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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/24/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/24/17
March 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 David Huntley and Joseph Valletta: Plan Sponsors Need Template to Identify Fees,” (, March 21, 2017) “Benchmarking your plan’s fees is important step to carrying out your fiduciary responsibilities.”

Compliance – Can’t We Do Anything Right?:
Looks likes the state and federal governments are to muck up the works. What was that thing Thomas Jefferson said about “a little rebellion now and then is a good thing”?
401k Funeral at NAPA Summit?” (The 401(k) Specialist, March 19, 2017) We’ll see.
Even San Francisco, flush with tech wealth, has pension problems,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 20, 2017) What do you expect? It’s a pension.
Senate Should Rein In States’ Retirement Plans,” (Bloomberg, March 22, 2017) This is a well-reasoned article that explains all the ins and out of this political issue.

Fiduciary – The New Battlefield:
We told it was coming. And now it is here. Fiduciary Rule? We don’t need no stinkin’ Fiduciary Rule!
Advisor or Adviser? It’s More Than Semantics,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 22, 2017) Once again, Bob Clark brings up a very valid point.
Fiduciary advocates push alternative approach to DOL rule,” (On Wall Street, March 23, 2017) The battle shifts from the regulatory arena to the playing fields of the marketplace.

Fees – What if 12b-1 Fees et al Never Existed?:
In a world where conflict-of-interest fees are part of everyday living, it’s hard to imagine how much would change if they were simply eliminated. Hard, but not impossible. And definitely preferable.
Clean Shares Could Shake Up Investment, Advice Industries,” (Financial Advisor, March 2017) So one mutual fund company just filed with the SEC to create an “F3” share class, meaning no commissions, no 12b-1, and no revenue sharing. What about all those other mutual fund companies that never had commissions, 12b-1 fees, or revenue sharing? They never needed to create a separate class for that. How do they get credit for having “clean” shares all along? Here’s the thing: These clean shares don’t even pay a shelf (a.k.a. “platform”) fee to custodians for holding the fund. Does this mean the idea of an “NTF” platform is on its way out?
401k Fee Fight Moves Forward Despite Fiduciary Delay,” (The 401(k) Specialist, March 17, 2017) This is about the movement from commission-based to fee-based models.
Investors Unwilling To Pay For Fiduciary Advice, But 65 Percent Want It,” (Financial Advisor, March 20, 2017) Doesn’t everyone want something for nothing?
The DOL’s mutual fund fee disclosure rule, pre-revolutionary France, and the Industrial Revolution,” (BenefitsPRO, March 22, 2017) How much did the DOL mess up by not providing a template with its 2012 Mutual fund Fee Disclosure Rule? And What do you suggest be done about it?

Investments – Questions You’re Afraid to Ask:
Maybe because they’re too obvious, maybe because you just don’t want to know the answer.
Kitces: The risks of simplifying risk,” (Financial Planning, March 19, 2017) Yet another slam against those risk tolerance questionnaires.
Is It Prudent for Investors to Use Target-Date Funds for Retirement Savings?” (Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2017) Here’s a pro and con article. Which said do you agree with?
Why it Might be Time to Chill on Collective Investment Trusts,” (The 401(k) Specialist, March 20, 2017) Here’s some of the truth all the enthusiasm seems to be overlooking.
Should 401k Plans Only Offer Index Funds?” (The 401(k) Specialist, March 21, 2017) The author concludes plans need both active and passive options.
Growth Or Value? Which Way To Lean?” (Wealth Management, March 23, 2017) Here’s the kind of style box analysis we haven’t seen in years. Too bad the data is only from one market cycle.
Bulk of Target-Date Funds in Retirement Accounts,” (PLANSPONSOR, March 23, 2017) Does this surprise anyone?
Equity Funds Most Common Type of Fund Held in 401k Plans,” (PLANADVISER, March 23, 2017) Again, does this surprise anyone?

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 to redesign plan employee contribution rates,” (Employee Benefit News, March 17, 2017)
Make sure workers meet their first RMD deadline,” (Employee Benefit News, March 17, 2017)
How employers can boost IRA understanding,” (Employee Benefit News, March 19, 2017)
SafeWay ERISA Lawsuits Advance in Federal Court,” (PLANADVISER, March 20, 2017)
What types of employers have the best 401k plans?” (BenefitsPRO, March 20, 2017)
Plan Quality Varies Significantly By Industry,” (PLANADVISER, March 20, 2017)
HSAs Over 401k Plans for Retirement Readiness?” (Wealth Management, March 20, 2017)
IRS Releases Reminders After Increase of Incorrect User Fees,” (PLANADVISER, March 20, 2017)
A simple list of retirement plan sponsor concerns,” (BenefitsPRO, March 21, 2017)
What Plan Sponsors Like About Advisors, And What They Don’t,” (Wealth Management, 21, 2017)
DB Plan Clients See Lump Sum Favorability Shift,” (PLANADVISER, March 21, 2017)
What plan sponsors want from advisors,” (BenefitsPRO, March 21, 2017)
How to redesign employee plan contribution rates,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 21, 2017)
401k Fear on the Rise with American Workers,” (The 401(k) Specialist, March 22, 2017)
Bank of America Prevails In ERISA Challenge After Bench Trial,” (PLANADVISER, March 22, 2017)
Why pension, 401k plans should have written policies,” (Employee Benefit News, March 22, 2017)
The 5 industries with the best 401k plans,” (BenefitsPRO, March 22, 2017)
How skillful RMD planning can sustain retirement portfolios,” (Financial Planning, March 23, 2017)
View from the 401k trenches: 3 plan sponsors on trends, financial literacy,” (BenefitsPRO, March 23, 2017)
Plan sponsors looking for benefits guidance from advisers,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 23, 2017)
Making IRA Season Less Confusing And Taxing,” (Financial Advisor, March 23, 2017)
Helping employees reach their retirement goals,” (Employee Benefit News, March 24, 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.
DB Plan Providers Not Shying Away From Enhancing Platforms,” (PLANADVISER, March 17, 2017)
For retirees, the penalty for missing this April 1 deadline is 50 percent,” (CNBC, March17, 2017)
12 Reasons To Contribute To A Roth IRA By April 18,” (Forbes, March 19, 2017)
Why You Shouldn’t Stick With Your 401k Plan’s Default Settings,” (US News, March 20, 2017)
The mistake that will upend your retirement security,” (CNBC, March 20, 2017)
Two in five Americans say they’ll need $1 million to retire,” (Employee Benefit News,” March 21, 2017)
Comfort With Retirement Savings Does Not Match Reality,” (PLANADVISER, March 21, 2017)
1 in 4 workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement,” (CNN, March 21, 2017)
The new retirement is … not to retire,” (CNBC, March 21, 2017)
Minorities are making effort to close retirement savings gap, (USA Today, March 21, 2017)
Health Expenses and Debt Are Concerns for Planning for Retirement,” (PLANADVISER, March 21, 2017)
The four most depressing reasons why Americans are not saving any money,” (MarketWatch, March 22, 2017)
Planning on delaying retirement? EBRI’s survey shows many won’t have the option,” (BenefitsPRO, March 22, 2017)
‘Gig’ workers falling behind on retirement savings,” (CNBC, March 22, 2017)
Majority of Investors Feel Confident About Retirement,” (PLANADVISER, March 23, 2017)
Americans are more confident in their savings for the first time in six years,” (MarketWatch, March 23, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
ERISA Lawyer Blog: Sixth Circuit Rules That Plaintiffs Need Not Exhaust A Plan’s Administrative Procedures Prior To Filing Suit In Federal Court, When They Assert Statutory Violations Of ERISA |
Squared Away Blog: Students Get Curious About Retiring |
Nerd’s Eye View: The Four Pillars For Retirement Income Portfolios |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #41 |
RetirementRevised: Life insurance in retirement: Who needs it? |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: The RFP Process has to be real |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: DOL Announces Temporary Enforcement Policy For New Definition Of Fiduciary And Related New Prohibited Transaction Exemptions |
Squared Away Blog: The Benefits of Late-career Job Changes |
Proskauer: No Emergency Injunction Appeal in Chamber’s Challenge to DOL Rule |
Pension Risk Matters: Pension Blog Turns 11 On Same Day As National Fiduciary Day |
Ary Rosenbaum: The Small Stuff That Plan Sponsors Should Sweat Out |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Graff: ‘There Is a Way to Fix This’ |
PR NewsWire: Smallest Companies Have Highest-Performing 401k Plans, ALM Intelligence Study Finds |
NAPA Net: Firms ‘Putting Their Pencils Down’ on Fiduciary Rule |
NAPA Net: What Do Plan Sponsors Really Want From Their Advisors? |
NAPA Net: Best Practices: How to ‘Morph’ and Guide a Plan Committee |
NAPA Net: Who Cares About the Fiduciary Rule? |
NAPA Net: How Can Advisors Keep Plan Sponsors Happy? |
NAPA Net: Advisors ‘Instant-Polled’ on Fees and Services |
NAPA Net: Acosta, Warren Wrangle on Fiduciary Rule |
NAPA Net: Morningstar: Fiduciary Rule Litigation Costs Overlooked |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Education Policy Statements |
NAPA Net: Court Won’t Stop the Fiduciary Rule |
Kiplinger: Retirees, Cut Your Taxes With These Moves |
NAPA Net: Legislation to Help Small Business Retirement Plans Introduced |
NAPA Net: The Retirement Plan Advantage |
NAPA Net: Whose Plans Are ‘Better’ – CPAs’ or Advisors’? |
Kiplinger: RMD Tips: When Your IRA Holds an Annuity |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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