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What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/4/16 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/4/16
November 07
00:01 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:
Did DOL Fiduciary Rule FAQ Just Fire Warning Shot at Target Date Fund/Index Fund Fees?” (, November 1, 2016) How much effort does it really take for ongoing monitoring of an index fund or a target date fund? And does that justify the fees advisers typically charge? And is this why the DOL inserted that reference in Q5 of the Fiduciary FAQ?

Compliance – Strangely Quiet Before Election Day:
Not much this week. Probably a lot more after the election.
DOL Issues More Hurricane Matthew Relief for Plan Sponsors,” (PLANADVISER, October 28, 2016) Both the IRS and the DOL have provided relief for anything ranging from hardships, loans, repayment submissions, and blackout notices.
Informational Copies of 2016 Form 5500 Released,” (PLANADVISER, November 1, 2016) Good informational article.

Fiduciary – Falling Back:
As the realization that “Fiduciary” is real, systems and processes are being reviewed and revised.
IPSs Are a Good Defensive Move,” (PLANADVISER, September/October 2016) An interesting perspective on fiduciary duty and the fiduciary duty.
Fiduciary Crunch Time,” (PLANADVISER, September/October 2016) Here’s how everyone is getting ready.
Fiduciary rule prompts 401k providers to halt innovation, focus on compliance,” (BenefitsPRO, October 2016) The title’s perhaps a bit too harsh for the content of the story. Essentially, the new Fiduciary Rule has recordkeepers to reconsider their casual role in offering advice without assuming the role of adviser. This will end up being in the best interests of the plan participants, as only those who have undertaken the necessary training will now offer “education.” After all, we don’t want to rely on a mere “reporter’s” word for something that matters so much (like one’s retirement comfort).
After The DOL Comes The SEC,” (Financial Advisor, November 2016) Alas, the SEC doesn’t quite see things as black and white as the DOL.
John Bogle: SEC Should ‘Step Up’ and Issue a Fiduciary Rule,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 1, 2016) It’s all about harmonizing the SEC to the DOL on the fiduciary issue.

Fees – The Tip of the Iceberg:
It looks like everyone wants to believe the DOL’s new Fiduciary Rule places a priority on fees. Given that it’s literally called the “Conflict-of-Interest” Rule, that makes sense.
DOL Gives Guidance To RIAs On Rollovers,” (Financial Advisor, October 31, 2016) It’s all about level fees.
What is clear from DOL’s fiduciary FAQs — and what requires more guidance,” (InvestmentNews, October 31, 2016) Again, it’s all about fees.
Is it reasonable to charge management fee for unmanaged fund?” (BenefitsPro, November 2, 2016) Advisers can justify traditional fees, but class-action attorneys can justify the inappropriateness of traditional fees as well.

Investments – Back to Basics:
Things go in cycles. So, too, apparently goes the popular press when it comes to investing. It feels good to talk and read about the old standbys. It gives us faith the world will go on.
How can I grow my retirement savings without too much risk?” (CNN, October 26, 2016) Here’s how the mainstream media “educates” the masses on investments. How many old ways of thinking can you find in this article? How many do you still practice?
Bill Priest, Active Investing Guru, Ready to Pounce on Passive’s Mistakes,” (ThinkAdvisor, October 28, 2016) Why? It’s all explained in this article: “3 Reasons to Outlaw Index Investing Right Now (and One Selfish Reason Not To) in 5 Acts,” (, May 12, 2010)
Even Math Teachers Are at a Loss to Understand Annuities,” (The New York Times, October 28, 2016) There you have it. And it’s no wonder few retirement savers want to wade into the annuity pool.
Advisers Raise Concern Over Low-Cost Digital Portfolios,” (PLANADVISER, November 2, 2016) There is risk in mediocrity, yes, but this is more than mere mediocrity. Read the article and discover how.
Top 10 fund families in 401k plans,” (BenefitsPRO, November 2, 2016) Just in case you’re interested in keeping up with the Joneses.
How To Make $500,000 Last Forever,” (Forbes, November 2, 2016) Surprise, there’s nary a mention of annuities in this article.
If you’re under 35, this is the ultimate all-value equity portfolio,” (MarketWatch, November 3, 2016) Here’s a article written on a throwback theme from the days when people used to actually look at specific stocks and investment styles.

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.
13 facts about 401k plans & pensions via Form 5500 data,” (BenefitsPRO, October 26, 2016)
Nearly half of young adults lack retirement savings, pension,” (USA Today, October 29, 2016)
Whose job is it to get 401k participants ready for retirement?” (BenefitsPRO, October 31, 2016)
Use of Certain 401k Plan Auto Features Declines,” (PLANSPONSOR, October 31, 2016)
Investors Prefer the Path of Least Resistance,” (PLANADVISER, October 31, 2016)
What happened with 401k Saving in the First Half of 2016?” (The 401(k) Specialist, October 31, 2016)
Are 401k Plan Sponsors Still Focused on Helping Participants Retire?” (PLANADVISER, October 31, 2016)
Employees risk a ragged retirement if counting on a traditional savings formula,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, November 1, 2016)
ESOP Fiduciaries Ordered to Restore Plan Losses,” (PLANADVISER, November 2, 2016)
Did you hire the right 401k investment adviser?” (Employee Benefit News, November 4, 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.
Should short-term employees open 401k accounts?” (BenefitsPRO, October 26, 2016)
Does It Pay To Return To Work To Boost Future Social Security Benefits?” (Forbes, October 27, 2016)
Scream queens’ 10 worst retirement fears,” (BenefitsPRO, October 28, 2016)
Six steps women can take to achieve retirement security,” (MarketWatch, October 28, 2016)
The Big Winners and Losers in America’s Social Security System,” (Wall Street Journal, October 28, 2016)
Three Ways To Bounce Back From A Retirement Buy-out,” (Forbes, October 31, 2016)
How to Prepare for Retirement’s Big Spending Surprise,” (MONEY, October 31, 2016)
Inflation Is Coming Back – What Does That Mean For You?” (Forbes, October 31, 2016)
How WEP can affect a person’s Social Security,” (USA Today, October 31, 2016)
10 ways to make the years before retirement count,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, November 1, 2016)
Ratcheting Up Retirement Spending,” (Forbes, November 1, 2016)
Navigating 5 critical retirement risks,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, November 1, 2016)
Here’s what happens when someone is forced to retire because they’re ‘old’,” (MarketWatch, November 2, 2016)
How health savings accounts can help you save for retirement.” (CNBC, November 2, 2016)
Should You Use Life Insurance to Fund Your Retirement?” (US News, November 2, 2016)|
Women and Retirement: How to Save Enough,” (Barron’s, November 3, 2016)
The Trick To A Bigger 401k,” (Forbes, November 3, 2016)
Three things to do with your money when turning 70,” (CNBC, November 3, 2016)
Do you really know what your retirement income will be?” (MarketWatch, November 3, 2016)
Special Needs Families Face Special Retirement Planning Challenges,” (MONEY, November 3, 2016)
What To Do If Your Employer Switches 401k Providers,” (Forbes, November 3, 2016)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Squared Away Blog: Housing Bust Still Plagues Pre-Retirees |
Behavior Gap: Treating Trust as an Asset |
fi360 Fiduciary Talk 39: What the Election Means for Advisors and the Fiduciary Standard |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #26 |
Nerd’s Eye View: Age Banding To Model The Decline In Retirement Spending |
The Retirement Plan Blog: The Best “Order” to Save for Retirement: Infographic |
Business of Benefits: A Potential Impact of the 403(b) University Lawsuits on 401(k) Self Directed Brokerage Accounts |
Squared Away Blog: Financial Distress is Set Early in Life |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Pointing to a zero revenue sharing world |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Thoughts on the DOL Fiduciary Rule Q&A |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
Kiplinger: 10 Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees 2016 |
NAPA Net: How Good Are Your Benefits? |
NAPA Net: Complying with the DOL Rule: What and by When |
NAPA Net: Workers Clueless on Benefit Value? |
Morningstar: In Praise of Auto-Pilot Investing |
The Motley Fool: The 5-Point Personal Finance Checklist for 60-Somethings |
NAPA Net: You Can Lead a Horse to Water… |
NAPA Net: BrightScope Scooped up by Strategic Insight |
NAPA Net: Cetera Will Keep Retirement Account Commissions |
NAPA Net: Bay State Finds RIAs ‘Unaware’ of Fiduciary Rule Impact |
Kiplinger: 3 Moves to Make in Your Retirement Accounts Before the Year Ends |
NAPA Net: Cambridge Keeps Commissions on Retirement Accounts |
NAPA Net: Using Public Policy to Create IRA Irony |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Nonspouse Beneficiaries and IRA Rollovers |
NAPA Net: What’s ‘Reasonable’ Compensation for IRAs? |
NAPA Net: HSA Inflows Outpace Spending |
NAPA Net: Bramlett: Goals, Not Risk, Should Drive DC Investment Allocations |
NAPA Net: Advance 2016 Form 5500 Released |
NASDAQ: What You Need to Know About 401k Loans |
NAPA Net: Merrill Lynch Makes Another Fiduciary Rule Move |
NAPA Net: Employers Have a Good Feeling About Wellness. Proof, Not So Much. | What Will A Lame Duck Congress Address Post-Election? And Other D.C. Updates… |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


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