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Fiduciary News Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 1/28/11

January 31
00:05 2011

1020805_25983300_Trending_Topics_2011.01.28_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300Welcome to Fiduciary News Trending Topics. Each Monday, we’ll give you a quick synopsis of the major news events and trends impacting ERISA plan sponsors, 401k fiduciaries and those in the business of supporting these fine folks. If you smile when you read these entertaining snippets, well, that’s the idea.

Fiduciary News Lead Story:

SEC Fiduciary Report: Who Won? Advisers? Brokers? Or 401k Plan Sponsors?” (Fiduciary News, January 26, 2011). Was the initial euphoria of proponents of the Fiduciary Standard premature? Read the fine print of the SEC report here and decide for yourself.

The Standard: Coffee, Tea or Fiduciary:

One the dust settled, the rejoicing stopped and outright concern rose. Perhaps the Republicans on the SEC Commission were right, albeit for the wrong reasons.

SEC Study Sees Common Standard for Brokers, Advisers,” (Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2011) For those who missed the news, this is a good run down.
What’s Next for the Fiduciary Standard?” (On Wall Street, January 24, 2011) For those wondering, “Where do we go from here?” this article offers some sobering news.
Reaction to SEC’s Fiduciary Study Is Entwined With Politics,” (Advisor One, January 24, 2011) If you’re intrigued by the “inside baseball” of Washington, you’ll definitely want to read this article.
Specific ERISA Fiduciary Standard Lacking: Don Trone,” (Advisor One, January 25, 2011) Trone points out several good points the SEC must address if it means what it says.
SIFMA Supports SEC’s Fiduciary Standard, but Concern Lingers,” (Advisor One, January 26, 2011) When the wolf is in the henhouse, the wolf is very happy. Not that he’d ever admit it, of course.
SEC fiduciary, SRO studies in congressional limbo,” (Investment News, January 26, 2011) Here’s a piece that explains the political ramifications in layman’s terms.
Wanted now: clear, consistent fiduciary standards for investment advice,” (Washington Post, January 27, 2011) Rarely does the fiduciary standard sneak its way into the mainstream media. Here’s an attempt which leaves us only with the knowledge that Michelle Singletary lacks familiarity with the issue, which is not good.
Muddy Waters: Who Are the REAL Financial Planners?” (Financial Planning, January 27, 2011) Bob Veres talks about an analogous situation without stating so.
How Does a Uniform Fiduciary Standard Help the Confused Investor?” (Financial Planning, January 27, 2011) Here’s a great twist to this story – the fiduciary standard helps the industry professionals just as much as it helps the investor.
Coalition Seeks Quick Action On Fiduciary Standard,” (Financial Advisor, January 30, 2011) Looks like the coalition is either naïve or didn’t read the fine print.

Target Date Funds – Would You Like One Lump or Two?:

While the battle line were being drawn above, the nagging problem of Target Date Funds just won’t go away.

New U.S. regulations may not fix target date funds,” (Reuters, January 26, 2011) This article points out the skepticism of that old line “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
Target Date Funds Get a Makeover,” (Institutional Investor, January 26, 2011) Are they anticipating the regulators or just admitting they got it wrong the first time? In either case, managers of target date funds are quietly changing their line-up.

Major Plan Sponsor Moves and News:

What are other plan sponsors and fiduciaries doing with their plans? And how are participants responding? The latest in legal proceedings involving plan sponsors and fiduciaries.

Execs keeping an eye on major court cases,” (Pensions & Investments, January 24, 2011)
Just Out of Reish: Class-ifying Mutual Funds,” (, January 24, 2011)
PLANSPONSOR Unveils Plan Sponsor of the Year Finalists,” (, January 24, 2011)
NJ Court Dismisses Union Pension Challenges,” (, January 24, 2011)
Court OKs Class Actions for ERISA Cases,” (, January 24, 2011)
Misbehavioral Finance – Why Plan Sponsors Fail,” (, January 24, 2011)
Why 401k Loans Can be a Smart Move,” (, January 25, 2011)
With Retirement Savings it’s a Sprint to the Finish,” (New York Times, January 27, 2011)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:

fi360 Blog: fi360 Comments on the SEC fiduciary study
401kBasics: Plan Sponsor Quick Tips: Common Plan Mistakes – Elective Deferral Election Failure
ERISA Lawyer Blog: Third Circuit Holds That The Successor Liability Rule May Be Applied To Hold Buyer Of Assets Liable For Seller’s Unpaid Plan Contributions
fi360 Blog: Fiduciary Links: Reactions to the SEC fiduciary study
401kBasics: Keep The Course: How To Learn About Your 401k Plan
fi360 Blog: What comes next for fiduciary reform?

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:

Wolters Kluwer: DOL Settlements Involve Contributions For Health Plan, ESOP and 401k Plan
Segal: DOL’s Final Regulations on Fee Disclosure to DC Plan Participants
BNA Tax & Accounting: Avoiding Stock Drop Liability: How Bad Does Business Have to Get Before You Pull Company Stock Out of the 401k Plan?
Pension Risk Matters: U.S. Department of Labor and Definition of Fiduciary

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


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