Allstate Corp., Northbrook, Ill., replaced the Northern Trust series with a series managed by State Street Global Advisors in the investment options lineup of its 401(k) plan last September, according to its June 28 11-K filing with the SEC. As of Dec. 31, the Allstate 401(k) Savings Plan had $7.1 billion in assets, including $1.1 billion the SSGA target-date funds, according to its 11-K filing.
Allstate's new 11-K filing did not provide a specific reason for the change. A number of Allstate 401(k) plan participants filed lawsuits in 2020 and 2021 in U.S. District Court in Chicago, alleging a series of ERISA violations, specifically regarding the plan retaining a "poorly performing" target-date series. The Allstate defendants "loaded the plan with a suite of poorly performing funds called the Northern Trust Focus Retirement Trusts," said the second complaint filed in January 2021.
Allstate spokesman Alwyn Scott declined to comment.
Finally, Nordson Corp., Westlake, Ohio, also removed the Northern Trust Focus Funds from its lineup, replacing it with an SSGA-managed series of target-date funds. As of Dec. 31, the Nordson Employees' Savings Trust Plan had $844 million in assets, including $158 million in the target-date funds, according to the new 11-K filing.
The three plans that removed the Northern Trust Focus Funds were not the first to do so in recent years. In 2020, PPL Corp., Allentown, Pa., removed the Northern Trust Focus Funds from its lineup, according to a comparison of the company's two most recent Form 5500 filings for the PPL Defined Contribution Master Trust. The trust, which comprises the assets of the PPL Employee Savings Plan, PPL Deferred Savings Plan, PPL Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and the LG&E and KU Savings Plan, replaced the Northern Trust funds with a passive target-date fund series managed by BlackRock. As of Dec. 31, 2020, the PPL Defined Contribution Plan Master Trust had $2 billion in assets, according to the most recent Form 5500 filing. As of that same date, the BlackRock funds had a total of $639 million in plan assets.
Current and former employees of PPL Corp. sued the company, a subsidiary and fiduciaries this January, alleging violations of ERISA in the management of four retirement plans related to its retaining the "unproven" Northern Trust Focus Funds.