Both Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting and Lowe’s Companies were accused of breaching ERISA fiduciary duties, in particular, due to the decision to replace an investment option in the Lowe’s 401(k) Plan with the Aon Growth Fund. The fund received over one billion dollars as a result, an investment four times the size of the fund itself. In so doing, Aon’s financial interests were allegedly served at the expense of Lowe’s Plan participants. Lowe’s, after failing in its attempts at dismissal, elected to settle the claims earlier this year. However, the case against Aon proceeded to the courts, with a ruling in Aon’s favor regarding the advisement of changing the investment menu as well as its efforts to “cross-sell”’ its fiduciary services that Lowe’s elected to offer. Likewise, a similar ruling was reached regarding the Aon Growth Fund, in that Aon did not breach fiduciary duty through its selection and continued offering of the Fund in the Plan, even though the Fund did not outperform other available investment options, that in hindsight, performed better.
www.planadviser.com; October 14, 2021.