Stephen Wilkes, a partner in the firm, heads the firm's Investment Management Law practice. He also is a Practice Group leader for the firm’s ERISA Fiduciary Compliance and Independent Fiduciary practices. Steve advises a national client base of mutual funds, CIFs, private funds, registered investment advisers, insurance companies, broker dealers, wealth management firms, banks, trust companies, third-party platform providers, Taft Hartley Funds and plan sponsors on ERISA, tax, and related securities law issues. Stephen counsels clients regarding ERISA fiduciary and prohibited transaction issues, investment matters, alternative investments, securities law issues, federal tax issues, and the employee benefits aspects of bankruptcy and related financial restructurings, reorganizations and liquidations. He interacts with regulatory agencies and Congressional staff on legislative and regulatory issues involving the DOL, SEC, IRS, PBGC and OCC.
Stephen has extensive experience in handling audits by the Department of Labor, the IRS, and the United States’ Security and Exchange Commission. He gives advice and counseling with respect to retirement plan services agreements, investment management agreements, DOL regulations, SEC regulations, federal legislative activity, qualified employee pension plans, ERISA litigation, Collective Investment Funds, off-shore investment advisers, Sales and Marketing Distribution Agreements and Wrap-Fee Programs. Stephen has also worked closely with his clients regarding structure among broker-dealer firms and platform provider firms for product distribution and preparing non-discretionary or discretionary advisory agreements, Form ADV Part 2, regulatory disclosures and filings, marketing materials, prospectus, revenue sharing, best investment management practices, CIF advisory and sub-advisory agreements, selling and administrative services agreements, distribution agreements, vendor agreements, compliance manuals and WSP’s. Stephen has worked with various parties to Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and other financial reorganization and restructuring matters on ERISA, pension plan, and related employee benefit matters and claims.
Prior to working at The Wagner Law Group, Stephen worked as an attorney in a San Francisco law firm, as senior counsel at Financial Engines, Inc. in Palo Alto, and at Merrill Lynch in San Francisco in the fields of ERISA, Securities, and retirement/compensation services. Additionally, Stephen founded and headed his own firm specializing in the area of ERISA.
Stephen’s experience also includes partner, associate, general counsel, and assistant general counsel positions at The LTV Corporation (NYSE) in Cleveland, Merchants Suisse Inc. in New York, New York, Hughes and Luce in Dallas, Winstead, Sechrest & Minick in Dallas, Texas, and at Gordon Hurtwitz in New York, New York.
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