 401ks but there can be no denying the harm these plans have inflicted upon America's workers.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

NEWS from Benchmark Financial Services: 401k Recall

Office of Information and Public Affairs Ocean Ridge, FL 33435

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Firm's Recall Hotline: (561) 202-0919 October 9, 2008 Release #01-008

Posted by admin on Monday, July 13 @ 23:43:01 UTC (11264 reads)
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Investments: (May 19,2008) "Capping" 401k Revenue Sharing: Record-keepers Block Rebates To Participants
Money Matters



As Congress and the Department of Labor consider expanding expense disclosure to participants in the nation's 401k plans, the issue of "revenue sharing" payments between investment firms providing services to these plans, such as mutual funds and record-keepers, is being hotly debated. The mutual fund industry (which may well have invented the theory that too much disclosure can be harmful to investors) is arguing that as long as investors know the total expenses they are paying in their 401ks, how those fees are divvied up amongst the plan services providers is irrelevant. The industry says, "It's like buying a car. Consumers are told the sticker price of the whole car and make their decisions based upon that information, not based upon the price of all the various components."
Posted by admin on Monday, July 13 @ 23:38:43 UTC (11857 reads)
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Investments: (March 20,2008) Another Perspective on the Shifting 401(k) Landscape: David Witz of Fiduciary Risk Assessment LLC
Money Matters

March 20, 2008

Last month's "Alert" featured an interview with Fred Barstein, CEO of 401kExchange, Inc. In the interview Fred offered his insights on a number of emerging 401(k) issues. Fred is a respected voice in the retirement community; however, there were a number of issues he addressed that could be approached from a slightly different perspective. This month's counterpoint by David Witz of Fiduciary Risk Assessment LLC provides a thought provoking alternative viewpoint.



Barstein: Representatives of large plans are more
sophisticated and knowledgeable buyers.



Witz: Size is not indicative of sophistication or knowledge and
to presume that a buyer is more knowledgeable or more
sophisticated when they represent a large plan is
inconclusive. In fact, the only reliable observation we can
make about large retirement plans is that economies of
scale do apply. However, while it is true that large plans
may pay a lower cost per unit or a lower cost for managing
a larger pool of plan assets it is not consistent across
all large plans. For example, many of the largest plans use
retail mutual funds in their 401(k) plan no differently
than small plans at the same price point. If a fiduciary of
a large plan was more sophisticated you would think the
fiduciary would hire investment managers to manage a pool
of plan assets under a collective investment trust
structure at a lower negotiated management fee.

Posted by admin on Monday, July 13 @ 23:33:28 UTC (11620 reads)
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Investments: (December 15, 2007) Regulators Intensify Scrutiny of Pensions
Money Matters

State Securities Regulators and Law Enforcement Intensify Scrutiny of Pensions

(This article is adapted from a speech entitled “Pension Fraud: The Perfect Crime (Huge Gains, No One Complains)” presented at the Florida Department of Financial Regulation/North American State Securities Administrators Annual Broker-Dealer Training Conference in June 2005. Portions of the speech related to specific recommendations to state securities regulators and law enforcement have been omitted.)

Posted by admin on Thursday, July 16 @ 23:06:19 UTC (3279 reads)
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Investments: (October 29, 2008) Everyone Wants Kool Aid: Pruning the Money Management Tree
Money Matters October 29, 2008

(This article by Edward Siedle is included as a chapter in "Investment Management: Meeting the Noble Challenges of Funding Pensions, Deficits and Growth, Edited by Wayne Wagner and Ralph Rieves, published by John Wiley & Sons in 2009.)

The Dream

Some Make the Kool Aid; Some Sell the Kool Aid; Some Drink the Kool Aid. Everyone Wants Kool Aid.What's in the Kool Aid? It is the hope, myth, or dream that there are money managers out there who can outperform the market year after year, never giving back their superior results or reverting to the mean. The truth is few, if any, such managers exist. It is that simple. However, as long as everyone wants to believe it can be done, selling the dream will be a lucrative business. The Kool Aid will continue to briskly sell.
Posted by admin on Monday, July 13 @ 23:45:31 UTC (14402 reads)
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Investments: (July 2008) Securities Lending By Pensions: An Emerging Duty of Best Execution in Securities Lending?
Money Matters


The July 2008 alert includes two articles that deal with the esoteric subject of securities lending by retirement plans. For those of you that are unfamiliar with securities lending, generally borrowers, such as hedge funds, use the borrowed shares for short selling purposes. While securities lending is commonplace it is more controversial today than ever due to concerns regarding the impact of short sellers upon the financial markets. The first article concludes that pensions and funds would be challenged (due to a lack of transparency) to fully understand the details of the lending agreements they have entered into or the fees borrowers are paying intermediaries (such as prime brokers) to borrow plan securities. The second article, by the CEO of OneChicago LLC, discusses use of single stock futures to accomplish the same economic result as securities lending, without many of the risks.

________________________________________________________________________________________________


Securities Lending By Pensions: An Emerging Duty of Best Execution in Securities Lending?

Conclusion

The threshold question fiduciaries of retirement plans should consider is whether these plans as owners of securities should lend their shares to hedge funds and others for short selling purposes, incurring the risk that such shorting may cause the price of the portfolio securities to fall, default and other risks. Assuming plan fiduciaries determine that participation in lending programs may be worthwhile, despite the risks, then it is incumbent upon them to ensure that the owners are adequately compensated for the lendings. This requires not only a thorough understanding of the risks involved, but also the fees borrowers pay. Fiduciaries have a duty to maximize returns related to all plan assets, including securities involved in lending programs. We believe the parties owning the assets should receive the lion's share of the returns related to the lendings.

Posted by admin on Monday, July 13 @ 23:41:46 UTC (11977 reads)
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Investments: (April 8, 2008) Corporate Sponsors Agree: 401(k) Plan Results Don't Matter
Money Matters April 8, 2008



"As long as your process is good, your results don't matter!"

It's Sunday March 2, 2008 and here we are at the Pensions & Investments Defined Contribution Conference-East Coast held in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. We've been invited to speak at a two-hour closed-door session entitled, Fiduciary Governance Workshop limited to plan sponsors only. For two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon at a major golf resort with the Honda Classic in progress, the two-hour session is well-attended. One sponsor remarks before we get started that she found this session at last year's conference the most informative of any because sponsors were given the straight scoop, as opposed to being sold product by investment firms underwriting the conference.
Posted by admin on Monday, July 13 @ 23:35:05 UTC (11286 reads)
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Investments: (February 15, 2008 ) Challenges to 401ks Continue: A Conversation with Fred Barstein, CEO of 401kExchange
Money Matters

Siedle: Recently there have been a number of lawsuits filed against 401k plan sponsors alleging excessive fees and a failure on the part of sponsors to monitor and disclose fees. These cases have been filed on behalf of participants of some of the largest plans in the country. Don't the largest plans generally have the lowest fees?
Posted by admin on Monday, July 13 @ 23:31:20 UTC (11532 reads)
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Investments: (November 21, 2007 ) The Long Overdue Florida Public Pension Clean-Up
Money Matters

In 2002 we gave a speech at the annual Florida Police and Firefighters Pension Trustee Educational Seminar entitled, "The Best Investment Advice: Fundamental Truths about the Business of Managing Your Money." In the speech we warned Florida public pension trustees that brokers employed by the major firms as investment consultants were subject to conflicts of interest and were engaged in pay-to-play schemes whereby money managers were recommended based upon willingness to pay versus investment merits. Many of the trustees we met boasted of the low fees their funds paid their investment consultants for supposedly objective investment advice regarding asset allocation and manager selection. Some trustees even said they were getting investment consulting services "for free." In response to which we made the following outrageous, better offer: "We will pay you $1 million to be your pension consultant." We then went on to explain that we could offer to pay them this sum because, by virtue of serving as the gatekeeper to their funds, we could earn far more than $1 million in brokerage kickbacks from their money managers.


Posted by admin on Monday, July 13 @ 23:28:24 UTC (3290 reads)
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BenchmarkAlert.com
79 Island Drive South, Ocean Ridge, Florida 33435
561-202-0919
Email:
esiedle@aol.com