Voya comments on DOL’s ESG retirement plan proposal
Voya Financial announced that it has submitted a comment letter to the Department of Labor (DOL) supporting the DOL’s proposed rulemaking on “Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights.”
Voya supports the overall tone, clarity and content of the proposed rules, as they largely recognize the important role that climate change and other environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors can play in the evaluation and management of retirement plan investments, while continuing to uphold fundamental fiduciary obligations.
“We applaud the DOL’s considerations and ultimate changes suggested in the proposed rulemaking as they are a step in the right direction on ESG investment activities,” said Christine Hurtsellers, CEO of Voya Investment Management. “At Voya, we believe that investment decisions made after consideration of all material factors, including ESG factors when appropriate, are in the best interest of retirement savers.”
According to Voya research, nearly three-quarters (70%) of 401(k) plan participants are interested in retirement plan investment options that consider ESG factors.1 At the same time, plan sponsors also recognize this interest from their participants. Additional Voya research of higher education retirement plan sponsors has found that half (50%) of sponsors have considered providing investment options with a specific focus on companies that have a positive social or governance impact to be a top priority in their plan design.2
“Ultimately, we believe that when provided with the opportunity for investment options that reflect considerations of ESG factors, more retirement plan participants will be encouraged to participate in their workplace savings plan — particularly younger investors who might be more inclined to invest their hard-earned dollars into options that align with their values,” said Heather Lavallee, CEO of Wealth Solutions for Voya Financial. “Our data shows a clear, growing interest in ESG and, as a result, we’re fully supportive of a system that allows participants to choose from a wide variety of products and investment information to help achieve their unique goals.”
In its comment letter, Voya further outlines its support of the DOL’s decision to craft “investment duties” regulations that provide clarity to plans, plan sponsors and investment fiduciaries. In addition, a recognition that ESG factors may impact risk and return and fiduciaries may properly consider ESG factors when making sound investment decisions and exercising ownership rights.
As an industry leader focused on the delivery of health, wealth and investment solutions to and through the workplace, Voya Financial is committed to delivering on its mission to make a secure financial future possible for all Americans — one person, one family, one institution at a time.
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1 Voya Consumer Insights and Research, 2021.
2 Findings based on the results of a Voya Financial survey conducted by Greenwald Research among 297 higher education plan sponsor retirement plan decision-makers from July 22–Sept. 11, 2020.