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 1/13/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 1/13/17
January 17
00:03 2017

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:
Why aren’t 401k Plan Sponsors and Participants Asking These Questions?” (, January 10, 2017) Remember, it’s not what you know that’s important, it’s knowing that you don’t know what’s important that’s important.

Compliance – Here We Go Again:
Isn’t it a little early of Groundhog Day. As in GroundHog Day, the movie starring Bill Murray
Businesses Not Keen on State-Run Retirement Plans,” (PLANADVISER, January 11, 2017) Can you say “MyRA”?

Fiduciary – Night Going Quietly Into The Night:
Some say the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule is a goner. Don’t tell Phyllis Borzi that.
DOL Fiduciary Rule Could Be Halted ‘Within Days’ of Inauguration,” (ThinkAdvisor, January 11, 2017) Or not. What does Vegas say on it?
DOL Releases Fiduciary Rule FAQ for Investors, Workers,” (ThinkAdvisor, January 13, 2017) The DOL attempts to dispel some myths about the Rule, but is there anyone listening? Knut Rostad is. In an email on the subject received from the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, Rostad says,  “This is an excellent first cut at boiling 1000 pages of rule language to 16 pages. It describes what it means to be a retirement adviser and where the industry just got it completely wrong again and again. It’s a great basis for advisors to use to go the next step and get the most key points for investors in Just two or three pages.”
DOL encourages investors to ask advisers if they are fiduciaries,” (InvestmentNews, January 13, 2017) More goodies from the DOL.

Fees – Slow Start to the New Year:

Investments – Taking Aim at Target Date Funds:
…and annuities. It seems like, sooner or later, the sizzle doesn’t sell. Said another way, you can stop digging because there’s no pony under there.
Should DC Plans Include Private Equity in TDFs?” (PLANADVISER, January 6, 2017) In other words, there are growing concerns about finding publicly traded stocks with reasonable return expectations. Don’t know about the track record of these predictions, but, in the older days, such speculative reach was usually considered a bearish sign.
Why Investors Should Look Beyond Target-Date Funds for 401ks,” (Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2017) Because, as the article states, they’re not “one-size-fits-all.”
Market Growth Expectations Continue to Drop Long-Term,” (PLANADVISER, January 9, 2017) In other words, there are growing expectations active investing should offer better returns than index investing. Don’t know about the track record of these predictions, but, in the older days, such pessimism was usually considered a bullish sign.
Should I invest $1 million of my retirement savings in an annuity?” (CNN, January 11, 2017) There are alternatives, and this article explains them.
Unconventional Assets in DC Plans Remain Poorly Understood,” (PLANADVISER, January 11, 2017) If that doesn’t sound like a fiduciary disaster waiting to happen…
7 Tips for Finding the Best Target-Date Retirement Funds to Buy,” (US News, January 12, 2017) More advice from the media. It sets an interesting baseline.

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.
JC Penney Agrees to $4.5 Million Stock Suit Settlement,” (PLANADVISER, January 10, 2017)
Socrates was right: You don’t know what you don’t know, especially about retirement plans,” (BenefitsPRO, January 11, 2017)
Retirement Savings Models Simplify a Complex Picture,” (PLANADVISER, January 11, 2017)
Small Companies Have A Big Retirement Problem,” (Financial Advisor, January 11, 2017)
Study Finds DC Plan Advisers and Sponsors Have Different Focus,” (PLANADVISER, January 12, 2017)
How to best educate employees on 401k plans, financial wellness,” (Employee Benefit News, January 12, 2017)

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.
The Big Problem With 401k Plans We Refuse to Solve,” (Retirement Plan Advisor, January 4, 2017)
Fabulous News For Retirement Savers,” (Financial Advisor, January 6, 2017)
Millennials may need to double how much they save for retirement,” (The Washington Post, January 9, 2017)
DC Participants Place Different Values on Mobile and Web Abilities,” (PLANADVISER, January 10, 2017)
Protect Your Retirement Account from Tweeter-in-Chief Trump,” (Fox Business, January 10, 2017)
How long do U.S. retirees live compared to peers in other countries?” (CBS News, January 10, 2017)
Recent Retirees Still See Room for Optimism,” (PLANADVISER, January 10, 2017)
We Don’t Have to Be Broke in Retirement,” (Bloomberg, January 11, 2017)
Generation X Faces Real Retirement Hurdles,” (PLANADVISER, January 11, 2017)
Small Companies Have a Big Retirement Problem,” (Bloomberg, January 11, 2017)
What Warren Buffett’s breakfast can teach us about retirement saving,” (MarketWatch, January 12, 2017)
How plan sponsors can debunk two common retirement savings myths,” (Employee Benefit News, January 13, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Pension Risk Matters: Effective Retirement Plan Communications |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: D.C. Circuit Upholds Dismissal Of Stock Drop Case Based On Breach Of Fiduciary Duty |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Clients criticize; get over it |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Setting the tone |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Plan Sponsors Sued Over Fees on Multiple Plans and Vendors |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Fiduciary Rule will clear out the Alphabet Soup of Share Classes |
Nerd’s Eye View: Squaring-The-Survival-Curve And Retirement Planning |
Behavior Gap: In Praise of Luck |
Pension Risk Matters: Pension Risk Management for Retirement Plans |
Nerd’s Eye View: The 4 Different Types Of Fiduciary Financial Advisors |
RetirementRevised: Younger Americans embrace value of unbiased financial advice |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #33 |
fi360: Fiduciary Talk 43: Titles used by advisers can trigger fiduciary status |
Ary Rosenbaum: As A 401k Sponsor, A Class Action Lawsuit Is The Least Of Your Legal Worries |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: DOL Issues New FAQs On Conflict Of Interest Rules |
Data “Points”: Lamenters of the 401k Revolution |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
The Motley Fool: The Biggest Social Security Change in 2017 That’s Not Being Advertised |
NAPA Net: Ways & Means Looking at Retirement ‘Reforms’? |
NAPA Net: What Does it Cost to Provide DC Benefits? |
ICI: For “401k Pioneers,” No Reason for Regrets |
NAPA Net: NASDAQ: 7 Hidden Fees to Watch Out for in Retirement |
NAPA Net: Rare Settlement in Stock Drop Case |
NAPA Net: Things, Remembered |
NAPA Net: Plan Sponsor Fee Focus Fuels Future Searches |
NAPA Net: Court Orders Fiduciary to Turn Over Cars in Settlement |
Morningstar: Benz: What To Do With Unneeded RMDs |
Kiplinger: Why Retirees Aren’t Enjoying Their Wealth |
NAPA Net: Labor Secretary Confirmation Delayed? |
NAPA Net: Dear Plan Sponsor… |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Deferral Limits Involving SIMPLE IRAs and 401k Plans |
NAPA Net: Employers Ready to Ramp up Financial Wellness Tools |
The Motley Fool: Inherited IRAs: What You Need to Know |
Kiplinger: 3 Financial Risks That Retirees Underestimate |
NAPA Net: Top 10 Employee Benefits New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 |
NAPA Net: A Remedy for Stress? |
NAPA Net: 2017: MEPs, State Plans, Financial Education Loom Large |
NAPA Net: SEC to Sharpen Focus on Robos, Share Class Selection, ETFs |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

Related Articles

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


  1. Ben Barker
    Ben Barker January 17, 12:30

    Here’s to hoping that the new DOL Fiduciary rule doesn’t get stalled or completely stomped out. Looking out for the consumer is, and should be the main goal for the DOL. Finger’s crossed.

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.