A landmark federal court decision last year on a 401(k) sponsor's mismanagement of a retirement plan could have big implications for advisors. Although the ruling is being appealed, the decision in Tussey v. ABB was extraordinary because it constitutes a warning to every advisor who operates as an investment fiduciary.

Using the Investment Advisors Act of 1940 and ERISA as standards, the Tussey ruling imposed a hefty cost on the defendants. The decision, issued by a federal district court in Missouri, is more than 80 pages long, More importanly, it's precedent setting.

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