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The 2015 Pension 40: Ian Lanoff

No. 29 Ian Lanoff, Principal / Groom Law Grou

Ian Lanoff
Principal / Groom Law Group
Last year: Not ranked

The pension landscape has changed a lot since Ian Lanoff, 73, ran the ERISA program at the Department of Labor under Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Since leaving Capitol Hill in the early 1980s, Lanoff, an attorney at Washington-based Groom Law Group, has handled employee benefit matters for many pension fund boards, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the New York State Employees Retirement System (known as the Common Fund) and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. Lanoff helped develop the so-called everything-being-equal approach, which allows pensions to invest with a social purpose only as long as everything else about their process was sound. That work culminated in new DoL guidance in October saying that fiduciaries cannot take on higher risk or accept lower returns in an effort to achieve environmental, social responsibility and corporate governance goals. ESG benefits should instead be viewed as “tiebreakers” when multiple investments are otherwise equal in terms of financial outcome. Lanoff, who participated in the talks that led to the change, says he is mostly happy with the outcome: “The main problem I had was with some people who were arguing in favor of altering the everything-being-equal test and coming up with a test where social considerations can be considered on a level with risk and returns.” That doesn’t work from a legal perspective because trust law prohibits sacrificing fiduciary duty for nonfinancial considerations, he says. But Lanoff, who serves on the board of the Pension Rights Center (see Karen Ferguson and Karen Friedman, No. 22), admits many of his colleagues view his position as too conservative. “I’m a lawyer, not a policymaker,” he says.

The 2015 Pension 40

1. Bruce Rauner
2. John & Laura Arnold
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
3. Chris Christie
New Jersey
4. Randi Weingarten
AmericanFederation of Teachers
5. Phyllis Borzi
U.S. Department
of Labor
6. Kevin de León
7. Alejandro García Padilla
Commonwealth ofPuerto Rico
8. Laurence Fink
9. Rahm Emanuel
10. Sean McGarvey
North AmericanBuilding Trades Unions
11. John Kline
12. J. Mark Iwry
U.S. Treasury
13. Damon Silvers
14. Jeffrey Immelt
Electric Co.
15. Joshua Gotbaum
Brookings Institution
16. Robin Diamonte
United Technologies Corp.
17. Mark Mullet
18. Terry O'Sullivan
Laborers' International Union of North America
19. Raymond Dalio
Bridgewater Associates
20. Ted Wheeler
21. Thomas Nyhan
Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund
22. Karen Ferguson & Karen Friedman
Pensions Rights Center
23. Randy DeFrehn
National Coordinating Committee forMultiemployer Plans
24. Robert O'Keef
Motorola Solutions
25. Caitlin Long
Morgan Stanley
26. Kenneth Feinberg
The Law Offices
of Kenneth R. Feinberg
27. Orrin Hatch
28. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Center for Retirement Initiatives, Georgetown University
29. Ian Lanoff
Groom Law Group
30. Joshua Rauh
Stanford Graduate School of Business
31. Ted Eliopoulos
California Public Employees' Retirement System
32. Edward (Ted) Siedle
Benchmark Financial Services
33. Teresa Ghilarducci
New School for Social Research
34. Denise Nappier
35. W. Thomas Reeder Jr.
Pension BenefitGuaranty Corp.
36. Hank Kim
National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems
37. Paul Singer
Elliott Management Corp.
38. Bailey Childers
National PublicPension Coalition
39. Amy Kessler
Prudential Financial
40. Judy Mares
U.S. Labor Department

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