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Consultants

SEC investigating Aon Hewitt’s marketing materials, custodial fees

Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is focusing on the firm's marketing materials and custodial fees charged to clients, an Aon spokesman confirmed.

The SEC notified Aon in the first quarter of this year that it had shifted a portion of a routine examination from 2017 into an enforcement investigation, the spokesman confirmed via email. As a registered investment adviser, the Aon subsidiary is subject to periodic examinations by the SEC.

In a December 2017 comment letter, the SEC first made recommendations for enhancements to Aon's compliance program, following the examination, which was "comprehensive and broad-based," and not specifically related to the focuses of the current investigation, the spokesman explained.

"AHIC responded to the SEC and has made, and will continue to make, appropriate enhancements to its compliance program and business operations," the spokesman wrote in the email.

"Following Aon's response to the December 2017 comment letter, AHIC became aware that the SEC shifted a portion of this examination into an enforcement investigation, focusing on certain of AHIC's marketing materials and the custodial fees charged to several clients. The SEC's investigation is fact-finding, and their staff has advised us that they have made no determinations that any violations have occurred. AHIC cooperated with the SEC's requests for information and voluntarily produced all requested documents," the spokesman continued.

So far, Aon has notified at least one prospective investor client of the ongoing SEC investigation, the Fairfax County Educational Employees' Supplementary Retirement System, which could not immediately be reached for comment.

Aon disclosed the information in an RFP to serve as a general investment consultant for the Springfield, Va.-based defined benefit plan, which had $2.4 billion in assets as of Sept. 30, investor documents published on the pension's website state. On Tuesday, the SEC declined to comment on the matter.

As of Dec. 31, 2017, Aon had approximately $107 billion in assets under management on a discretionary basis and $2 billion in assets on a non-discretionary basis, the firm's most recent Form ADV filings show.