Company 401(k) Plans Dumping Some Funds Implicated in Scandals

In what one official called a "sea change" in the way 401 (k) plans are managed, 25 percent of chief financial officers are dumping the mutual funds involved in the widening industry scandal. Up to 29 percent of those surveyed said they are considering making changes, according to a survey by Financial Executives International and Duke University.

Colleen Sayther, president of trade group Financial Executives International, called the large-scale swapping of investment options a "sea change." Most often changes are made due to poor performance, not scandal.

The companies named in the scandal include Janus Capital, Strong, Putnam Investments, Invesco and others. Electric Energy of Joppa, IL, cut the Janus Worldwide fund from two of its 401 (k) plans last month. Amy McGinness, an employee benefits specialist with Electric Energy, said there were several reasons for the change, adding, "Obviously, the investigation didn't help."

Many of the changes are made quietly, but the effect is still being felt. Six of the companies implicated in the scandal — Alliance Capital, Bank of America, Janus, Pilgrim Baxter, Putnam and Strong — lost $21 billion more than they gained, fund tracker Lipper says, and USA Today reported.

The investigation into the funds has grown since September when New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer reached a settlement with hedge fund Canary Capital Partners over charges that it practiced trading irregularities with four fund firms.

Furthermore, Invesco, Prudential Securities and the founders of Pilgrim Baxter, the investment adviser for PBHG funds, face civil fraud charges. Putnam replaced its CFO in November, is still dealing with Massachusetts charges but has made a partial settlement with the SEC, USA Today reported.

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