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What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/3/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/3/17
March 06
00:05 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:
Compliance – Are We Better Off With or Without ERISA? And What are the Implications?” (, February 28, 2017) Thar’s gold in them thar retirement plans! Who could blame cash-starved states from trying to get a piece of that action? On the other hand, there’s plenty of blame when the regulatory arm created to protect employees places politics ahead of the best interests of retirement savers.

Compliance – State-Run Plans – DOA?:
Things continue to look worse for the idea of state-run retirement plans for private employees. It now appears they entire concept may have been nothing more than a political payback mechanism. More as the story develops.
State-run SNAFU: ‘If you like your retirement, you can keep your retirement’,” (BenefitsPRO, March 1, 2017) Is it fair that public employees don’t have ERISA protections?
Californians hit as bad debts lead to pension cuts,” (BenefitsPRO, March 1, 2017) Too bad they’re not protected by ERISA.
IRS Updates Reporting Disclosure Guide,” (PLANADVISER, March 17, 2017) As the article states (and provides a link to), this IRS guide should be used in conjunction with the DOL guide.

Fiduciary – And There’s a Time-Out on the Field:
Somehow this is beginning to look like a tortured cross between The Long Goodbye and Groundhog Day. Enough with the suspense, enough with the drama. Just get it over with so we can build a better Fiduciary Rule.
Merrill could pivot on fiduciary pledge,” (Financial Planning, February 27, 2017) Doing a live test of the “You can’t go home again” theory is pretty risky. How will Merrill Lynch compete against its own words?
DOL Proposes 60-Day Fiduciary Rule Delay,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 1, 2017) This is the news many expected.
DOL moves to delay fiduciary rule by 60 days,” (Financial Planning, March 1, 2017) Here’s a different take with a little bit more added flavor.
Fiduciary Rule Delay May Be Too Little, Too Late,” (Financial Advisor, March 1, 2017) Well, now, just hold your horses a second. Maybe we got a little bit too excited.
DOL Decision Means Return To ‘Limbo’ For Fiduciary Rule,” (Financial Advisor, March 1, 2017) A more complete answer to what the delay actually means.
Industry Weighs In on DOL Plan to Delay Fiduciary Rule,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 1, 2017) Lots of good quotes in this one.
Acting SEC Chair Names Priorities,” (Financial Planning, March 2, 2017) Check out page two. The Acting Chair is quoted as saying the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule was something out of a “left-wing” think tank that was never meant to protect investors but only meant to line the pockets of trial attorneys. Ouch.
Why Trump Advisor Scaramucci ‘Hates’ DOL Fiduciary Rule,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 2, 2017) Interesting idea. Scaramucci hates the Fiduciary Rule because, like many others, he feels it will drive everyone to index funds. We’re not sure we can agree with that, but his reasoning is sound as it pertains to what happens if everyone were to invest only in index funds.
Ron Rhoades: DOL Fiduciary Rule Is as Good as Dead (for Now),” (ThinkAdvisor, March 3, 2017) Definitely worth the read.

Fees – Mo’ No Fees Week:

Investments – In the End, It’s All Product, All the Time:
It’s tough to be an investment purist in an era of product domination. It’s no longer about slogging through reams of accounting reports in search for appropriate investments. Today, we are awash in products and sales incentives and “Investing? What’s that?”
Can Real Estate Exposure Enhance DC Plans?” (PLANADVISER, February 24, 2017) Good article that explains both the good and the bad of real estate investments.
CITs can provide ‘considerable savings’ for retirement plans,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, February 27, 2017) The difference in cost is the difference in regulatory mandates. Just sayin’.
Has Passive Management Had Its Day?” (Wealth Management, February 28, 2017) Yeah, not new. The article reprises the old idea that index fund investing, if it gets out of hand, will cripple the capital markets. Besides, says the offer, they’re not really “passive” anyway – someone got to pick which stocks make up the 500.
Basic Assumptions Have Changed for Institutional Investors,” (PLANADVISER, March 2, 2017) It seems like the fears of equities that beset investors as a result of the 2008/09 market crash have subsided. In a big way.
Harvard Academics Reveal Blueprint For Avoiding Stock Crashes,” (Financial Advisor, March 3, 2017) And another brick is removed from the wall of the Efficient Market Hypothesis.

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.
Households Value Choice in DC Plans,” (PLANADVISER, February 24, 2017)
Don’t Get Burned: Marcia Wagner’s Top 401k Regulatory Risks,” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 26, 2017)
Understanding roles and responsibilities under ERISA 3(16),” (Employee Benefit News, February 27, 2017)
How 401k Advisors Protect Themselves from Risk,” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 27, 2017)
How to fix common 401k mistakes,” (Employee Benefit News, February 27, 2017)
Fiduciary confusion: What is a 401k plan sponsor to do?” (Employee Benefit News, February 28, 2017)
401k plan participants taking fewer loans, withdrawals from their plans,” (Employee Benefit News, February 28, 2017)
3 ways to create a retirement-ready office culture,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 1, 2017)
19% of Households Are ‘Not Worried Enough’ About Retirement,” (ThinkAdviser, March 1, 2017)
American Century Self-Dealing Suit Permitted to Proceed,” (PLANADVISER, March 2, 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.
You’re Killing It With Your 401k,” (Wealth Management, February 3, 2017)
The Real Reason Big Savers Retire Early: Minimizing Retirement Savings Needs,” (Wealth Management, February 15, 2017)
2 retirement account tax breaks you may not know about,” (MarketWatch, February 22, 2017)
Don’t pass up free retirement money from Uncle Sam,” (CBS News, February 22, 2017)
Pre-retirees and retirees spending depends on where they live,” (Miami Herald, February 22, 2017)
Roth IRA Tips, Tricks and Twists,” (Wealth Management, February 23, 2017)
Turning 70 1/2? Prepare to tap into your retirement accounts,” (CNBC, February 23, 2017)
The 25x Rule To Early Retirement,” (Forbes, February 23, 2017)
Roth IRA Conversion Can Boost Tax on Social Security,” (Money, February 24, 2017)
Couples should team on retirement,” (BenefitsPRO, February 24, 2017)
3 smart money moves to make in your 40s,” (USA Today, February 24, 2017)
Boomers Still Struggling Post Recession,” (PLANADVISER, February 27, 2017)
Less Than Half of Savers Can State Their Net Worth,” (PLANADVISER, February 27, 2017)
Retirees should look carefully before leaping into a relocation,” (CNBC, February 28, 2017)
Many Households Have Wrong Perception of Retirement Preparedness,” (PLANADVISER, February 28, 2017)
Twelve Steps to Ease Clients into a Happier Retirement,” (Wealth Management, February 28, 2017)
Emergencies Should Top Retirement In Savings Goals, Consumer Group Says,” (Financial Advisor, March 1, 2017)
More Americans Live In Fear Of Retiring Poor,” (Financial Advisor, March 1, 2017)
Retirees Are Turning To The Millennial Sharing Economy To Save,” (Financial Advisor, March 1, 2017)
College loans are making it hard for parents to retire,” (Employee Benefit News, March 1, 2017)
A Mere 10% of Women Are Confident About Retirement,” (PLANADVISER, March 2, 2017)
Keep up to date on old retirement accounts,” (BenefitsPRO, March 2, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Scholarly Financial Planner: IRA Rollovers: Does Your Due Diligence Meet Regulatory Requirements? |
Data “Points”: Is the Prudent Man Standard Good Enough? |
RetirementRevised: Retirement planning for special needs families |
Squared Away Blog: In the Dark about Retirement? |
Behavior Gap: Reality-Based Financial Planning – An Introduction |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Revenue Sharing is Legal, so what? |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Litigation defending their 401(k) plan is the cost of doing business offering proprietary mutual funds |
The Chicago Financial Planner: Financial Fraud – Tips to Protect Yourself |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #38 |
Squared Away Blog: Retirement, Saving and Your Taxes |
Proskauer: U.S. DOL Proposes Delay of Conflict of Interest Rule and Related Exemptions |
Fred Reish: DOL Proposes Delay of Fiduciary Rule Applicability Date |
Scholarly Financial Planner: Mrs. Baxter’s ‘Financial Advisor’ – A Sad Tale of Deceit and Betrayal |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
The Motley Fool: What You’re Doing Wrong in Your IRA |
Kiplinger: Join a Nonprofit as an Encore Career |
NAPA Net: Schlichter Suit Moves Forward |
NAPA Net: IRS Publishes New Guidelines on Hardship Documentation |
NAPA Net: Obamacare Replacement Expands HSA Capabilities, Funding |
Kiplinger: The 2 Massive 401k Mistakes Business Owners Make |
NAPA Net: DOL Proposes 60-Day Extension in Fiduciary Rule Applicability |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: H-1B Workers |
NAPA Net: Who’s More Likely to Have a Managed Account? |
NAPA Net: What Would You Trade for Retirement Security? |
Kiplinger: How High Earners Can Set Up a Roth IRA |
The Motley Fool: 1 Big Expense Retirees Are More Than Willing to Pay |
Morningstar: Economic Anxiety Extends to Retirement |
NAPA Net: Fake News — It’s Worse Than You Thought |
NAPA Net: OMB Concludes Review of Fiduciary Regulation Applicability Delay |
NAPA Net: Appeal Filed in Fiduciary Litigation |
NAPA Net: HSA Due Diligence: What to Look For |
Kiplinger: Retirement Spending Strategies Maximize Happiness |
Morningstar: Roth, Traditional, or Taxable? Why Your Best Answer May Be ‘Yes’ |
NAPA Net: Are Retirement Projections Based on Flawed Returns? |
NAPA Net: Proprietary Fund Suit Survives Dismissal Motion |
NAPA Net: In the Interest of Best Interest |
NAPA Net: February Bounce Boosts 401k Plans |
NAPA Net: Provider Served With Second Participant Suit This Year |
NAPA Net: Reader Poll: The Impact of Excess Fee Litigation |
NAPA Net: How to Prepare Today for Tomorrow’s Health Care Costs |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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