Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On protecting retirement and investments of American workers

Elaine L. Chao, U.S. secretary of labor, and Christopher Cox, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) to protect the $5.8 trillion in retirement assets of American workers, retirees and their families. The two agencies are aiming to permanently establish their relationship in terms of sharing information on retirement and investment.

The MOU will make it easier for investors, benefit plan participants and plan administrators to get access to more readily understandable information, which will be helpful for them in making informed investment decisions.

There is a population of 117 million people in America who rely on private sector retirement plans. It is easy for those people to benefit from the MOU. "This further boosts the department's record-setting enforcement program that has won $11 billion in monetary results and more than 800 criminal indictments since 2001 on behalf of protecting workers' retirement savings,” said Secretery Chao.

Chairman Cox said, "With a growing number of seniors focused on managing their own 401(k) plans, it's important to improve disclosure to give them the information they need and in a form they can use. To accomplish this, the Department of Labor and the SEC are committed to coordinating closely on their behalf. This enhanced coordination of the SEC's investor protection efforts and the Department of Labor's regulatory responsibility for pensions and 401(k)s will greatly benefit the millions of hardworking Americans who are saving and investing for their retirement as well as those who have already retired."

Both agencies will designate points of contact in their regional offices for the sake of communication among staff on related matters. In addition, the agreement also encourages sharing of non-public information and other subjects of mutual interest between the two agencies.

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