A participant in a 401(k) plan run by Natixis Investment Managers sued the company and plan fiduciaries, alleging ERISA violations including "unlawful self-dealing" in the management of the plan.
"Defendants fail to administer the plan in the best interest of participants and fail to employ a prudent process for managing the plan," said the complaint filed Feb. 18 in a U.S. District Court in Boston, seeking class-action status.
"Defendants have managed the plan in a manner that benefits Natixis at participants' expense, using the plan as an opportunity to promote Natixis's mutual fund business and maximize profits at the expense of the plan and its participants," said the complaint in the case of Brian Waldner vs. Natixis Investment Managers LP et al.
"We believe the lawsuit is entirely without merit, and Natixis will defend itself vigorously against the claims," Natixis spokesman Ted Meyer said in an email. "Our retirement savings plan offers employees a diverse lineup of investment options, which are rigorously reviewed to ensure reasonable fees and solid investment returns."
The lawsuit alleges that Natixis funds account for 58% of plan assets. Arguing that Natixis plan fees are higher than those of comparable-sized 401(k) plans, the lawsuit said the "excessive fees are entirely due to its concentration of proprietary funds, which, on average, cost seven times more than the plan's non-proprietary options and accounted for 90% of the plan's expenses."
The 401(k) Savings and Retirement Plan, Sponsored by Natixis Investment Managers, L.P., Boston, had assets of $437.9 million as of Dec. 31, 2019, according to the latest Form 5500.