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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 2/24/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 2/24/17
February 27
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:
Exclusive Interview with Ted Benna: Quits Supporting Fiduciary Rule, says ‘Not Sufficient’,” (, February 22, 2017) Ted Benna says ERISA/PBGC – not the 401k – killed pension plans and that pensions no longer make sense given our current job-hopping demographics. He also says a lot more in this must read interview.

Compliance – Looking Worse for State-Run Plans:
Admit it, didn’t you think this whole idea was worse than a mere Edsel when it first came out? (BTW, the consensus has already bestowed the “Edsel” award for retirement plans to the ill-fated MyRA.) From the beginning, state-run retirement plans for private employees was just another money grab. Now that folks see the emperor has no clothes, it’s doubtful any serious retirement saver will ever voluntarily choose to risk his retirement on a state-run plan. Note the word “voluntary.”
Passage of Resolutions Creates Uncertainty for State-Run Plans,” (PLANADVISER, February 17, 2017) The House votes to extent ERISA protection to private employees who are forced to use a state-sponsored retirement plan to save for retirement.
State retirement plans may lose funding before starting,” (Employee Benefit News, February 20, 2017) Not sure the article really explains what funding is lost, but, whatever…
Will your pension be there when you need it?” (The Washington Post, February 20, 2017) Was it ever? (See the Ted Benna article under “Lead Story” above.)

Fiduciary – Big Mo’ Reins But What Fills Void?:
There’s no stopping the momentum behind the fiduciary standard. The same cannot be said about stopping the Fiduciary Rule. Without the Rule as a gathering point, we’ll soon have a void – an inevitable movement without its torch light. What will fill that void?
A Really Awful Understanding of the 401k Fiduciary Rule,” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 20, 2017) The author points out two problems: First, many falsely assume “best interest” means lower fees (this is inconsistent with the DOL’s statements regarding the 2012 Mutual Fund Fee Disclosure Rule. Second, enforcement is through the tort bar, not the DOL. That’s a wild card no one wants to bet on.
OMB Looks Ready to OK Delay of Fiduciary Rule,” (ThinkAdvisor, February 21, 2017) Yeah, this shouldn’t surprise anyone.
DOL Fiduciary Defenses Prevail In District Courts, But Does It Matter?” (PLANADVISER, February 21, 2017) Oddly enough, these judicial rulings may make it more difficult to fight the DOL on unilaterally determined matters pertaining to “fiduciary,” including rescinding the Rule.
Do Robo-Advisors Meet Fiduciary Standards?” (Financial Advisor, February 22, 2017) The answer is no, but the more important question is “Why not?”
Fiduciary Duty Can’t Be Killed,” (Wealth Management, February 22, 2017) Isn’t this what we’ve been saying all along?

Fees – No Fees Week:
Since we all know our 401k plans are free.

Investments – “Income Infatuation” – A Deadly Sin of Retirement Planners:
Just ask any endowment manager. Income requirements went out in the 1960s. Why do individuals still talk about them? It’s a very expensive investment strategy.
A TDF With Income in Mind,” (PLANADVISER, January/February 2017) Not sure about relying on mutual funds for income is a good idea.
Are REITs Right for Your Retirement Portfolio?” (US News, February 21, 2017) As you might expect, it all depends and specific circumstances. That’s the general rule for all things investing. The only right answer is that there is no silver bullet.

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.
How Are 401k Participants Reacting to Washington Craziness?” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 15, 2017)
T. Rowe Price Accused of Self-Dealing in 401k,” (PLANADVISER, February 17, 2017)
It’s time to rethink DB retirement plans,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, February 17, 2017)
New York Life to Pay $3M in 401k Suit,” (ThinkAdvisor, February 17, 2017)
Participants and HR will love the MEP 401k,” (BenefitsPRO, February 20, 2017)
Two-Thirds Of Americans Aren’t Putting Money In Their 401k,” (Financial Advisor, February 21, 2017)
Kitces: How Social Security retirement age rules impact clients,” (Financial Planning, February 21, 2017)
Millennials, boomers differ on unions’ role for retirement,” (BenefitsPRO, February 21, 2017)
Ted Benna’s truth: Can you handle it?” (BenefitsPRO, February 21, 2017)
Oracle Fails to Get 401k Excessive Fee Suit Dismissed,” (PLANADVISER, February 22, 2017)
Retirement Readiness Analysis Includes Multiple Factors,” (PLANADVISER, February 22, 2017)
30 Best Large 401k Plans in 2016: BrightScope,” (ThinkAdvisor, February 23, 2017)
Addressing Longevity a Crucial Issue for DC Plan Sponsors,” (PLANADVISER, February 23, 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.
Tax Trick: Do-Over for Roth IRA Conversion,” (Money, February 16, 2017)
8 things you need to know when opening up a 401k,” (USA Today, February 16, 2017)
Why you should think like a team when saving for your retirement,” (MarketWatch, February 16, 2017)
7 retirement tips for women,” (BenefitsPRO, February 17, 2017)
Retirement Is ‘Life’s Most Expensive Purchase’,” (ThinkAdvisor, February 17, 2017)
What’s the right 401k contribution rate?” (Employee Benefit Adviser, February 17, 2017)
4 Ways To Spot 401k Rip-Offs,” (Forbes, February 20, 2017)
Q&A: What’s best way to convert big IRA fund into a Roth?” (USA Today, February 20, 2017)
Geography Can Determine Retirement Costs,” (Financial Advisor, February 21, 2017)
Gen X, Baby Boomers Say Longevity Is Both a Blessing and a Curse,” (PLANADVISER, February 22, 2017)
Work less, make more – and survive to retirement,” (BenefitsPRO, Febraury 22, 2017)
You can make ‘course corrections’ on path to retirement, study says,” (BenefitsPRO, February 23, 2017)
As The Baby Boomers Retire, Many Don’t Get Financial Advice,” (Financial Advisor, February 23, 2017)
Who’s optimistic about retirement?” (BenefitsPRO, February 23, 2017)
The Psychology of Satisfaction With Retirement,” (PLANADVISER, February 23, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Ary Rosenbaum: It’s Time For 401k Plan Sponsors To Get A Grip |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Ask the TPA about their administrators’ training |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Why you have nothing to fear about government being in the retirement plan business |
RetirementRevised: Longevity risk: Making money last as long as you do |
Data “Points”: 6 Assumptions That Can Wreck a Retirement |
Squared Away Blog: A Bigger Bite Out of Social Security |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Read the plan document |
Nerd’s Eye View: Safe Withdrawal Rates With Decreasing Retirement Spending |
Nerd’s Eye View: How DOL Fiduciary Will End Most Mutual Fund Share Classes |
Proskauer: USDOL Prevails in Kansas in Another Decision on Fiduciary Rule |
Ary Rosenbaum: Why an Employer Should Sponsor A 401k Plan |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #37 |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
Morningstar: Retirement Saver’s Credit an Overlooked Tax Break |
NAPA Net: Another Win for the DOL |
NAPA Net: Is the Prudent Man Standard Good Enough? |
NAPA Net: Americans (Still) Clueless About Retirement – But Know They’re Not Doing Enough |
NAPA Net: Legislation Would Boost HSAs, FSAs |
NAPA Net: OMB Holds Meetings on Fiduciary Rule |
NAPA Net: Does Confidence Trump Literacy in Financial Wellness Engagement? |
NAPA Net: Proprietary Funds Draw Self-Dealing Allegations |
Kiplinger: 6 Tax Strategies to Keep More Money in Retirement |
NAPA Net: Supremes Let Lehman Stock Drop Decision Stand |
NAPA Net: Selling the 2nd Most Important Benefit |
NAPA Net: DOL’s Stay Request Rejected |
NAPA Net: Financial Services Firm Sues CFPB |
NAPA Net: SEC Updates Guidance on Robo-Advisers |
NAPA Net: What Would Americans Change About Their 401ks? |
NAPA Net: What Difference Does Location Make in Retirement Spending? |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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