At the hearing on target-date funds Thursday, target-date fund managers, along with the Investment Company Institute, asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to butt out of asset management.

ICI General Counsel Karrie McMillan said interfering in the mix of assets would be unprecedented: “In the 70-year history of mutual fund regulation, the government has never regulated the investment choices of mutual funds. Nor should it start now.”

“We strongly oppose any efforts to regulate the glide paths or other aspects of the investment design or construction of target-date funds,” concurred John Ameriks, a Vanguard principal.

Fund executives also said they were opposed to labeling target-date funds conservative, moderate or aggressive, based on the mandate of their glide path and current holdings.

But SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro countered that target-date fund losses last year ranged from minus 3.6% to minus 41%, with an average loss of 25%. “These varying results should cause all of us to pause and consider whether regulatory changes, industry reforms or other revisions are needed with respect to target date funds.”

Financial planners who testified Thursday tended to agree with the SEC that a target-date fund’s name should give some indication of its level of equity and other risk exposure. “The name of each fund must bear some relationship to the way the fund is managed, that is, its glide path,” said Joseph Nagengast of Target Date Analytics, which provides benchmarks for target-date funds. “If a fund labeled 2010 is really targeted to land at 2040, it should be relabeled as a 2040 fund.”

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