Happily Ever After? – Investment Funds that Live with ERISA, For Better and For Worse (Part One of Five)

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA) is a reactive and remedial statute which has been described as setting forth a “comprehensive and reticulated” scheme to regulate the provision of employee benefits.  It can be extremely complex at times, sometimes even seeming to operate counterintuitively in an attempt to achieve its protective goals.  There may have been a time when hedge fund managers commonly disdained taking investments from pension plans subject to ERISA.  The notion of having to comply with ERISA, of all things, in the case of someone who is not charged with addressing human resources concerns or other benefits-related matters, can be an extremely foreign concept.  Only as investment capital has become increasingly concentrated in pension plans have hedge fund managers more broadly realized that dealing with ERISA might be necessary, or even preferable.  In short, complying with ERISA can dramatically enlarge the pool of money potentially available to a hedge fund manager.  But it can also dramatically enlarge the size and complexity of a manager’s legal and compliance efforts.  In an effort to bring some much needed clarity to one of the most opaque legal areas affecting the investment management business, Hedge Fund Law Report is serializing a treatise chapter by Andrew L. Oringer, a partner at Dechert LLP and a dean of the ERISA bar.  The chapter describes – in considerable detail and with extensive references to relevant authority – the application of ERISA to hedge and other investment funds.  For hedge fund managers seeking to raise capital from pension plans subject to ERISA, the chapter is essential reading.  This article is the first in our five-part serialization.  See also “RCA PracticeEdge Session Highlights the Key Points of Intersection between ERISA and Hedge Fund Investments and Operations,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 7, No. 27 (Jul. 18, 2014).

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