Nordstrom is the latest large employer sued over their 401(k) plan

The department store business model is selling items at high prices with the heavy end of season discounting. Now if only Nordstrom did the same with their nearly $3 billion 401(k) plan.

The lawsuit alleges that if the plan had opted to include Vanguard target date funds instead of the target date funds in the plan, the plan sponsor could have cut plan expenses by $3.6 million per year, or nearly $22 million over the past six years. The lawsuit also alleges that if the plan had changed other parts of its investment lineup for similarly available Vanguard funds, it would have saved $24 million over the past six years.

Whether a plan sponsor chose Vanguard funds or from another company, that’s clearly a fiduciary decision and the plaintiffs are going to have a hard time providing a breach of the duty of prudence just because Nordstrom didn’t use Vanguard funds. The plaintiffs are going to have to show that using other funds is an actual breach.

It should be noted that this lawsuit has just come months after Nordstrom replaced Transamerica as their record-keeper. Coincidental or related, it’s worth noting.

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