News

George Michael Gerstein Interviewed About GSAM’s New ESG ETF

Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s new JUST U.S. Large Cap Equity ETF (JUST) hauled in $250 million in its first day of trading. I speak to Fund Intelligence about ESG product development.

BlackRock and Wells Fargo: ESG options in 401(k) plans

Galvin asserts that state law was basis for complaint against Scottrade

New York’s Investment Transparency Act Advances in Assembly

New York’s Investment Transparency Act, which intends to apply to broker-dealers that provide investment advice, would impose additional disclosure requirements (“I am not a fiduciary”). The bill was introduced on January 20, 2017, Inauguration Day, and is sponsored by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

Fifth Circuit Urged to (Finally) Vacate the DOL Fiduciary Rule

Parties to the litigation submitted a letter today urging the Court to officially vacate the DOL Fiduciary Rule. The letter can be found here.

ESG Growth in Hedge Fund Space

One of the top-of-mind issues for plan investment committees is the selection of asset class to incorporate ESG factors. Most of the attention has been on public equities, but institutional investors are increasingly asking service providers about other asset classes. Recent survey results show greater interest in pursuing an ESG strategy via hedge funds. This, of course, begs the important question as to how a committee could assess and select a hedge fund manager that has the resources and experience to effect such a strategy. Consultants and others can help in manager selection. UN PRI also provides guidance on selecting ESG hedge funds.

5th Circuit mandate to vacate DOL fiduciary rule ‘still pending’

I was interviewed by InvestmentNews on the current state of play re. the DOL Fiduciary Rule.

Smooth Implementation of China A-Shares in MSCI EM Index

We’ve been following developments re. China A Shares, as investment managers continue to ask about the fiduciary implications of entering this market.

George Michael Gerstein Sits Down With 401(k) Specialist Magazine to Discuss Fiduciary Implications of ESG Investing

Extract from 401(k) Specialist Magazine: “Does anyone have a concise definition of ESG? Anyone? Neither do we. It’s one of the main sticking points for many 401k advisors and their plan sponsor clients when constructing investment menus with environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in mind. The DOL and similar regulatory bodies have made attempts at guidance to help clear it all up (most notable in 2008, 2015 and just last month), but true to form with government “help,” it’s too often anything but. Which is why we called George Michael Gerstein, Fiduciary Governance Group Co-Chair with legal powerhouse Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young. Gerstein has followed the issue closely and cleared much of the confusion during a presentation and panel at Fi360’s annual conference in San Diego in April. He took some time to answer the most common questions he’s getting on the topic, and the red flags 401k advisors, sponsors and participants should watch for when entering the space.” A link to the Q&A can be found here.

FX Global Code turns 1 – what does it mean for fiduciaries?

As  I articulated in Profit & Loss, “Though [the FX Global Code] does not have the force of law, it can serve as a useful springboard for fiduciaries to buttress risk controls and fiduciary awareness over an industry that seems obscure to some. The Code can catalyse a change from disengagement and insufficient understanding of common (and, in certain instances, controversial) FX practices to engagement and a deeper understanding of a market whose products are in so many investment policy statements and mandates of retirement plans.” I wrote that the Code’s voluntary nature opened the door to plan investment committees and investment managers the opportunity to gauge the level of the FX service provider’s engagement with the Code and how such engagement (or lack thereof) could implicate their fiduciary duties. I opined: “However, the genius of the Code is that not all principles apply to each market participant, and, as a result, requires at least an active review of the Code to determine which principles apply to a particular market participant, including a fiduciary. An investment committee that outsources currency hedging to a third party may have an interest in how that third party will plan to adhere to the Code. Through awareness comes engagement with service providers. Because the Code’s principles set forth good practice in the market, a plan fiduciary should become aware of the Code and internalise it.” My full op-ed can be found here.