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For those of you who may not know, Salesforce is a software company that concentrates on customer relationship management, marketing automation, analytics and application development. This year, Fortune magazine voted Salesforce as number 6 on its list of top 100 companies to work for based on employee satisfaction.
Now, a suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking class-action status for a group of retirement plan and long-term disability beneficiaries and recipients.
The suit alleges that Salesforce had over $2 billion dollars in assets as of the end of 2018 and that the size of its retirement plan gives it substantial bargaining power in order to negotiate lower fees for both investment products and bookkeeping services. However, the suit alleges, Salesforce failed to do so. The complaint alleges, ” “Defendants, however, did not try to reduce the plan’s expenses or exercise appropriate judgement to scrutinize each investment option that was offered in the plan to ensure it was prudent.”
Specifically, Salesforce is accused of failing to take advantage of low-cost share classes in mutual funds and failing to consider alternatives to mutual funds such as collective investment trusts.
Interestingly, the case filing documents show that Salesforce had actually made some of the changes by the time the suit was filed, but the suit alleges that these changes should have happened much earlier and that the fiduciaries should be financially responsible for reimbursement for these costs to the plan.
These kinds of suits are becoming more and more common under ERISA. Beneficiaries of retirement and long-term disability plans are starting to scrutinize fiduciaries for their actions in maintaining the benefit pool.
This case has not been resolved to date. We will be watching it and update this post as needed.