Vanguard 401k Accounts Frozen

This post is not to incite a panic but we have heard from several Hellerites and ex-Hellerites this evening that for some reason, there is a freeze on the Heller Ehrman 401k accounts as of 10/6/2008.  

One of our sources is an ex-Heller employee who decided finally to move their money over to their current firm’s plan.  They were told that the plan was “frozen” as of 10/6/2008 and that no date has been given for the plan to be unfrozen.

Vanguard can be reached by calling Daniel Blau,  +1 (888) 629-4920, Ext. 65327.  Offices for Vanguard are open 8:00 am EDT until 8:00 pm EDT.

After calling Vanguard, people have been told to contact Carol Budinger at Heller concerning the freeze.  

Hopefully we will get some more concise and definitive information tomorrow, hopefully from Heller management rather than our usual method of scrambling for such information.

Over and out.

Heller Drone
Cruise Director


19 Responses to “Vanguard 401k Accounts Frozen”

  1. 1 employee151 8 October 2008 at 6:21 am

    I understand from the Dissolution Committee that the plans were frozen yesterday SO THAT THE ASSETS CAN BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE EMPLOYEES who have invested the funds. An announcement will go out this morning.

    It was shamelessly irresponsible of you to publish this rumor without appropriate detail. Whether you wanted to or not, you have incited panic, you have caused many good people to worry needlessly. One of my co-workers called me in tears this morning. This is apparently fun-and-games “gothca” reporting to you. It is real life for people who are scared.

    Next time, make a modicum of effort to confirm rumors before you print them. Or don’t. You have to live with yourself, which is probably punishment enough.

  2. 2 hellerdrone 8 October 2008 at 6:29 am

    Employee 151

    So which HR or management tool are you? If the plans were frozen on 10/6/2008 dontcha think that perhaps – just maybe – someone would call up Vanguard between yesterday and right now and try to move their money to a current employer’s plan?

    I am stating a fact here. I have had many people email me about plans being frozen and I vetted their info. When you call Vanguard they say to call Carol Budinger. That’s a fact. And the post clearly states that we are waiting for more information. And “. . .that the plans were frozen yesterday SO THAT THE ASSETS CAN BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE EMPLOYEES who have invested the funds” makes no sense at all. I did not post that the plans were underfunded. I did not post that administrative fees were not paid. I simply posted that the plans were frozen.

    Heller management must have a good reason for this action and it would go a long way to calming people down if Heller staff received some form of communication and a logical explanation as to the rationale. And did it ever occur to you or to Heller management that some employees may need that money – knowing full well the tax implications and penalties of early withdrawal – for living expenses or to make it through while they line up work?

    Or is everything so bright and cheery at Heller management that they live in a world where everyone gets a new job right away, everyone manages to get health care coverage if they don’t get a new job right away? You people really do live in a vacuum over at 333 Bush Street in your ivory tower.

    Why wasn’t this information made available to Heller staff as it happened or before the plans were frozen? Why is everything we are seeing come from Heller management reactive instead of proactive?

    Stop blaming others for the ineptness of Heller management. Put the blame where it belongs.

    Heller Drone
    Cruise Director

  3. 3 employee151 8 October 2008 at 7:15 am

    When you grow up (if ever), you will understand that life is more complicated than your simple view. You may not have noticed, but there are many, many issues that the Dissolution Commmittee is handling. Could this have been handled better? Yes. Is a 24 hour delay in notifying employees ideal? No. Did you inflict emotional tramau on employees by insisting that you get to be the official disseminator of employee information without checking for details? Absolutely.

    People are in pain. Don’t make it worse.

  4. 4 hellerdrone 8 October 2008 at 7:21 am


    I really don’t think there is anything more I can say to you. We have a difference of opinions which I can respect.

    I will step out of the way for now and let others comment.

    Heller Drone
    Cruise Director

  5. 5 sad it's over 8 October 2008 at 7:25 am

    My, my Heller Drone! Did you get your feelings hurt by 151? If you are going to run a website that will accept anything anybody says, you need a tougher skin. You screwed up. Admit it. Your posting is causing panic in the halls. Congrats! You have gotten want you most want in life — attention.

    To quote John Lennon about “How do you sleep at night?”

  6. 6 hellerdrone 8 October 2008 at 7:30 am

    sad it’s over

    feelings hurt – no. panic in the halls? could have been prevented? – yes. tough skin – got it, don’t need to flaunt it. Screwed up? – Dissolution Committee.

    and are you really “sad it’s over?” or will you just miss tossing the salad of Heller management?

    Heller Drone
    Cruise Director

  7. 7 24 hours? 8 October 2008 at 7:50 am

    Employee 151 – Management should stop reading Heller Drone (for information) and start preparing a memo to employees detailing that our accounts were frozen (for whatever reason) on 10/6/08.

    Could H.D. waited 24 hours to post that information? Yes. But at this point… we’re passed 24 hours and surprise, surprise, no word from Management yet.

  8. 8 Pissed Off Associate 8 October 2008 at 8:15 am

    Employee 151 – Shame on you. We have absolutely no reason to give “management” even the slightest bit of trust or benefit of the doubt. How dare you freeze 401k accounts without giving employees notice BEFOREHAND. The dissolution committee having to deal with “many, many issues” is not an excuse for anything. Heller Drone’s reporting was entirely accurate. Any panic that the news incited is a result of management’s complete loss of credibility and poor judgment. Your posts exemplify the utter disgrace that Heller Ehrman has become.

  9. 9 Lola Falana 8 October 2008 at 8:20 am

    Goodness what is going on. You know the rule people about the cyber world. Read everything knowing there is a portion of the truth. Not the undying world of Heller. I take what I read here with a grain of salt and yes I am a current Heller Employee on Bush Street..and the rest is up for translation.

  10. 10 Trust but verify 8 October 2008 at 8:46 am

    HD: I appreciate your postings; please keep them coming. As important information about the firm’s fate, benefits, etc. comes to light, I am rarely hearing it first from management. I freely grant that management is dealing with a horrendously complicated, very ticklish situation. However, there is one scenario in which management is pursuing the best interests of ~all~ employees in the ~most~ efficient possible manner. Other scenarios are less reassuring. Information-sharing, appropriately done, is an essential ingredient in building trust. Management is showing the minimum possible trust in the rest of the firm, and their communications seem to be “ineffective, grudging and late.” I don’t think that one needs to be hatin’ on Heller to think that this bodes ill.

  11. 11 Jayne Loughry 8 October 2008 at 8:52 am

    From the memos and news reports I’ve read, you folks look to be in a worse situation than we were at Brobeck (at least we got our final paychecks and accrued vacation). So what are you doing? Dumping personal attacks on the person who’s done the most to try to help the Heller employees or — with too few exceptions — sitting silently by while others attack him. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

    HD, I wouldn’t fault you if you shut the blog down, spend your time and energy taking care of yourself, and let these people fend for themselves.

  12. 12 WTF? 8 October 2008 at 9:00 am

    As a former staff, I spent time arranging for a transfer from the HEWM 401K to a personal IRA at Vangard. My timing was bad, however, and the transfer has been frozen in the system since Monday. I will need to complete all of the steps again when the Firm releases the freeze. (Btw, the Vangard staff have been very helpful, professional and cordial.)

    If I had needed to do a withdrawal I would have been severely affected by a freeze of which I received no notice. If there are legitimate steps in the process for unwinding the plan which necessitate a freeze, sharing that fact would be more palatable than the pablum of “SO THAT THE ASSETS CAN BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE EMPLOYEES” as stated above. – End rant.

    Many thanks to HellerDrone for all your work in support of others by assembling these resources and continuing the flow of information.

    And very best wishes for all the employees to find dry land without swallowing any water.

  13. 13 Yet another ex-Hellerite 8 October 2008 at 9:06 am

    I can *kinda* see both sides of this. On one hand, 51 sounds like a complete HR tool. On the other hand, Carol Budinger (at least as I recall) was always a straight shooter. She’s been there a long time. If Drone had contacted her and asked what was up, I imagine she would’ve told him (her?).

    So could he (she?) have called Carol first to get some confirmation? Sure. Does that make him “shamelessly irresponsible” for posting the info? Hell no. If you want to see what “shamelessly irresponsible” looks like, check out “Heller Ehrman’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 4, 2006-2008 (aka “The Strategic Architecture Years”)”

  14. 14 Pissed Off Fact Verifier 8 October 2008 at 9:14 am

    HD — If it wasn’t for you we would have no information WHATSOEVER. I applaud you and tip my hat to you for thinking about the staff of HE and doing something invaluable for us.

    I just got off the phone two minutes ago with Vanguard. I was told to call Carol Budinger. I was also told that my account was in fact frozen by Heller.

    Employee 151: The e-mail was just distributed which tells us NOTHING THAT WE DON’T ALREADY KNOW (THANKS HELLER DRONE). Why should we be paying for plan administration fees? That’s the responsibility of HELLER. This is an ABSOLUTE ASS FUCKING….

    I don’t really care what the Dissolution Committee has to deal with. They made this bed but expect all of us to lie in it with them.

    I WANT and AM ENTITLED to my last paycheck upon my EXIT. I WANT and AM ENTITLED to the proceeds of my 401(k) if I so choose to draw them out.

  15. 15 LB 8 October 2008 at 9:37 am

    Kudos to HD which has helped me answer many of my questions!! HD ignor all of the Dissolution Committee coments they posted. I agree with (24 hours?) “Employee 151 – Management should stop reading Heller Drone (for information) and start preparing a memo to employees detailing that our accounts were frozen (for whatever reason) on 10/6/08”

    Keep up the good job HD, we all depend on you.


  16. 16 Recent Ex-Hellerite 8 October 2008 at 9:49 am

    Pissed Off Fact Verifier, we all share your sentiments.

    But I have to warn you, I left the firm on Monday and have not yet received a single cent for my time. No paycheck at all, much less the 6 weeks of accrued vacation time they owed me. I know people who left on Friday who have not been paid either. So much for their “oral approval” to fund payroll. Did they ever get that in writing? For those of you worrying about the meaning of payroll through October 10th, apparently it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t mean anything anyway.

    It would be better for everyone if they would just let people go, even if without pay, so that they can collect unemployment, rather than having to wait until Thanksgiving, of all times, to not receive pay and then go on unemployment! Unbelievable and thoughtless crew on that Dissolution Committee.

    Keep up the communication, HD. Information truly is power in this case, and we are going to need as much of this as possible for our future actions.

  17. 17 Ugh2This 8 October 2008 at 10:45 am

    employee151 — there is a very simple solution to this. Next time *before* the firm needs to take an action like this which impacts everyone directly, send out an email at least 24-48 hours in advance saying what is going to happen.

    The fault for the panic that has been caused here is not HD’s, it rests squarely on the shoulders of the management for not providing this communication in advance. Did they not think for a moment that people might view this action negatively in the absence of reasonable advance notice?

    You are right, this is real life and people do get scared when they are not given information in advance. It makes them worry that their money is not secure and might have been improperly taken. Whether this is justified or not, it could have been avoided entirely by simply sending an email or typing up a memo and having it distributed to everyone (people do still know how to type there…right?).

    Don’t fall back on this “there are many many issues the Dissolution Committee is handling” nonsense. That is a complete cop out and abdication of managements responsibilities to *all* Heller staff and attorneys, and you know it. It would have taken 10-15 minutes tops to type up a quick all hands message saying “we are going to be freezing the 401k on Wednesday due to (insert reason here); we will be providing you with additional details as they become available.”

    If this *had* been done, the concerns and panic would have been minimized because people would have the knowledge and ability to ask questions *in advance*. Your attempts to shift the blame to someone else instead of owning up to the fact that a serious error in judgement was made in how this was handled is more than transparent. Next time, the person who’s responsibility this is should stay the extra 30 minutes at the end of the day and send the email!

    Chin up HD and best wishes again to *all* Heller staff and attorneys.

  18. 18 Legal Secretary 8 October 2008 at 12:27 pm

    “employee 151” and “sad it’s over” disgust me!

    Trolls are always a pain – but for two of them to appear like ghouls on this site to yell at and taunt HD for helping us is just too much! I note that while ‘151’ and ‘sad’ have contempt for us clinging to HD like a lifeline, neither of them have the decency to admit that the reason we need a lifeline at all is because Heller has tossed us overboard like unwanted garbage.

    And sinking even faster beneath the waves was our jettisoned sabbaticals, plan contribution, Christmas bonus, raise – and finally accrued vacation. Over and over again, this was tossed overboard – and not once, not once, did Heller ever see fit to notify us beforehand. We were instead forced to stand by helplessly and watch our whole economic future sink beneath the waves. And now, in total silence, secrecy – without even the slightest possible chance of us being given even a say in how our own money, OUR money, which we saved, would be handled – we discover that the Dissolution Committee has stripped us of the last thing we own. Our 401-K’s!

    My god, ‘151’ actually brags that he/she knew yesterday (if not earlier than that) that the Dissolution Committee was going freeze our 401-K’s. But did ‘151’ get off his/her butt to alert us poor wretches that our own money, our life savings, was being frozen without our consent, without our knowledge? Of course not. Instead, ‘151’ uses his/her energy to rip into poor HD like a buzz saw for daring to do the job which the Committee should have done but flatly refused to.

    Not to be outdone, ‘sad it’s over’ then chimes in to rub salt in the wounds by sneering at HD’s hard work as well.

    Knock it off, the both of you!

    HD – I’m sorry you have to put up with these two! They’re disgraceful!

  19. 19 hellerdrone 9 October 2008 at 9:41 am

    A helpful insight from a Hellerite:

    “I spoke to a friend tonight who is a professional at Smith Barney. She said that freezing the 401(K) accounts is standard operating procedure for any company in dissolution. It is a protection for the holders of the accounts (IOW, us). It allows an audit of the account to make sure that the company hasn’t dipped into the funds in its attempts to stay afloat. She says it’s rare that this happens with law firms, but it does happen, so the audit is done as a matter of course. In other words, tell your readers not to panic.”

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