As part of its efforts to effect transparency of fees paid by plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to investment managers and other service providers, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has indicated that it will develop and propose a required format for a "summary guide" of the disclosures under ERISA Section 408(b)(2).

ERISA requires arrangements between ERISA plans and service providers to be "reasonable." Regulations under Section 408(b)(2) provide that, for a services arrangement to be reasonable, the service provider must provide disclosure, primarily about compensation it expects to receive and, in some cases, information about designated investment alternatives, to a fiduciary of a covered plan, from which the service provider, together with its affiliates or subcontractors, expects to receive $1,000 of compensation in a year. As reported in the March 30, 2012 edition of Corporate and Financial Weekly Digest, the initial disclosures are due July 1, and apply to retirement plans (e.g., pension, 401(k), but not IRAs).

There is currently no required format for these disclosures, and unless and until the DOL finalizes a required format, service providers may draw from multiple documents in making their disclosures. In the Section 408(b)(2) regulations, the DOL included a "sample guide" which service providers may use to reference the location of the required disclosures in multiple documents. Service providers may, but are not required, to use such a sample guide. The sample guide may be accessed by clicking "Sample Guide" here.