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What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 4/1/16 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 4/1/16
April 04
00:06 2016

Welcome to 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 Story:
The Three Best Most Obvious Tips Retirement Savers Too Often Ignore,” (, March 29, 2016) These three tips may appear obvious, but you can immediately see why they are often ignored.

Compliance – Fixin’ the Fixes:
Maybe a little outside-the-box thinking is just what the doctor ordered.
Donald Trump’s Social Security Plan Makes A Lot of Sense,” (TheStreet, February 20, 2016) It’s not been widely reported, but Donald Trump’s Rx for Social Security might just be what the doctor ordered.
What clients need to know about IRS’ plans to curtail determination letters,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 29, 2016) The fact plan sponsors have relied on periodically updated determination letters just proves there’s too many layers to regulation. How about a plain vanilla option that is so obvious it doesn’t need an annual blessing from the bureaucracy?
18 States Eye New Retirement Plans For Private-Sector Workers,” (NASDAQ, March 29, 2016) Why let a little thing like ERISA protections get in the way of a good political scam?
Goodbye, Backdoor Roth?” (Wealth Management, March 30, 2016) Fascinating. While the Republicans are busy with their quadrennial push to dismember a frontrunner in the best position to win in November, the Democrats are quietly making it more difficult for people to become less dependent on government.

Fiduciary – The Time is Nigh!:
It’s almost here! As we wait with the same rapt anticipation we remember as kids on Christmas Eve, we can’t help by wondering what’s inside the gift-wrapped box marked “From the DOL.” Will it be that new Red Rider Rifle we’ve dreamed of? Or will it be pink bunny underwear? We’ll all know if we get to shoot our eye out in a matter of days.
Some retirement plan record keepers resort to aggressive sales tactics with proprietary products,” (InvestmentNews, March 27, 2016) Isn’t this supposed to be addressed by the DOL’s new Conflict-of-Interest Rule?
The rollover irony of the DOL’s proposed fiduciary rule,” (InvestmentNews, March 30, 2016) Could poor wording actually force retail investors away from fiduciary advisers and into brokers who can avoid calling themselves fiduciaries?
Study: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Fiduciary Rule,” (Financial Advisor, April 1, 2016) As a journalist, you almost never want your story to appear on April 1st. Reader just don’t if it’s a serious article or a joke. Take this one. We’re pretty sure it’s serious, but the survey doesn’t say people support the “Fiduciary Rule,” it says they support requiring financial advisers to “put client’s best interests first.” That may or may not be the same as the Fiduciary Rule when it’s all said and done.
DOL fiduciary rule said ready for release April 6,” (BenefitsPro, April 1, 2016) It’s showtime!

Fees – Incredibly, Silence:
You’d think on the verge of a huge conflict-of-interest crusade, we’d at least have some advance articles.

Investments – Jack-in-the-Box:
Admit it. Even when you knew what was coming, you couldn’t help but be scared. That’s the way it is when emotions conflict with common sense. In the end, common sense always win.
The flaw in target date fund QDIAs,” (BenefitsPro, March 22, 2016) There’s more to this story than meets the eye, and the author merely touches on the tip of the iceberg.
Required Minimum Distributions and real estate are a tricky combination,” (MarketWatch, March 25, 2016) Do these bad investment ideas never cease?

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.
Loan activity from 401k plans rising,” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 23, 2016)
This retirement savings account can be a super-IRA,” (CBS News, March 24, 2016)
DB Plan Assets Down Slightly in 2015, DC Plan Assets Up,” (Plan Sponsor, March 24, 2016)
401k Advisers Often Miss the Point of Reviews,” (Financial Planning, March 28, 2016)
One Surprising Way to Get People to Save More,” (Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2016)
How to Address Clients’ 2 Biggest Retirement Issues,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 29, 2016)
Employees’ retirement confidence grows, but savings still ‘alarmingly low’,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 29, 2016)
Leading retirement expert pushes RFPs to test adviser credibility,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 30, 2016)
Behavioral finance: Tear down this wall,” (BenefitsPro, March 30, 2016)
Retirement plan reviews missing the mark in terms of focus, frequency,” (Employee Benefit News, March 30, 2016)
5 retirement savings plan engagement strategies for young employees,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 30, 2016)
How to tell if a 401k plan investment adviser measures up,” (Employee Benefit News, March 30, 2016)
Helping generation Xers get ready for retirement,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 30, 2016)
A Magic Formula for Retirement Planning,” (Financial Planning, March 31, 2016)
ERISA attorney cautions plan sponsors against settling cases,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, April 1, 2016)

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.
Retirement planning made easy and inexpensive,” (MarketWatch, March 23, 2016)
Why dollar-cost averaging doesn’t make sense,” (CNN, March 23, 2016)
A widow’s Social Security options,” (Yahoo Finance, March 23, 2016)
Best Jobs for Avoiding Forced Retirement,” (Money, March 23, 2016)
How People Underestimate Spending in Retirement,” (Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2016)
Traditional IRA vs. Roth IRA: What’s Best?” (ThinkAdvisor, March 28, 2016)
Cutting student loan debt’s effect on retirement,” (BenefitsPro, March 28, 2016)
How couples can make smart retirement decisions together,” (MarketWatch, March 28, 2016)
9 Ways to Help Your 401k to Grow Faster,” (Yahoo Finance, March 28, 2016)
9 Social Security Myths Worth Busting,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 28, 2016)
Are you as good at saving as millennials?” (CNBC, March 28, 2016)
Longevity can be an asset in retirement,” (InvestmentNews, March 29, 2016)
How low-saving boomers can still get a significant retirement income boost,” (MarketWatch, March 29, 2016)
Retirement planning wishes vs. reality,” (CBS News, March 29, 2016)
Making Money Last in Retirement: Smart Strategies,” (TIME, March 29, 2016)
Americans Tap Retirement, Emergency Funds To Spoil Children,” (Financial Advisor, March 30, 2016)
Why Most Retirement-Income Plans Lead to Over-Saving and Over-Working,” (Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2016)
Avoid local Social Security offices and file for benefits online,” (InvestmentNews, March 30, 2016)
The Big Misconception That May Be Sabotaging Your Retirement,” (Money, March 30, 2016)
Last call for Social Security’s file and suspend strategy,” (MarketWatch, March 30, 2016)
The 3 biggest financial surprises for new retirees,” (CNBC, March 30, 2016)
3 new retirement portfolios for millennials,” (BenefitsPro, March 31, 2016)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Retirement Plan Blog: Boomerang Employees and 401k Considerations |
Fred Reish: Distribution and Rollover Education |
Squared Away Blog: Work Absenteeism Tied to Money Stress |
Behavior Gap: Think Twice About Your Assumptions |
Nerd’s Eye View: New IRS Form 8971 To Report Beneficiary Cost Basis |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: IRS Reminds Us That Many Retirees Face April 1 Deadline to Take Required Retirement Plan Distributions |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: Eighth Circuit Holds That Case, Involving Plaintiff’s Claim Of Breach Of ERISA Fiduciary Duty, Must Be Remanded To Determine Whether Parties Waived The Use Of Collateral Estoppel To Block Plaintiff’s Claim |
RetirementRevised: How your tax burden lightens when you retire |
Behavior Gap: How Long Can You Go Without Spending Money? |
Squared Away Blog: 401ks: an Employer-Employee Disconnect |
Data “Points”: The Choices of a Lifetime |
Fred Reish: More Thoughts on Distributions and Rollovers |
The Chicago Financial Planner: DOL Fiduciary Rules – What Do They Mean for You? |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA: Net ICI: California’s Secure Choice Feasibility Based on Bad Assumptions |
Morningstar: Relocating in Retirement? Examine the Full Tax Picture |
The Motley Fool: Do You Have as Much Saved for Retirement as the Average American? |
NAPA: California Secure Choice Board ‘Golden’ with State-Run Retirement Plan |
NAPA: 5 Big Ideas from the Retirement Confidence Survey |
NAPA: Survey Finds Gaps in Plan Review Focus |
NAPA: ERISA Investigation Focuses on Fund’s Composition |
Kiplinger: 7 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees |
NAPA: Provider Prevails in Excess Fee Class Action |
NAPA: Financial Wellness: Where Is It Going? |
NAPA: Reish Examines Distribution Advice Versus Education Under Fiduciary Reg |
NAPA: Aging Population a Growing Worldwide Concern |
Kiplinger: Taking Your First Required Minimum Distribution |
The Motley Fool: Spousal IRA Rules for Couples in 2016 |
NAPA: Fifth Third Settles for $6 Million and ‘Change’ |
NAPA: Why Plan Advisors Aren’t Rushing into the Benefits Market |
NAPA: Lessons Learned by State-Run Retirement Programs |
NAPA: Trone: 7 Ways to Become More Resilient |
Kiplinger: Prepare Your Retirement Portfolio for a Downturn |
NAPA: DOL Fiduciary Regulation: The Wait Is (Almost) Over… |
NAPA: Warren Turns up the Heat on Conflict-of-Interest Rule Critics |
NAPA: Average 401k Balances Surged in March |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


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