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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/10/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/10/17
March 13
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:
The #1 Retirement Saving Goal for People in Their 30s and the Most Useful Strategy to Get There,” (, March 7, 2017) This is the decade in which retirement savers need to accelerate their savings efforts in order to take full advantage of the positive impact time has on the growth of that savings.

Compliance – More Pressure to Prevent ERISA Erosion:
What a difference a week makes. We went from a lone voice in the woods to at least three articles reiterating the singular talking point that the late Obama administration unilaterally stripped retirement plan protections from state-run retirement plans One wonders where these ideas come from.
Congress Must Restore Protections for State-run Retirement Plans,” (Morning Consult, March 7, 2017) Great minds think alike. See “Compliance – Are We Better Off With or Without ERISA? And What are the Implications?” (, February 28, 2017) and “State-run SNAFU: ‘If you like your retirement, you can keep your retirement’,” (BenefitsPRO, March 1, 2017).
Braindead Dems Strike 401k Fear: Opinion,” (The 401(k) Specialist, March 7, 2017) What? A second article on a similar topic? Could it be the start of a trend?
Joint Congressional Resolution Targets Public DC Plans for Private Sector,” (PLANADVISER, March 8, 2017) They’re teaming up now.

Fiduciary – Limbo of the Lost:
Now begins the time of mists, when no one can see what’s ahead. In a strange way, it’s as if a great weight has been lifted, as though our shackles have been released. We’re free, but we’re now also responsible.
Experts Still Expect Private Enforcement of Fiduciary Standard,” (PLANADVISER, March 3, 2017) As we’ve been saying all along, Rule or no Rule, once the cat is let out of the bag, it’s difficult to stuff it back in. The theory of fiduciary that the Rule was based on remains, even if the Rule itself is gone.
Is there any saving the fiduciary rule?” (Financial Planning, March 6, 2017) So nice to see the rest of the media catching up to where has been for months.
Comments Flood In on DOL Fiduciary Rule Delay,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 7, 2017) Interesting reading for regulatory voyeurs.
DOL Issues Temporary Enforcement Policy on Fiduciary Rule,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 10, 2017) “In case of an unlikely event of a water landing…”

Fees – To Fee or Not to Fee:
For all the talk about the “damage” fees can do to your retirement, has anyone considered the amount of damage that’s being down every day by “do-it-yourselfers” too cheap to pay an honest wage?
Fees can do serious damage to your retirement,” (Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2017) An overly simplistic view from a major metropolitan daily’s equivalent of a financial Ask Me Anything. Yes, high fees are bad, but what does “high” mean? Although the article suggests paying a fee for financial planning is good, it goes back to the classic “low cost” index funds as the preferred option. How soon we forget the first decade of the new millennium.

Investments – The Danger Zone:
When investment talk starts falling back on decades old marketing literature, you know we’re approaching the top of the bull.
Has Passive Management Had Its Day?” (Wealth Management, February 28, 2017) For those interested on a humorous take on the economics behind this article, see “3 Reasons to Outlaw Index Investing Right Now (and One Selfish Reason Not To) in 5 Acts,” (, May 12, 2010).
How to Determine Clients’ True Risk Tolerance,” (ThinkAdvisor, February 28, 2017) Getting closer to a better way at looking at “risk.”
How to Manage Your Target-Date Fund After Retirement,” (Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2017) Target Date Funds are the mass transportation of retirement investing. Once you retire, maybe you should think about driving yourself. It’s the only way to be sure you’ll get to where your going.
Taxonomy Of Retirement Income Bond Ladders,” (Forbes, March 7, 2017) Wade Pfau explains the two types of bond ladders. Good reading for those looking at this strategy.
The best way to get the retirement income you need,” (CNN, March 8, 2017) Oh, this is rich! The author correctly states placing assets assigned to specific retirement expenses cannot be placed in equities because these securities could go down just when the money is needed. Then – and you’re not going to believe this – the same author says such assets should be placed in “low-cost bond mutual funds” (i.e., equity securities that can go down just when the money is needed).
Why did my 401k earn 4% last year when the S&P was up 10%?” (CNN, March 9, 2017) There is a downside to using index funds and asset allocation. But you don’t hear much about that because it’s all about low fees, not smart investing.

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.
Workers Value Key Features of DC Plans,” (PLANADVISER, March 2, 2017)
How to Put the Brakes on 401k Ambulance Chasers,” (The 401(k) Specialist, March 2, 2017)
Familiar Arguments In New JP Morgan ERISA Challenge,” (PLANADVISER, March 3, 2017)
TDF Adoption Driven By Auto Enrollment,” (PLANADVISER, March 3, 2017)
Employees want access to DC plans,” (Employee Benefit News, March 6, 2017)
How to Benchmark Important 401k Plan Data Points,” (The 401(k) Specialist, March 7, 2017)
401k Plans Not Enough For Most Retirees: Survey,” (Financial Advisor, March 7, 2017)
Connecticut Aims To Strengthen 403(b) Provider Reporting,” (PLANADVISER, March 8, 2017)
Schwab employee 401k lawsuit taunts Chuck by using Vanguard as Exhibit A,” (RIABiz, March 8, 2017)
How cybersecurity threats are affecting retirement plans,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 9, 2017)
Auto-portability helps everybody, and hurts nobody,” (Employee Benefit News, March 10, 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.
3 Lifestyle Decisions to Make Before Retirement,” (US News, March 1, 2017)
How Much Should You Have Saved by 30?” (Barron’s, March 1, 2017)
Think You’re Set for Retirement? Don’t Get Too Comfortable,” (Bloomberg, March 3, 2017)
Why employees should not get too comfortable about retirement,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 6, 2017)
Retiring Baby Boomers Struggle with Debt, Credit Management,” (Financial Advisor, March 6, 2017)
The 4% Rule: What’s a Safe Withdrawal Rate in Retirement?” (Money, March 6, 2017)
Majority of Americans Vastly Underestimate Retirement Needs,” (PLANADVISER, March 6, 2017)
How to avoid penalties on Roth IRA distributions,” (MarketWatch, March 6, 2017)
5 Reasons Millennials Aren’t Saving for Retirement,” (US News, March 6, 2017)
How to improve your readiness for retirement,” (USA Today, March 7, 2017)
8 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About Retirement,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 7, 2017)
Best Ways to Invest a 401k Surplus,” (US News, March 7, 2017)
10 tips to boost retirement savings,” (BenefitsPRO, March 7, 2017)
Last-Minute IRA Contributions Before Filing Your Taxes,” (Yahoo, March 8, 2017)
Most Employers Interested in Pension Risk Transfer,” (PLANADVISER, March 8, 2017)
Is 30 the new 20?” (BenefitsPRO, March 8, 2017)
Super-Charged Retirement Will Break This Sacred Rule,” (Financial Advisor, March 8, 2017)
JP Morgan 401k Target of Third ERISA Challenge,” (PLANADVISER, March 9, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Scholarly Financial Planner: “Government Should Not Regulate FA’s Conduct by Imposing Fiduciary Duties” |
Pension Risk Matters: Can A Retirement Plan Have Too Much Risk Management? |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: Employee Benefits-Sixth Circuit Holds That A Transfer Of Funds From A DISC To Roth IRAs Is Not Taxable |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: You’re Paying for That |
Behavior Gap: We Sell Straight Lines, But We Need to Talk About Course Corrections |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #39 |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Don’t hire relatives as your plan providers |
Fi360 Fiduciary Talk 46: Fiduciary duties of elected officials |
Squared Away Blog: Get Dental Work Before You Retire |
Behavior Gap: How to Make New Information Part of the Financial Plan |
Pension Risk Matters: Are You Stressed Out? |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources: How To Manage Your 401k in Uncertain Times |
Kiplinger: Successfully Saving for Retirement is Only Half the Journey |
NAPA Net: Target Date Decisions and the Biggest Outcomes Bang for Your Buck |
NAPA Net: Is Compliance in FINRA’s Crosshairs? |
NAPA Net: Is the SEC Ramping up Rollover Scrutiny? |
Morningstar: Control Your Taxes in Retirement |
Kiplinger: What You Should Know About Making 403(b) Catch-Up Contributions |
The Motley Fool: How to Retire Happily on Less Than $1 Million |
NAPA Net: Senate Resolutions Rein in State-Run Plan Regs |
NAPA Net: Avoiding an ERISA ‘Fender Bender’ |
NAPA Net: Why Rollovers Happen – and Don’t |
NAPA Net: Post-Retirement Friendly Plan Designs |
The Motley Fool: IRA Taxes in 2017: What You Need to Know |
Kiplinger: Maximize Income From Dividends |
NAPA Net: Cards and Letters Rolling in on Fiduciary Delay Proposal |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Stock Options and Determining a 5-Percent Owner |
NAPA Net: Putnam Proprietary Fund Suit Moves Forward |
NAPA Net: What’s Your Retirement IQ? |
NAPA Net: JPMorgan Served with Third Participant Suit |
NAPA Net: The Emergence of the DC Robo-Advisor |
NAPA Net: 401k Fees Fall Further |
NAPA Net: Hearing Dates Set for DOL, SEC Nominees |
NAPA Net: Regulatory Harmony in Rollover Recommendations? |
NAPA Net: TIAA Ducks Fiduciary Claim in Excessive Fee Case |
NAPA Net: Passive Passion Pushes TDF Surge |
NAPA Net: 3 Common 401k Plan Errors |
The Motley Fool: How Safe Is Your IRA? |
Kiplinger: Leverage Your Small Business to Save for Retirement |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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