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FiduciaryNews Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/18/15

FiduciaryNews Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/18/15
December 21
00:01 2015

Welcome 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. “When everybody’s a fiduciary…  no one is.”

FiduciaryNews Lead:
Exclusive Interview: Clark Blackman II Says SEC Fiduciary Fix ‘Not Tough Stuff’; Proposed DOL Fiduciary Rule a ‘Band-Aid’,” (, December 15, 2015) “…if you are operating under the fiduciary standard… the future of regulation may dramatically change the very business model you have come to love; and the reasons you love it are the very same reasons it is under attack.”

Compliance – Faux Policy and Faux Regulation:
You can’t have one without the other, or without a compliant media.
Pushing Aside 401k Plans for Mandatory Savings Plans,” (The New York Times, December 11, 2015) We warned you this was coming. Alas, so many failed assumptions. Can we get a fact check here?
Is the SEC’s treatment of CPAs vs brokers confusing investors?” (BenefitsPro, December 17, 2015) The SEC has some ‘splainin’ to do.

Fiduciary – It’s Still a Potential Liability:
For all the talk about the Fiduciary Rule and its potential impact on service providers, we can’t forget the liability exposure of plan sponsors.
Will new fiduciary rules hurt smallest accounts, broker-dealers?” (Benefit News, December 14, 2014) Short answer: “No.”
Passive Funds Come With Own Fiduciary Risks,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 17, 2015) Contrary to popular perception, selecting an index fund does not remove or even reduce fiduciary liability. Indeed, because of the nature of the investment management of index funds, they can potentially increase fiduciary liability.
Fidelity targeted in another ERISA class-action suit,” (InvestmentNews, December 17, 2015) This one pertains to stable income funds. It’s a bit outside-the-box, but if it works, it’ll scare a lot more stable income managers.

Fees – On Christmas Break?:
The truth ease, much of the underlying theme on most fiduciary-related stories deals with fees.

Investments – All About Interest Rates:
Why not right about a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things?
7 Reasons I’m Not Fond Of Annuities,” (Financial Advisor, December 1, 2015) This is what Ric Edelman believes.
Bear-market signs have investors thinking defense,” (MarketWatch, December 11, 2015) Wow. Old school. Let’s make investing as difficult as possible.
Retirees to benefit from Fed’s historic rate move,” (InvestmentNews, December 15, 2015) Yes, yes, we all know – higher rates means (eventually) higher income yields. But the article is worth it just for the cool picture of a Saturn V rocket equipped with Space Shuttle solid fuel boosters.
Rate Hike Is Milestone for Retirees,” (Money, December 16, 2015) Well, not really, but it’s something nice to think about.
U.S. Rate Hike Is A Major Milestone For Retirees,” (Financial Advisor, December 18, 2015) Hmm, isn’t that a coincidence?

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.
Transformational trends shaping the retirement market,” (Benefit News, December 14, 2015)
5 things to consider about pension de-risking,” (BenefitsPro, December 14, 2015)
The Untold Tales Of Retirement,” (Financial Advisor, December 14, 2015)
DOL makes Form 5500 compliance questions optional for 2015,” (Benefit News, December 15, 2015)
4 things to tell 401k plan participants about interest rate hikes,” (Employee Benefit News, December 16, 2015)
Cashouts, loans responsible for $80 billion in retirement outflows,” (BenefitsPro, December 16, 2015)
Should plan sponsors consider working with an RIA?” (Employee Benefit Adviser, December 17, 2015)
5 retirement resolutions for the future,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, December 18, 2015)

Trends and Truths 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.
Six Financial Mistakes People Make When Retiring Abroad,” (Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2015)
The Untold Tales Of Retirement,” (Financial Planning, December 14, 2015)
Two Big 401k Blunders To Avoid,” (Forbes, December 14, 2015)
10 retirement resolutions for 2016,” (US News, December 14, 2015)
When Does It Pay to Wait for Social Security?” (Money, December 15, 2015)
10 Painless Ways to Save More for Retirement,” (US News, December 15, 2015)
Why you might retire to a tiny house — by choice,” (MarketWatch, December 16, 2015)
How to tell whether you can afford to retire early,” (CNN, December 16, 2015)
9 Tips for Investors Getting a Late Start on Retirement Savings,” (US News, December 16, 2015)
The checklist you need to manage multiple retirement accounts,” (MarketWatch, December 16, 2015)
Parent Trap Involves $71 Billion Of Federal Education Debt,” (Financial Advisor, December 18, 2015)
4 ways to retire by age 55,” (MarketWatch, December 18, 2015)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Chicago Financial Planner: 8 Portfolio Rebalancing Tips |
fi360: Benchmarking Fees Webinar Q&A |
Behavior Gap: Too Little Experience Can Make Shortcuts Dangerous |
The Trust Advisor: Inflation May Have A Bigger Effect On Your Savings |
Squared Away Blog: 401k Plans Tapped for Holiday Gifts |
Behavior Gap: The Most Valuable Asset You Own: Yourself |
Employee Benefits: IRS Provides Guidance On Application Of Obergefell To Qualified Retirement Plans And Welfare Plans |
RetirementRevised: Fed rate hike: Start of something good for retirees? |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: IRS Issues 2015 Cumulative List Of Changes In Plan Qualification Requirements |
Proskauer’s ERISA Practice Center Blog: Court Awards $11.7M in Attorneys’ Fees In Fund Mapping Case |
Scholarly Financial Planner: Are We Moving Toward a Profession? Recent Developments re: DOL Rule, CFS, IFS, SEC, and CFP Board |
Behavior Gap: P.S. On the Investment of You |
fi360: QDIAs and the Challenges Facing Plan Sponsors |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Experts See Advisor M&A Picking Up |
NAPA Net: What’s Your Favorite Holiday Movie? |
NAPA Net: TDFs Top Outflow List in November |
NAPA Net: An End-of-Year Checklist for Executive Compensation Plans |
Morningstar: Planning for the Dementia Factor in Retirement |
The Motley Fool: Yikes! Americans Are Leaving $100,000 or More in Social Security Money on the Table |
NAPA Net: Prescient Perspectives on the Road Ahead |
NAPA Net: Wishful Thinking? 10 Retirement Industry Holiday ‘Wishes’ |
NAPA Net: Small Plans Going it Alone |
NAPA Net: Morningstar Upgraded Ratings of 2 Funds, Downgraded 7 in November |
Kiplinger: Some Social Security Loopholes Will Still Be Around in 2016 |
NAPA Net: No Fiduciary Rule Relief in Budget Bill |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: IRS Levy Process for Retirement Plan Assets |
NAPA Net: Market Forces Greater Than DOL Rule |
Morningstar: Retiree Needs Help Investing Large Cash Stake |
The Motley Fool: Turning 65 in 2016? Here’s What You Need to Know |
NAPA Net: Prudent Process Preempts Prudence Presumption in Stock Suit |
NAPA Net: What Do Plan Sponsors Ask About Advisors? |
Morningstar: Getting a Portfolio De-Cluttered and Retirement-Ready |
NAPA Net: ‘Unduly Conservative’ Investment Strategy Draws Excessive Fee Suit |
NAPA Net: It’s a Wonderful Red-Nosed Miracle Christmas Carol! |
NAPA Net: 403(b) Market Ripe for Plan Advisors? |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


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