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What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/30/16 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/30/16
January 03
00:02 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:
401k Plan Sponsor and Fiduciary Top 10 All-Time Most Popular ‘Must-Read’ Articles,” (, December 27, 2016) Do you know the greatest ongoing concerns of 401k plan sponsors and fiduciaries, or do you only think you know?

Compliance – I’m From the Government and I’m…:
“…here to help”? Yeah, this has a great history of working out when it comes to retirement. If you are willing to buy that, then there’s a bridge in Brooklyn that might also interest you.
DOL Shifts to City-Sponsored Retirement Plans,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 21, 2016) At least until the new sheriff comes to town. This unvetted policy shift seems to have been hastily constructed not in the best interests of retirement savers, but in the best interests of politicians.
myRA Falls Far Short in First Year — Now What?” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 26, 2016) Face it, the myRA is the Edsel of the financial industry. There’s no denying it.
Why we need a new type of 401k,” (MarketWatch, December 27, 2016) Teresa Ghilarducci concedes a bit a ground by reframing her argument in terms of “401k” instead of “pension.” Still, she comes of short of “401k 2.0” (see the article of the same name “401k 2.0 – A Proposal,”, December 20, 2010) when she insists these personal retirement savings accounts remained pooled into a collective government fund instead of an IRA-like personal account.
6 things to know about state auto-IRA programs,” (Employee Benefit News, December 27, 2016) The most interesting of the points is the last one – that the new Trump administration is willing to let the auto-IRA programs fly unimpeded. This doesn’t sound consistent with his anti-regulation rhetoric, but, at this point, everything is speculation.
31% Cut in Social Security Benefits Needed by 2031: CBO,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 27, 2016) Yet another reason not to trust the government when it comes to your retirement.

Fiduciary – Fiduciary 101:
Where do you go when you want to learn about what it takes to be a fiduciary? Take a look here and see.
3 fiduciary questions 401k plan sponsors ask the most,” (BenefitsPRO, December 28, 2016) When you speak to financial professionals, they often lament how plan fiduciaries ignore the importance of fiduciary liability.
Understanding roles and responsibilities under ERISA 3(16),” (Employee Benefit News, December 29, 2016) Good basic review of the option.

Fees – Pulling the Carpet out…:
…from under you. That’s what is happening to mutual fund companies even as we speak. Those that have relied on selling their wares through third parties are finding out what it’s like to handle the sales themselves.
The Rise of Zero Revenue Share Funds,” (PLANADVISER, November/December 2016) This is to be expected. What will be interesting, though, is to see how mutual funds handle this evolution away from the standard conflict-of-interest business model to the business model that contains no conflicts-of-interest.

Investments – Investing for the Long-Term 101:
Yes, we know you know it, but others don’t. That’s why it needed repeating,… and repeating,… and repeating…
Cramer explains why bonds could be bad news for your retirement, (CNBC, December 27, 2016) Cramar merely repeats what all good investment advisers already know. Retirement is a long-term objective, and, like any other long-term objective, it requires a long-term investment. And stocks are always better for the long-term.

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.
‘Seeking Financial Help’ Top 401k Participant Resolution,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 22, 2016)
What are your 2017 plan sponsor priorities?” (BenefitsPRO, December 26, 2016)
Great News About 401k Plans to Close Out 2016,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 27, 2016)
EBSA Seeks Damages from Money Purchase Plan,” (PLANADVISER, December 27, 2016)
9 Best Practices for 401k Financial Wellness,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 27, 2016)
3 Wishes 401k Participants Want Advisors to Grant in 2017,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 27, 2016)
11 Priorities for 401k Plan Sponsors in 2017,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 27, 2016)
DB Plan Sponsors Need to Prepare for Lack of Funding Relief,” (PLANADVISER, December 28, 2016)
Market-return cash balance plans touted as retirement alternative,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, December 28, 2016)
Kitces: A better baseline for retirement planning,” (Financial Planning, December 30, 2016)
How millennials are redefining retirement,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, December 30, 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 savings moves that cut your tax bill,” (CNBC, December 22, 2016)
Is Early Retirement Great? For Some, It’s Hard Work to Have Fun,” (The New York Times, December 23, 2016)
Using Retirement Money to Pay for College,” (Wealth Management, December 26, 2016)
Four Ways To Avoid 401k Withdrawal Penalties,” (Forbes, December 27, 2016)
Don’t play chicken with this 50 percent tax penalty,” (CNBC, December 28, 2016)
The Big Lesson From 2016 for Your Retirement Planning,” (MONEY, December 28, 2016)
The top retirement fears and how to tackle them,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, December 28, 2016)
Social Security savviness still pays off,” (Financial Planning, December 30, 2016)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Ary Rosenbaum: A Plan Sponsor Should Never Assume Their Providers Are Doing A Great Job |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm: Communicating with Millennials on 401k Plans |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm: Don’t be passive-aggressive with employees |
Data “Points”: A Retirement Savings Santa Claus? |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #32 |
Scholarly Financial Planner: Expand Your Comfort Zone |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm: Some Broker-Dealers aren’t in a panic and there is one reason why |
Pension Risk Matters: Five Retirement Fiduciary Events That Made a Big Difference in 2016 |
The Chicago Financial Planner: My Top 10 Most Read Posts of 2016 |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm: Your Business Can Fall A Lot Quicker That It Rose |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm: Good Marketing Can’t Mask Poor Customer Service |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
The Motley Fool: 3 Smart 403(b) Moves You Can Make Right Now |
Kiplinger: 6 Things Married Couples Should Talk About When Planning for Retirement |
NAPA Net: Proprietary Funds Dominate Menus, Not Assets |
NAPA Net: Are Long-term Goals Shortsighted? |
NAPA Net: What Might ‘Un-levelize’ Level-fee Fiduciaries? |
The Motley Fool: Over 90% of Americans Make This 401k Mistake |
NAPA Net: New Law ‘Cures’ Issues for Small Biz HRAs |
NAPA Net: As the Calendar Turns, Whither the Fiduciary Rule? |
NAPA Net: Study Finds Drop in 401k Fees |
NAPA Net: What ‘Level-fee Fiduciary’ Means for Rollover Advice |
Kiplinger: 3 (Very) Last-Minute Financial To-Dos for Retirees |
The Motley Fool: Sorry, Baby Boomers: You’re Never Going to Retire |
NAPA Net: Which Recordkeeper Types Dominate Various Market Segments? |
NAPA Net: Labor Department Restates Fiduciary Voting, ESG Considerations |
NAPA Net: A Failure to Communicate? |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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