Impact of Amendments to QPAM Exemption on ERISA Funds

Pension plans commonly invest in hedge funds. Managers that accept investments from pension plans, however, may need to comply with the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). For example, if a benefit plan investor owns more than 25 percent of any class of a fund’s equity securities, the fund could be deemed a “plan asset fund” subject to ERISA – including its prohibition against transactions with “parties in interest.” Thus, many managers of plan asset funds rely on an exemption from ERISA’s prohibited transaction rules for “qualified professional asset managers” (QPAM). On April 3, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor made some fairly significant amendments to the QPAM exemption (Amendments), which take effect June 17, 2024. The Hedge Fund Law Report spoke to Bradley C. Fay, partner at Seward & Kissel, about those changes. This article summarizes the Amendments and shares Fay’s perspective on them, as well as the steps fund managers impacted by the changes should take to comply with the new requirements. For a look at pension plan investing, see “Family Offices, Endowments and Foundations Drive Interest in Hedge Funds, According to New Study” (Mar. 17, 2022).

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