New DOL Guidance on ESG Investing: Selection of Investment Alternatives by Asset Managers and Plan Sponsors

Investment Policy Statements, ESG Products in 401(k)-Type Plans, QDIAs, Fiduciary and Investment Committee Guidance

A live 90-minute CLE webinar with interactive Q&A

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

1:00pm-2:30pm EDT, 10:00am-11:30am PDT

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE webinar will guide ERISA counsel, plan sponsors and asset managers on following new DOL guidance regarding the selection of investments in retirement plans based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations. The panel will discuss key factors to be considered by retirement plan investment committees, developing investment policy statements, ESG-themed options in 401(k)-type plans, qualified default investment alternatives (QDIAs), and best practices for plan sponsors and asset managers in pursuing ESG investment programs and ensuring compliance.


On Apr. 23, 2018, the DOL issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2018-01 (FAB), clarifying the DOL’s position on certain items relating to an ERISA plan's selecting investments to promote social policy goals and an ERISA plan's exercising its shareholder rights. Plan fiduciaries and investment committees must recognize their regulatory requirements and duties in selecting plan investments to comply with ERISA and to avoid potential claims from participants.

Interpretive Bulletin 2015-01 provided that “plan fiduciaries are not permitted to sacrifice investment return or take on additional investment risk as a means of using plan investments to promote collateral social policy goals.” 

The FAB provides some new direction on ERISA compliance for drafting and implementing investment policy statements, an ESG option as a 401(k) plan investment alternative and the implications of ESG considerations in QDIAs. Counsel and advisers must be knowledgeable of the intricacies of using ESG considerations in plan investments and the ramifications of noncompliance. Asset managers operating ESG funds should also be aware of these considerations in marketing their offerings and services to plans.

Listen as our panel discusses critical factors for plan fiduciaries in selecting plan investments, modifying or developing investment policy statements for ESG considerations, the use of ESG-themed options in 401(k)-type plans and QDIAs, and best practices for plan sponsors and asset managers in pursuing ESG investment programs.



  1. New DOL guidance on ESG factors
  2. ESG considerations and vetting investment risks, including the role of asset manager marketing/positioning in investment committee decision making
  3. Best practices for plan sponsors and asset managers in pursuing ESG investments and mitigating potential breach of fiduciary duty claims
  4. Considerations for drafting or modifying investment policy statements to permit ESG investments
  5. ESG-themed options in 401(k) and QDIAs


The panel will review these and other critical issues:

  • ERISA considerations in investment committee governance
  • DOL guidance on ESG investing
  • ESG considerations and vetting plan investments
  • Steps to demonstrate a prudent investment process in connection with ESG investment decisions
  • Drafting considerations for investment policy statements
  • The use of ESG in 401(k) plans and QDIAs
  • Techniques and best practices for plan sponsors and asset managers for ESG investment programs


Lichtenstein, Joshua
Joshua A. Lichtenstein

Ropes & Gray

Mr. Lichtenstein is a partner in the tax & benefits department in the firm's New York office and focuses on...  |  Read More

Ryan, Alexander
Alexander P. Ryan

Groom Law Group

Mr. Ryan represents ERISA plan sponsors, administrators, trustees and various financial service providers in a variety...  |  Read More

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