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FiduciaryNews Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/19/14

December 22
00:02 2014

1020805_25983300_Trending_Topics_2014.12.22_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300Welcome to FiduciaryNews 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. If you think we’re missing something important, then please let us know. But, note this well, we avoid press releases masquerading as news stories (even though they might be reported by journalists) as well as mass media pabulum that merely mouths investment myths and mistakes.

FiduciaryNews Lead
Exclusive Interview: Skip Schweiss Calls Disclosure ‘Terrible,’ Says It Would ‘Confuse’ Investors,” (, December 16, 2014). Schweiss says forcing  brokers to abide by a fiduciary standard probably is “not a good strategy any more” and the government is no longer a viable part of the fiduciary solution.

Compliance – The Times They are a Changin’:
There are going to be big changes in the regulatory world come the new year.
Congress passes multiemployer pension reforms effort,” (Employee Benefit News, December 12, 2014) “In order to save pension plans, we must destroy them.” That, in essence, is the gist of this new reform. It allows risky pensions to reduce benefits to stave off the inevitable end of any Ponzi Scheme. The net result is pensions will survive just long enough to infect the retirement of a new generation of employees.
Hatch presses small employers to offer 401k plans,” (Employee Benefit News, December 15, 2014) This is all about the MEP. And if you don’t know what that is, you better get up to speed. Fast.
A Christmas miracle,” (BenefitsPro, December 16, 2014) No longer will the diligent and honest suffer for the sins of insincere free-loaders.
Sen. Hatch’s 2015 Priority: Torpedo DOL Fiduciary Efforts,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 15, 2014) Too late. That train has already left the station. Even fiduciary advocates are saying they don’t want the government involved in their industry anymore. They want the market to decide.
FSI to fight rollout of auto IRAs,” (InvestmentNews, December 17, 2014) Well, somebody’s got to do the dirty work.
Legal fight likely over pension reforms,” (BenefitsPro, December 17, 2014) Is a promise that will hurt an innocent bystander a valid promise? That’s the question the courts will have to answer.
Is it time to break up the SEC?” (BenefitsPro, December 17, 2014) What should one government agency have all the fun? Besides, how can it possible best serve three different competing interests? No wonder why it just doesn’t get the “best interests” part of the fiduciary duty.

Fiduciary – There’s No Escaping It:
Just because they tell you it’s good doesn’t mean it’s good. And don’t forget, you’re the only one held responsible.
Why you don’t (yet) have an annuity in your 401k,” (MarketWatch, December 13, 2014) Why, you may ask, isn’t this in the “Investments” category? Look at the reason that addresses the title. It’s all about fiduciary concerns.

Fees – The Time Will Come:
Don’t think the silence will remain. It will soon explode.

Investments – Flubber Dubber:
Sometimes, that’s exactly what the investment world seems like. Last week was a good example.
“What You Need to Know About Sequence of Returns in Retirement,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 12, 2104) You can spend a lot of time worrying about this, or you can simply make sure you have at least 2 years of expense in cash when you retire.
Use The Drop In Oil Prices To Boost Retirement Income,” (Forbes, December 13, 2014) Ah, growing dividends. Is there no better friend to a retiree?
Why 2015 is the year for longevity annuities,” (Fortune, December 17, 2014) So says the insurance lobby.
Younger workers lean on TDFs,” (BenefitsPro, December 18, 2014) This could be a problem if they’re underinvested in equities. They’ll be losing out on the prime earning years of her life.

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.
An Obvious Solution to Sustainable Retirement Income,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 12, 2104)
The cost of changing retirement plans,” (Employee Benefit News, December 12, 2014)
401k tips for job hoppers,” (Yahoo, December 12, 2014)
The Tax Trap of Year-End Qualified Plan Distributions,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 12, 2014)
Moving Business Shares Out of an IRA,” (Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2014)
Six ways to safely spend more in retirement,” (USA Today, December 13, 2014)
Why Workers Undervalue Traditional Pension Plans,” (Money, December 15, 2014)
Lockheed Martin Case Puts 401k, Plans On Trial,” (NPR, December 15, 2014)
Nationwide agrees to $140M ERISA settlement,” (BenefitsPro, December 15, 2014)
6 Simple Projects To Make Your Home More Retirement-Friendly,” (Money, December 15, 2014)
The year in retirement,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, December 16, 2014)
2014: What a year in retirement-plan land,” (Employee Benefit News, December 16, 2014)
Why Older Americans Are More Financially Vulnerable,” (US News, December 17, 2014)
Year-end bonus? 3 smart ways to use it to build wealth,” (CBS News, December 17, 2014)
The Best Way to Tap Your IRA In Retirement,” (Money, December 17, 2014)
5 retirement plan resolutions for 2015,” (Employee Benefit News, December 17, 2014)
Retirement: New Year’s resolutions for wealth, health,” (USA Today, December 17, 2104)
When Social Security Rules of Thumb Don’t Work,” (Financial Planning, December 17, 2104)
30 Best Big 401k Plans: BrightScope,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 17, 2014)
Retirement index shows many still at risk,” (MarketWatch, December 17, 2014)
How Much Investment Money Can You Take Out In Retirement,” (Forbes, December 17, 2014)
Retirement assets steady at $24.2 trillion,” (BenefitsPro, December 17, 2014)
A Financial Adviser’s Flowchart Gives His Confused Clients Clarity to Make a Decision,” (Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2014)
Good news on retirement—if you’re willing to wait,” (MarketWatch, December 18, 2014)
Personal Finance: Determining your Social Security base,” (USA Today, December 18, 2014)
Do You Spend More Time Researching Your Phone or 401k?” (DailyFinance, December 18, 2014)
Why 401k Withdrawal Rules Are All Wrong,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 19, 2014)


Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Fiduciary Matters Blog: Excessive Fee Case Against Lockheed Martin Goes to Trial – UPDATED |
Fiduciary Matters Blog: After 13 years, Haddock v. Nationwide settles for $140,000,000 |
Pension Risk Matters: Pensions and Bankruptcy Claimants |
The Trust Advisor: Millionaires More Confident in US Economy: Survey |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: On Required Distributions From Retirement Plans and IRAs |
The 401k Plan Blog: Hatch’s remarks on Pension Reform – Financial Services Roundtable |
The Chicago Financial Planner: My Top 10 Most Read Posts of 2014 |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: IRS Provides Guidance On Maintaining Retirement Plan Records |
Squared Away Blog: Evaluating a Pension Buyout Offer |
Frugal Fiduciary: There are no “economies of scale” in 401k plans – beat the market |
Proskauer’s ERISA Practice Center Blog: How to Settle an ERISA Breach of Fiduciary Duty Case and Sleep at Night: A Checklist for Plan Trustees to Consider |
Proskauer’s ERISA Practice Center Blog: 401k Plan Participant Waived ERISA Stock-Drop Claim |
Proskauer’s ERISA Practice Center Blog: Ninth Circuit Breathes Life Into Participant’s Claim for Surcharge |
Pension Risk Matters: Santa Claus and the Fiduciary Standard |
Fred Reish: ERISA Issues for Solicitor’s Fees |


Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: CROmnibus: The ‘Fix’ is in for Multiemployer Pensions |
NAPA Net: Retirement Wealth of Older Americans Hits New High |
Motley Fool: How to Ignore Roth IRA Contribution Limits and Put Away Over $30,000 Per Year |
NAPA Net: ‘Choice’ Architecture — for Plan Sponsors |
Motley Fool: A Breakdown of How Your Social Security Tax Dollars Are Spent |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Electronic Delivery of Plan Participant Notices |
NAPA Net: Hatch Says it’s Time for 401k Supporters to Go on Offense |
NAPA Net: Participants Putting Less Stock in Company Stock |
Getting Your Financial Ducks In A Row: Retirement vs College Saving in a Nutshell |
NAPA Net: Nationwide Settles Revenue Sharing Lawsuit — for $140 Million |
NAPA Net: Long-Term Investors and Short-Term Traders: Different Agendas |
NAPA Net: Year-end IRA Reminders: IRS Issues its Top 4 |
NAPA Net: Unfunded Liabilities from Sea to Shining Sea |
NAPA Net: Lockheed Settles Revenue Sharing Lawsuit Hours Before Trial |
NAPA Net: Survey: Non-retirees Prefer 401k to Pension |
Morningstar: How to Fix Social Security |


Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


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