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Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Schapiro Addresses Mutual Fund Directors

SEC Chair Mary Schapiro gave an Address at the Mutual Fund Directors Forum Ninth Annual Policy Conference: Critical Issues for Investment Company Directors, on May 4, 2009.  Among the topics covered was target date mutual funds:

However, target date funds have produced some troubling investment results. The average loss in 2008 among 31 funds with a 2010 retirement date was almost 25 percent. In addition, varying strategies among these funds produced widely varying results. Returns of 2010 target date funds ranged from minus 3.6% to minus 41 percent.

One explanation put forward for these outcomes is that many target date funds underlying retirement plans actually establish their "glide paths" based on the assumption that investors will continue to maintain their investments, and partially live off the proceeds, for a number of years following retirement. If that is the case, it must be plainly disclosed to investors. A target date fund underlying a college investment or so-called 529 plan, on the other hand, would need to more closely track its target date since it is far more likely that investors would need access to their investment at or near the fund's target date.

I can assure you that SEC staff is closely reviewing target date funds' disclosure about their glide paths and asset allocations. The staff also is examining whether the same target date funds underlie both retirement and college savings plans. The staff has been working closely with the Department of Labor in light of target date funds' prevalence in participant-directed retirement funds. This important issue has also been an area of focus for Chairman Kohl and the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

She also addressed short sales, proxy access, money market funds, and rule 12b-1 fees.

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