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Most Widely Read FiduciaryNews.com Stories in 2012 – Honorable Mention

December 18
00:20 2012

As we approach the final two (or is it three?) weeks of the calendar year, we would like to thank all our many readers and subscribers for being so gracious, kind and generous. This year proved another spectacular year for FiduciaryNews.com. In 2012 we surpassed 4,400 subscribers and saw more than 115,000 page views, both figures up considerably from the year before. We also saw healthy interest in and very complimentary reviews of 401k Fiduciary Solutions, a book written by Chief Contributing Editor Christopher Carosa and published by our parent company, Pandamensional Solutions, Inc. With Christmas and New Year’s both falling on our normal publication schedule, we’ll be forced to go off-cycle (i.e., Wednesday) in the next two weeks. It’s a perfect time, then, for an extended rendition of our “Most Widely Read” end of the year series.

In many ways, we’ll remember 2012 as “The Year Without a Fiduciary.” It held so much promise, especially after a disappointing 2011. We finally had the DOL’s Fee Disclosure Rule locked in, and we hoped it was only the beginning. It wasn’t. It was the end. Nothing more from the DOL. Nothing more from the SEC. Well, we weren’t really counting on anything from the SEC.

On a positive note, a reinvigorated Phyllis Borzi promises us the DOL will be entering 2013 on the cusp of issuing the final rule of the new definition of fiduciary. In addition, we won’t have the SEC’s Mary Shapiro to kick around anymore, as she has decided to find employment elsewhere.

That being all said 2012 is not without its lessons and insights. We dove deep into our site’s internal analytics to see if there were any hidden gems in that haystack of bits and bytes. It turns out there were.  One surprising discovery: Our site has gone evergreen. We always intended that, but it’s good to see it confirmed. In fact, one of our top ten stories (#10) was originally published in the middle of 2011. Another story in 2011 narrowly missed the cut in our “Honorable Mentions” category.

The second discovery will have more meaning to our readers. In a way, this analysis measures what plan sponsors, service providers and regulators (yes, even government officials and regulators subscribe to FiduciaryNews.com) feel are the most pressing topics. So, when a nearly two-year old article rises to the top, it tells you the points raised in the article are just as timely (if not more so) today as they were when the piece was originally written.

Without further ado, we begin.

Honorable Mention #3:Why the Traditional Structure of Investment Policy Statements Won’t Work for 401k Plan Sponsors” (March 20, 2012) This article skewers the popular “cookie cutter” investment policy statements advocated by well-known and respected professional groups. These methods, mostly adopted in the late 1980s when the concept of an investment policy statement took off, have failed to evolve, especially as it pertains to the 401k arena. The writing leaves no sacred cow untouched. Read at your own “risk” (of not understanding the pun we just made).

Honorable Mention #2:Experts Sound Off on DOL’s 401k MEP Advisory Opinion” (June 12, 2012) On Memorial Day Weekend the DOL issued an advisory that rocked the nascent MEP movement. It shouldn’t have. The budding trend towards commingling small 401k plans into one, in order to achieve economies-of-scale and to reduce (if not eliminate) the fiduciary liability of small company executives, was just starting to take off when the DOL clipped its wings. To be honest, maybe the wings needed clipping, because MEPs were moving towards the “product” status we so fear and away from the independent governance as originally intended. That this article didn’t score in the top ten, though, tells us readers remain unaware of the potential. They do seem to be the solution to many 401k plan sponsor issues, and may be viewed as a less expensive alternative to insurance products (once fee disclosure actually starts working as advertised.

Honorable Mention #1:New Study Reveals Three 401k Strategies More Important than Asset Allocation” (August 14, 2012) Every so often a difficult editorial decision confronts FiduciaryNews.com: Should we publish an article that exposes myths our readers would rather not see exposed? It’s one of the reasons we’re reluctant to accept advertising – we don’t want to give any service provider any influence over our editorial decisions. This is one of those articles. Perhaps the most important academic study published in 2012 (at least concerning our industry), FiduciaryNews.com was one of the first to publish its results. Other industry and mainstream media didn’t write anything until months later, and then “reinterpreted” the leitmotif of the study for reasons on which one can only speculate. There are many who make a living selling asset allocation. This article doesn’t say there’s anything wrong with that. It just says, for 401k investors, that should be the least of their concerns. Then it explains why.

There you have it. We’d love to see your comments on these articles. Feel free to write them below. Have a discussion. Let us know if you agree with our analysis.

Stay tune for next week’s article (to be published on Boxing Day) when we continue this dialogue with the “Most Widely Read FiduciaryNews.com Stories in 2012 – #6-#10.” In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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