Jeanne Klinefelter Wilson serves as counsel to plan sponsors and plan fiduciaries in Groom’s plan sponsor group, with a focus on privately sponsored plans as well as governmental plans.  Jeanne has nearly 30 years of experience working with employee benefit plans since her first job as an employee benefit plan auditor with a major public accounting firm. She has served as ERISA counsel for over 15 years. Her practice extends to all types of employee benefit plans, including both qualified and non-qualified retirement plans and welfare plans. The breadth and depth of her experience on Title I issues affecting plans is significant, particularly fiduciary aspects of DB and DC plans, including plan governance and process, day-to-day administration, and investment management.

Jeanne led the Employee Benefits Security Administration from 2017 to 2021 in the roles of Acting Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary.  As such, she served as the nation’s top private benefit plan regulator.  At DOL, Jeanne took a hands-on approach to management by serving as a member of the regulatory, exemption, outreach, and enforcement teams.  She has in-depth knowledge of the regulatory process and the role that each level of the executive branch plays in that process.  Jeanne’s unmatched inside view on all steps of the DOL investigation and enforcement approach allows her to provide unparalleled advice to clients facing a DOL investigation.  Jeanne also has significant experience in the DOL prohibited transactions exemption process as a result of her tenure at EBSA.

Jeanne serves as extended “in-house counsel” and adeptly functions as a team member in advancing her client’s business goals.  As a result of nearly a decade of service as in-house ERISA counsel, Jeanne understands the importance of a practical approach to achieving and maintaining compliance.  She is especially good at anticipating and addressing concerns of employee groups.  Jeanne regularly attends fiduciary meetings serving as counsel, conducting fiduciary education, and keeping documentation. She has significant experience contracting on behalf of plans and plan sponsors with service providers including recordkeeping contracts, investment management agreements, and trust agreements. Jeanne’s experience includes regularly advising plan fiduciaries and sponsors on ERISA compliance matters including reporting and disclosure, default investments and mapping, and plan expenses. Jeanne also has significant experience at the collective bargaining table where she is an effective and strategic advocate.

Jeanne maintains a “DOL investigation and IRS audit help desk” for plan sponsors and plan administrators, leveraging her hands-on experience with the DOL investigation process. As such, she is a go-to adviser.  Jeanne encourages plan sponsors and plan administrators to involve her from the first moment of inquiry.

Jeanne also has significant expertise in DOL fiduciary matters.  As the primary architect of DOL Class Exemption 2020-02 “Improving Investment Advice for Workers and Retirees,” Jeanne’s responsibilities included harmonizing DOL guidance with SEC standards.  Jeanne’s experience has equipped her to advise retirement plan fiduciaries and service providers on existing and anticipated DOL guidance on fiduciary matters.  Jeanne’s expertise also extends to financial factors in investing and the historical approaches to DOL guidance in this area; private equity investments in DC plans; cybersecurity; missing participants; proxy voting; QPAM; and captive insurance matters.