Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker?
What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 4/22/16 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 4/22/16
May 02
00:02 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:
“Excessive” 401k Fees Often in the Eye of the Fund Holder,” (, April 26, 2016) Absent any objective definition of ‘excessive’ and ‘reasonable,’ does the Conflict-of-Interest Rule have any real meaning, or is it merely another potentially lucrative cash-flow stream for class action attorneys courtesy of your friendly neighborhood government regulator?

Compliance – Regressing to the Mean:
In classic “I told you so” style, we see common sense beginning to return, if only in drips, to the retirement plan world.
The IRS attack on illiquid IRAs,” (On Wall Street, April 27, 2016) You knew this was bound to happen. The strategy the IRS is employing is just as creative as the industry strategies that got around the limitations that normally prevented illiquid IRA investments in the first place.
How to modernize traditional defined benefit plans,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, April 28, 2016) Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. While others are trying to refashion DC plans in the mold of DB plans, there’s an effort to recreate DB plans to look more like DC plans.

Fiduciary – Mapping the Brave New World:
It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t have a map. It’s even harder to put together a “do-it-yourself” kit if every other word in the instructions is illegible.
IRA conflicts-of-interest that you didn’t even know existed,” (BenefitsPro, April 27, 2016) If you don’t know what “reverse churning” and “hat switching” is you better read this article.
8 fiduciary rule FAQS for 401k plan advisors,” (BenefitsPro, April 28, 2016) At least in the minds of partners as one law firm. We would have focused on a different set of questions.

Fees – Right on Cue:
Fees are bad. Fees are bad. Fees are bad. Except they’re the only way to receive a quality service.
A fiduciary rule only a class-action attorney could love,” (BenefitsPro, April 26, 2016) Yes, the title says “fiduciary” but the topic is “fees.” And therein lies the problem.
How hidden fees can crack that nest egg,” (CNBC, April 26, 2016) While the author’s intent is laudable, his execution is flawed. The piece offers no real insights, only platitudes and over-used bromides.
Why 401k plan sponsors need to keep an eye on fees,” (Employee Benefit News, April 28, 2016) A good, common sense approach.

Investments – Is Your Risk Out of Date?:
Or is your Date out of Risk? These questions may sound odd, but you better understand why they’re being asked.
Growing bond spreads put defined benefit plans at risk,” (Employee Benefit News, April 22, 2016) It turns out bonds also have short term risks to go along with the usual long term risks they pose.
7 ways plan fiduciaries should monitor target-date funds,” (BenefitsPro, April 25, 2016) A lengthy but comprehensive article that overlooks the primary disadvantages of target-date funds compared to target risk funds.
The Advantage Of Taking More Risk As You Age,” (Financial Advisor, April 30, 2016) Except for lumping target risk funds in with target date funds, the article presents and interesting case on the potential issues with over-reliance on target date funds.

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.
4 best practices for building 401k plan investment line-ups,” (Employee Benefit News, April 22, 2016)
Disappearing pensions hurt U.S. economy as well as workers,” (USA Today, April 23, 2016)
4 ways to communicate with the 21st century workforce,” (BenefitsPro, April 25, 2016)
U.S. lagging global workforce in retirement preparedness,” (Employee Benefit News, April 25, 2016)
How to modernize traditional defined benefit plans,” (Employee Benefit News, April 25, 2016)
DOL files suits, wins judgments,” (BenefitsPro, April 26, 2016)
Plan sponsors seeking more efficient provision of retiree benefits,” (Employee Benefit News, April 26, 2016)
One key way plan sponsors can help retirement savers succeed,” (BenefitsPro, April 27, 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.
Can an annuity act as your pension plan?” (USA Today, April 21, 2016)
Social Security or Savings? Um. Try a Little of Both,” (Bloomberg View, April 21, 2016)
Retirement Income Planning for Kids,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 21, 2016)
If you want to be confident in Plan A, make a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D,” (MarketWatch, April 21, 2016)
How to retire without a 401k,” (US News, April 22, 2016)
Rich People Are Living Longer. That’s Tilting Social Security in Their Favor,” (The New York Times, April 22, 2016)
Three Real-Life Reasons Why Couples Fail At Retirement,” (Forbes, April 23, 2016)
On death, divorce and retirement,” (InvestmentNews, April 24, 2016)
15 Mistakes Smart People Make in Retirement,” (MONEY, April 25, 2016)
How to Become a Millionaire by Retirement,” (US News, April 25, 2106)
Dispatch from the retirement front: Choosing a retirement destination,” (InvestmentNews, April 26, 2016)
Voices of experience about successful retirements,” (CBS News, April 26, 2016)
Should You Max Out Your 401k? Not Necessarily,” (MONEY, April 26, 2016)
How hidden fees can crack that nest egg,” (CNBC, April 26, 2016)
What Is A Safety-First Retirement Plan?” (Forbes, April 26, 2016)
Retirees: What golden years?” (BenefitsPro, April 26, 2016)
Tapping Retirement Accounts Early: The Ins and Outs,” (Wealth Management, April 28, 2016)
How Americans Blow $1.7 Trillion in Retirement Savings,” (Bloomberg, April 28, 2016)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
ERISA Lawyer Blog: Ninth Circuit Discusses Which Party Has Burden Of Proof In A Case Involving A Claim For Pension Benefits |
fi360: Follow up Q&A from our DOL rule webinars: Rollovers and IRAs |
Behavior Gap: You Can Be Average & Still Do Neat Things |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: Employee Benefits-Deadline to Adopt Restated Pre-Approved DC Plans Is Fast Approaching |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #2 |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: IRS Discuss New Way To Correct the Failure to Adopt the Pre-approved Plan by the Applicable Deadline |
Behavior Gap: 30 Days, 3 Seconds: A Money Experiment for Awareness |
fi360: Follow up Q&A from our DOL rule webinars: Plan Services |
The Chicago Financial Planner: Why Should I Care if My Financial Advisor is a Fiduciary? |
Boston ERISA Law Blog: Halo v. Yale, the Second Circuit, Hamilton and Sideways Challenges to the Scope of Discretionary Review |
Squared Away Blog: Stress is One Reason People Retire |
RetirementRevised: Tapping retirement accounts early: the ins and outs |
Behavior Gap: It’s About How Much You Spend |
fi360: Follow up Q&A from our DOL rule webinars: Plan Sponsor Responsibilities |
Scholarly Financial Planner: DOL Fiduciary Rule: What “Best Interests” Means, Impacts on Financial Services |
A New Way to Four01K: Rock Stars and Retirement Plan Professionals |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
Morningstar: How Retirees Should Assess Their Liquid Assets |
NASDAQ: Dos And Don’ts For Consolidating Your Retirement Accounts |
NAPA Net: What Would it Take To Make a Robo a Fiduciary? |
NAPA Net: Do Plan Sponsors Want to Retain Former Participant Accounts? |
NAPA Net: Next Wave of RFPs: Target Date Funds |
NAPA Net: Survey: Providers Still Sorting Through Fiduciary Reg Implications |
The Motley Fool: How to Plan for Retirement in Your 50s |
NAPA Net: Bad Recordkeeping (and High Fees) Costs Plan Fiduciary |
NAPA Net: 4 Things You Should Know About Social Media |
NAPA Net: The Retirement Cost Variable You May Be Overlooking |
The Motley Fool: How to Plan for Retirement in Your 60s |
Kiplinger: 5 Retirement Lessons I Learned From ‘The Golden Girls’ |
NAPA Net: Settlement Develops in Kodak Stock Drop Suit |
NAPA Net: The Future of Employee Engagement |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Lessons From Chevron Litigation |
NAPA Net: Clinton’s Tax Proposals Likely to Take a Bite Out of Retirement Savings |
NAPA Net: Connecticut House Approves State-Run Retirement Program |
NAPA Net: Big Shift to Passives, Institutional Shares Drives Average Fund Costs Lower |
NAPA Net: Most Clueless – or Worse – on Financial Product Costs |
NAPA Net: House Formally Disapproves Fiduciary Regulation |
NAPA Net: Will Fiduciary Reg Reduce Rollovers? |
NAPA Net: A Retirement ‘Buddy’ System? |
United States Department of Labor: US Labor Department, Invesco Trust in Atlanta reach settlement to compensate investors for undisclosed losses |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Only registered users can comment. Login is sponsored by…

Order Your 401k Fiduciary Solutions book today!

Vote in our Poll


The materials at this web site are maintained for the sole purpose of providing general information about fiduciary law, tax accounting and investments and do not under any circumstances constitute legal, accounting or investment advice. You should not act or refrain from acting based on these materials without first obtaining the advice of an appropriate professional. Please carefully read the terms and conditions for using this site. This website contains links to third-party websites. We are not responsible for, and make no representations or endorsements with respect to, third-party websites, or with respect to any information, products or services that may be provided by or through such websites.