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FiduciaryNews Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 10/2/15

FiduciaryNews Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 10/2/15
October 05
00:02 2015

1020805_25983300_Trending_Topics_2015.10.05_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:
Are Plain-Vanilla 401k Investment Options a Fiduciary Imperative?” (, September 29, 2015) Alts may be the all the rage, but are they really worth it?

Compliance – There’s a Change in the Air:
Folks are beginning to see the light on defined contribution as the best solution to our looming retirement crisis. Will policy makers be left behind?
Consumers Clueless on Key Social Security Benefits: FPA, AARP Survey,” (ThinkAdvisor, September 28, 2015) Would you expect anything different from a Ponzi Scheme?
Alicia Munnell: 3 Workable Ways to Save U.S. Retirement System,” (ThinkAdvisor, September 28, 2015) Munnell really has changed her stripes. She’s now aggressively advocating for 401k plans.
A Great (and Impossible) Plan to Fix Retirement,” (ThinkAdvisor, September 29, 2015) Here’s a not-so favorable review of an idea proposed by someone working with Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Fiduciary – What Will We Talk About When the DOL Decides?:
Who are we kidding? “Fiduciary” has been the main topic since before the DOL proposed any rule and it will remain the main topic until all advisers are required to act as a fiduciary – and even after that.
Proposed DOL fiduciary regulation may lead to unintended roadblocks for 403b plans,” (Employee Benefit Advisor, September 28, 2015) “Unintended” or “intended”? And the proposed rule only presents a roadblock to insurance salesmen, which the author just happens to be. The evolution of the 403b market away from group plans and more towards a 401k-like individual account market is contrary to the author’s claims.
DOL official promises changes to fiduciary rule based on avalanche of comments,” (InvestmentNews, September 29, 2015) There’s a loophole in the proposed rule that allows brokers to continue to charge conflict-of-interest fees. Rather than close that loophole, this article makes it appear that the DOL, in heeding the pleas of the industry lobbyists, will widen it.
Bogle: Compromises to DOL Rule May Be Needed,” (Wealth Management, September 30, 2015) Bogle always goes one inch too far in his comments. Once again, he comes off sounding like just another Vanguard wholesaler. He even stretches the truth like a wholesaler, claiming Vanguard doesn’t have conflict-of-interest fees (see “Due Diligence has New Vanguard ‘Low-Cost’ Product Opening to Mixed Reviews,”, February 7, 2012).
For some, DOL fiduciary rule is proverbial road to hell,” (BenefitsPro, September 30, 2015) Interesting. Opponents of the proposed Fiduciary Rule are tying it with controversial DOL efforts to support state-run retirement plans.
Fiduciary Supporters Strike Back,” (OnWallStreet, October 1, 2015) Supporters want to protect consumers. We’re not so show the DOL’s proposed rule is the best way to do that.

Fees – Don’t Look Now!:
Could it be we’re finally going to see some focus on the fees that matter?
Hidden 401k Fees,” (Time, September 28, 2015) Impressive! A main stream media article that talks about the fees that matter. Nowhere in this article do you see a reference to “high expense ratios.” Nope, it focuses like a laser beam on conflict-of-interest fees.
Why SEC Is Cracking Down on 12b-1 Fees and ‘Distribution-in-Guise’,” (ThinkAdvisor, October 1, 2015) You can’t blame them for being creative. You can blame them for being deceitful, though.

Investments – There’s Nothing Like a Crises to Focus the Mind:
As we head towards correction territory, we’re beginning to see lamentations for past sins.
4 Ways To Rebound Your Retirement After A Market Correction,” (Forbes, September 29, 2015) Stays the course, invest more, and invest in the right things. Pretty generic, but you’d be amazed how many people can learn from generic.
How to avoid portfolio performance envy,” (MarketWatch, September 29, 2015) In a nutshell, know what’s important to you. In other words, no one wants their tombstone to read “He Beat the S&P 500.”
Alts in 401k plans?” (BenefitsPro, September 30, 2015) Explains why they work for big institutions but not everyday investors.

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.
How millennials should save for retirement,” (USA Today, September 27, 2015)
Financial planning is beyond investments, retirement plans,” (CNBC, September 27, 2015)
Will Millennials Ever Be Able to Retire?” (ThinkAdvisor, September 28, 2015)
4 market volatility messages to share with 401k plan participants,” (Employee Benefit News, September 28, 2015)
Who cares about socially responsible retirement plans?” (BenefitsPro, September 28, 2015)
Clients Stumped on Social Security, And It’s Worse Than You Think,” (Financial Planning, September 29, 2015)
The Biggest Reason Workers Don’t Save for Retirement,” (Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2015)
A Growing Number Of Retirement Plan Sponsors Thinking Of Dumping Their Financial Advisor,” (Financial Advisor, October 1, 2015)
Help Clients Avoid Pitfalls of a Retirement Paradise,” (Financial Planning, October 1, 2015)
Optimizing the Tax Treatment for Required Minimum Distributions,” (On Wall Street, October 1, 2015)
Nearly $1M Left in Abandoned 401k,” (PLANSPONSOR, October 1, 2015)
Financial education the foundation for improved employee productivity,” (Benefit News, October 2, 2015)

Trends and News for Retirement Savers:
If you’re a retirement plan fiduciary – whether a plan sponsor or a financial professional, don’t you think it’s a good idea to keep up on the topics retirement savers are most interested in? That’s what the media tries to do. Here’s what they think is on the mind of the people saving for retirement.
How Millions of Americans Are Flubbing Retirement,” (Money, September 24, 2015)
Working in retirement means going back to school,” (MarketWatch, September 25, 2015)
Social Security Q&A: Can I Get Widow(er)’s Benefits if I Remarry before 60 and then Divorce?” (Forbes, September 25, 2015)
The Sharing Economy Attracts Older Adults,” (The New York Times, September 25, 2015)
Make a plan before required minimum distributions kick in,” (MarketWatch, September 25, 2015)
Two Big Reasons You Need More Retirement Savings,” (Forbes, September 25, 2015)
Student debt repayment takes priority over retirement planning,” (Benefit News, September 25, 2015)
10 ways millennials deal with retirement planning,” (BenefitsPro, September 28, 2015)
Choosing work over retirement can help people stay healthy,” (BenefitsPro, September 29, 2015)
Successful Budgeting for Clients Who May Not Have Enough to Retire,” (On Wall Street, September 30, 2015)
Millennials: How to Become a 401k Millionaire,” (Fox Business, September 30, 2015)
What to consider before rolling over your 401k,” (CBS News, September 30, 2015)
How Thinking About Retirement Shapes Your Life,” (U.S. News, September 30, 2015)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Scholarly Financial Planner: DOL Conflicts of Interest Rule: Great for Small Investors … and the U.S. Economy! |
The Chicago Financial Planner: What I’m Reading – Super Bowl I Rematch Edition |
Business of Benefits: Website Privacy Policies and the Federal Trade Commission’s Authority over Retirement Plans |
fi360: Understanding Marketing Volume VI: Content Marketing |
The Retirement Plan Blog: Who pays 401k fees? Us or them? |
Behavior Gap: We See What We Want to See |
Scholarly Financial Planner: Should the DOL’s “Education Exemption” Sunset? |
Pension Risk Matters: Is Seventy the New Thirty? |
Squared Away Blog: Don’t Worry About Money. Just Be Happy |
Scholarly Financial Planner: Variable Annuities under the DOL’s Proposed Fiduciary Requirements: Is Your Due Diligence Sufficient? |
Nerd’s Eye View: IRS Requires Estates To Request Estate Closing Letter |
The Chicago Financial Planner: Six Reasons Small Businesses Should Offer a 401k Plan |
Behavior Gap: Your Blind Spots Are Getting in the Way |
Proskauer’s ERISA Practice Center Blog: “Highest Contribution Rate” Means Highest of Any CBA for ERISA Withdrawal Liability Payments |
fi360: Discover your WHY statement |
Squared Away Blog: The Common Struggles of Working People |
RetirementRevised: Obamacare isn’t spurring earlier retirement – at least, not yet |
fi360: Robos, DOL, and the Future |
Behavior Gap: Find a Tiny Moment of Accountability |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
The Motley Fool: What’s a 403b Plan? |
NAPA Net: The Battle for DC Data Is Heating Up |
NAPA Net: Are Plan Sponsors Ready for Money Market Fund Reform? |
NAPA Net: The Advisor Difference |
NAPA Net: 5 Things Millennials Need to Know About Saving for Retirement |
NAPA Net: DC Outcomes: The Impact of Timing |
NAPA Net: IRS Updates Instructions for EPCRS Form |
The Motley Fool: The 4-Percent Rule: 3 Reasons to Rethink Your Retirement |
Kiplinger: Survivor Benefit, Boost Social Security Checks |
Morningstar: Where Retirees Are Feeling Inflation |
NAPA Net: Can a Plan Charge Fees to Terminated Participants But Not Active Ones? |
NAPA Net: CITs in 401k Plans |
NAPA Net: Study Criticizing Fiduciary Rule Costs Brookings Economist His Position |
The Motley Fool: SEP IRA Rules | NCPA’s New DCGE Tax Model |
NAPA Net: How Many Government Agencies Does it Take to Regulate a Retirement Plan? |
NAPA Net: Website Privacy a Fresh Concern for Plans |
NAPA Net: The Unpredictability of 401k Plans |
NAPA Net: GAO: Feds Could Help States Help Retirement Plan Coverage |
The Motley Fool: The Market Swoon Could Make These Annuities More Popular Than Ever |
NAPA Net: House Committee Passes Bill That Would Delay Fiduciary Rule |
NAPA Net: ‘I Don’t Know Who Erisa Is, But I Don’t Want Her Working on Our Plan…’ |
NAPA Net: Scale Matters for Plan Advisors More Than Ever |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


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