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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/16/16 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/16/16
December 19
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:
These Five Developments Dramatically Changed the Retirement Fiduciary World in 2016” (, December 13, 2016) In a year that was marked with uncertainty, the biggest development of 2016 might be that it just didn’t matter.

Compliance – Year End Preparations:
It’s that time of year…
IRS Publishes List of Required Plan Amendments,” (PLANADVISER, December 14, 2016) Probably something you’re going to want to read.

Fiduciary – Forget the Rule, Focus on the Robo:
What does it mean to give advice? One definition says it is “an opinion offered to guide.” Another definition says its “typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative.” Can a machine have an opinion? Can a machine possess knowledge? Is a machine ever authoritative? A machine is nothing more than a tool. Even automated tools must be supervised by competent humans. Don’t confuse “robo” with “advice.”
Chamber’s CEO: ‘Already Working’ With Trump to Kill DOL Fiduciary Rule,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 12, 2016) As we’ve told you repeatedly, killing the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule is not a stated priority for Trump, but it is a priority for others. As such, it’s bound to become a key element any some future negotiation.
Take 5: Knut Rostad on the DOL fiduciary rule, advisory fees, and his hope for a debate with Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci,” (InvestmentNews, December 12, 2016) Pay attention to what he says about robo-“advisors” – it’s a very good point that hasn’t been made before.
The presidential election changed everything this year,” (BenefitsPRO, December 14, 2016) Just when you thought it was safe to assume a Fiduciary Rule, in comes a new Trump administration.
DOL Fiduciary Rule’s Fate: 3 Possible Scenarios,” (InvestmentNews, December 14, 2106) Fred Reish speculates.
Members of Donald Trump’s DOL landing team oppose fiduciary rule,” (InvestmentNews, December 14, 2016) Of all the excellent reasons – and there are some – to cite for opposing the Rule, these folks are relying reasons that are easily shot down. Sounds like they need to be given a chance to go through the gauntlet a couple of times before they are forced to commit one way or another.

Fees – Waiting for Santa:
Like children fast asleep on Christmas Eve, the talk on fees this week is as quiet as a valley blanketed by new fallen snow.

Investments – Opportunities and Risks:
In the end, isn’t this what investing is all about: taking advantage of opportunities and mitigating risk? When folks realize it all comes down to this, they’ll find they’ll become less worried about such nonsense as “volatility” and “asset allocation.”
An investment that’s a safer bet than Social Security,” (CNN, December 8, 2016) What do you trust more: Social Security or I Bonds – that’s the gist of this article.
As markets soar, it may be time to rebalance your portfolio,” (CNBC, December 8, 2016) Because selling winners and buying losers is what makes the pros so good.
2 (Potential) Problems With 401k Target-Date Funds,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 10, 2016) According to a Harvard professor, that is. Apparently, he doesn’t like the emphasis on US stocks and the lack of commodities. Sounds like he’s drank too much of that Modern Portfolio Kool-Aid.
Should you put some of your retirement savings into an annuity?” (CNN, December 14, 2016) This article actually follows a sound approach of matching needs with investments instead of placing investments first.
Here’s why you missed this year’s stock market bonanza,” (MarketWatch, December 15, 2016) Ouch! So much for the virtues of asset allocation. No really, but, that’s what the article makes it sound like.

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.
Retirement Plan Participation Rates Vary By Pay, Data Says,” (Financial Advisor, December 9, 2016)
Younger Generations Start Saving For Retirement Earlier,” (Wealth Management, December 12, 2016)
DC Industry Snapshot Reveals Uneven Plan Distribution,” (PLANADVISER, December 12, 2016)
Workers want 401k plans, but aren’t happy with them,” (BenefitsPRO, December 12, 2016)
DOL Secures Settlement Over Improper Asset Liquidation,” (PLANADVISER, December 12, 2016)
5 Tips For Providing 401k Plan Sponsors With Added Value,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 13, 2016)
Waiting in line at the DMV less painful than retirement planning,” (BenefitsPRO, December 13, 2016)
Americans Unlikely To Save More for Retirement in 2017,” (PLANADVISER, December 13, 2016)
Keeping Plan Sponsors on the Right Side of the Education Versus Advice,” (Wealth Management, December 13, 2016)
A Maddening 401k Financial Wellness Paradox,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 13, 2016)
4 important questions about HSAs under the new fiduciary rule,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, December 16, 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.
3 smart money moves to make in December,” (CNN, December 8, 2016)
A primer on Social Security spousal benefits,” (USA Today, December 9, 2016)
Americans ‘Terrified’ of This Retirement Issue,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 9, 2016)
How To Retire Abroad, And Where To Go,” (Forbes, December 10, 2016)
Just One in Five Participants Reviewed Accounts in 2016,’ (PLANADVISER, December 12, 2016)
9 Reasons Retirement May Go Extinct,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 12, 2016)
A Retirement Plan With Less Golf but More Satisfaction,” (The New York Times, December 12, 2016)
Americans More Confident in Their Finances,” (PLANADVISER, December 12, 2016)
Stress may be widening the U.S. longevity gap,” (BenefitsPRO, December 13, 2016)
4 Things Millennials Should Know About Mutual Funds and Retirement,” (US News, December 13, 2016)
What Does Spending Look Like In Poor, Great, And Average Retirement Conditions?” (Forbes, December 13, 2016)
How to live out your childhood dreams during retirement,” (MarketWatch, December 14, 2016)
Debunking 3 common misconceptions about baby boomers & retirement,” (BenefitsPRO, December 14, 2016)
This Year-End IRA Mistake Could Cost You Big Bucks,” (MONEY, December 14, 2016)
5 things to do 5 years before retiring,” (USA Today, December 14, 2016)
K-12 403(b) Model Needs a Mix of Old and New,” (PLANADVISER, December 15, 2016)
How Did 401k Participants React to the Presidential Election?” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 15, 2106)
DOL, IRS Plan Audits Becoming More Frequent and Thorny,” (PLANADVISER, December 15, 2016)
Dear Millennials: One Geezer’s Guide to Achieving Financial Success,” (MONEY, December 15, 2016)
Study: Only 10% Of Americans Take This Simple, Critical Step Toward Retirement,” (Forbes, December 16, 2016)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Bundled providers going unbundled makes sense |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Plan Design Features That Crimp Retirement Savings |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Dear Plan Sponsors, it’s about Reasonableness |
Data “Points”: Things That the ‘Common Wisdom’ About Millennials Gets Wrong |
Data “Points”: 5 Things the DOL Wants You to Know About TDFs – That You May Have Overlooked |
Squared Away Blog: Retirement Isn’t Always Fair |
Behavior Gap: Retiring the Idea of Retirement |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: Second Circuit Affirms District Court Dismissal Of Breach Of Fiduciary Claim, Based On Failure To Advise The Pension Fund To Stop Being A Madoff Customer, Due To A Lack Of Standing |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #30 |
Ary Rosenbaum: How A Plan Sponsor Can Increase 401k Participation Without Costing Much $$$ |
Data “Points”: 6 Stocking Stuffers for Retirement Participants |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
Kiplinger: A Do-It-Yourself Replacement for Indexed Annuities |
NAPA Net: Judge Says Stable Value Settlement Falls Short |
NAPA Net: Compliance, Fee Compression of Greatest Concern to Advisors |
NAPA Net: A Tax Reform Proposal That Doesn’t Target Retirement Plans |
The Motley Fool: The 3 Big Questions: How to Tell if You’re Ready to Retire |
Kiplinger: Protect Your Nest Egg From a Volatile Market |
NAPA Net: GOP Ready for Tax Reform Via Budget Reconciliation |
NAPA Net: 6 Stocking Stuffers for Retirement Participants |
NAPA Net: Reish: What Does Recommending a Rollover Require? |
NAPA Net: Fitch: DOL #Fiduciary Rule Effects… Will Vary |
The Motley Fool: 5 Ways to Pay No Income Tax During Retirement |
Kiplinger: Most-Overlooked Tax Breaks for the Newly Retired |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Aggregating RMDs |
NAPA Net: Election Turmoil Heats Up Participant Trading |
NAPA Net: Wait in Line at the DMV or Research Retirement Plans? |
Kiplinger: Social Security: Delay or Hit Go? |
NAPA Net: A (Short) Tale of Two Class Actions |
NAPA Net: More or Less DC Advisors in the Future? |
NAPA Net: The Gender Gap in Retirement Advice |
NAPA Net: Take Advantage of These 6 ‘Low-Hanging’ Opportunities |
NAPA Net: DC Appeals Court Responds to NAFA’s Fiduciary Rule Injunction Request |
NAPA Net: 3 Myths About RIA Pricing and Fees |
Kiplinger: Alternative Investments for Your Portfolio | Sam Johnson takes on Social Security Reform |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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