U.S. asset managers profit from gun industry retirement plans

Leading money managers maintaining agnostic approach
By Tim McLaughlin
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 02/28/2018
NRA Protest
Protesters rally outside the Capitol urging Florida lawmakers to reform gun laws, in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Tallahassee, Fla., Feb. 21. REUTERS/Colin Hackley


BOSTON (Reuters) — Some of the largest U.S. asset managers profiting directly from gunmakers' retirement plans are siding with the investment needs of workers while they review ways to address the sort of gun violence that left 17 dead at a Florida high school.

As a growing list of U.S. companies say they will snub the gun manufacturing industry or cut ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA), many of the leading money managers are maintaining an agnostic approach in their relationship with companies such as Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands, maker of Smith & Wesson handguns and rifles.

The national conversation about guns and their place in American society has reached a fevered pitch in the wake of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

American Funds, JPMorgan Chase, MassMutual and T. Rowe Price Group are among the top managers of about US$1.5 billion in retirement plan assets at the largest U.S. gun and ammunition makers, according to Department of Labor disclosures. All of the companies declined to comment for this story.

They earn fees for managing the money deposited into their mutual funds offered in 401(k) retirement accounts for gun industry workers. Employers typically match a portion of workers' contributions.

Vanguard Group, the largest U.S. mutual fund company, said it is interested only in meeting the needs of plan participants by choosing strategies that give them the best chance for investment success.

"Sector or company type does not enter into this assessment," Vanguard spokeswoman Carolyn Wegemann said.

John Hancock, which manages money in the 401(k) plan for handgun maker Glock Inc, said it has an obligation to serve the needs of workers.

“We are reviewing ways that our company, and companies like ours, can help address the issue of gun violence in the United States,” John Hancock spokeswoman Beth McGoldrick said.

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