How Much Employer Stock is Too Much? Anything More than a Little

Here is a well-done article, with data spoon fed by BrightScope, on the issue of having large employer stock holdings in defined contribution plans. The article points out the extent to which some plans have very large employer stock holdings in them, as well as the efforts being taken by some employers to educate participants on the risk of failing to diversify out of the employer stock holdings. That said, though, the real answer to the question posed by the article’s title – how much company stock is too much – is that, at this point, anything more than a small exposure is too much, if you are a participant looking to protect yourself. After the Second Circuit’s recent ringing endorsement of the Moench presumption, fiduciaries face relatively minimal legal risk from - or potential financial liability for – any significant decline in the value of the company stock held by the participants, at least under ERISA. This puts the onus further on participants to protect themselves proactively, by minimizing employer stock holdings in their defined contribution plans through intelligent investment decisions. If they don’t, when - note I leave out the word if in this day and age – the stock drops precipitously, the participants will end up stuck with the loss, as the wide spread adoption of the Moench presumption means that courts are not going to let the plaintiffs’ bar ride in on a white horse to recoup those losses by means of breach of fiduciary duty lawsuits.