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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/31/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/31/17
April 03
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 Top Seven Questions Retirement Savers Fail to Ask But Should,” (, March 28, 2017) It’s often difficult for those not immersed in the everyday concerns of retirement saving to know what to ask (let alone how to interpret the answers). It’s up to plan sponsors and the service providers they employ to guide plan participants along the proper route.

Compliance – Real Movement on the MEP Front:
For the past year or so, it has become clear two things need to occur in order to MEPs to really take off. First, we need the legislation. Movement on that front finally appears to be happening. Second – and this only became important when the Obama administration unilaterally stripped ERISA protection from private employees in order to reward their political allies – the DOL would need to reverse course and remove the ERISA exemptions from state-run retirement plans for private workers.
Bill Would Reduce Retirement Plan Costs for Small Employers,” (PLANADVISER, March 24, 2017) Is this the beginning of the new MEP.
Republicans Take Aim At California’s Retirement Dream,” (Financial Advisor, March 29, 2017) The opening says it all: “Nancy Harvey has a goal. ‘I’d like to retire before dying,’ she said. Harvey, 55, has almost nothing saved for retirement… She was looking forward to a new way to save, courtesy of her home state’s government.” Let’s see, “55,” “nothing saved for retirement,” “retire before dying,” anyone else see a problem here? The expectations (and maybe the sales pitch) of these state-run retirement plans borders on the edge of false advertising. Maybe the DOL ought to look into it. Oh, wait…
DOL Rules on Government-Run Retirement Plans Overturned by Senate,” (PLANADVISER, March 30, 2017) Private employee workers score a victory as their ERISA protections are restored.

Fiduciary – The New Fiduciary Standard:
From the ashes of the DOL’s abortive attempt to provide “fiduciary” cover to normally prohibited transactions rises a resilient few, determined to forge a new fiduciary that harkens backs to the roots of its origin. It is really “new”? No, but the environment has changed. No longer does “fiduciary” hide in the lofty heights of the elite few. Today, all know of the benefits of advice given within the framework of fiduciary. Never again will the masses allow themselves to misunderstand their own best interests. If they want to extend a limited power of attorney, that will only be done within the context of “fiduciary.” If, sans fiduciary, they prefer to make their own decisions regarding investment transactions, they will now do so knowing, as they have always known for any consumer decision, caveat emptor.
The Market Has Decided,” (Financial Advisor, March 2017) One man’s opinion that’s shared by many.
Being a Fiduciary Is More Than Offering the Lowest Cost Solution,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 23, 2017) This has been the case for a while now, ever since the DOL came out with its fee disclosure rule. The interesting twist in this article is how the author applies it to present circumstances and the active vs. passive argument. Just because passive is less expensive doesn’t mean investing in it represents the client’s best interests given that the market is overvalued.
DOL Sends Final Fiduciary Rule Delay Request to OMB,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 29, 2017) Who didn’t see this coming?
The Fiduciary Standard: What Would Peter Drucker Say?” (ThinkAdvisor, March 29, 2017) Read about what it means to be a “sometimes fiduciary” and be warned.
Who’s responsible for acting in whose best interests?” (BenefitsPRO, March 29, 2017) Ouch. The clients might not want to hear this. But, then again, that’s the whole point.

Fees – Apparently Fee Concern has been Waived for the Week:

Investments – Everyone’s Just Too Happy About The Quarter:There’s a demon lurking deep within the market internals. No one wants to believe it is there, but, just like 1999, it’s hiding in plain sight. Sooner or later, actual events need to meet or exceed expectations, or that that demon will rear its ugly head so those now blind to it can finally see. Caveat Emptor!
Do this with retirement money if you’re worried about a correction,” (CNBC, March 28, 2017) Simple answers to a simple question.

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 skillful RMD planning can sustain retirement portfolios,” (Financial Planning, March 23, 2017)
Another Casualty of Bad Retirement Planning: Worker Productivity,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 23, 2017)
Helping employees reach their retirement goals,” (Employee Benefit News, March 24, 2017)
Administrative Proceedings for ERISA Legality Claims Would Be Futile,” (PLANADVISER, March 24, 2017)
Digital approach to millennials can boost retirement savings participation,” (BenefitsPRO, March 24, 2017)
Retirement preparedness improves for employees,” (Employee Benefit News, March 26, 2017)
Retirement Planning: Boomers Navigate Impact of Financial Crisis,” (Fox, March 26, 2017)
Oracle 401k Challenge Jumps Another Legal Hurdle,” (PLANADVISER, March 27, 2017)
401k Assets Inch Closer to Major Milestone,” (The 401(k) Specialist, March 27, 2017)
Anthem Excessive Fee Case Survives Most Motions to Dismiss,” (PLANADVISER, March 27, 2017)
Younger Participants Expect Employer To Steer Retirement Plan,” (PLANADVISER, March 27, 2017)
Retirement planning should depend on two ages, not one,” (BenefitsPRO, March 27, 2017)
Oral Arguments Presented to Supreme Court About Church Plan Cases,” (PLANADVISER, March 28, 2017)
Taking a fresh look at 401k plan design,” (Employee Benefit News, March 29, 2017)
Employees struggling with financial literacy,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 29, 2017)
How Retirement Plan Sponsors Can Manage Liability Risks,” (Wealth Management, March 29, 2017)
The power – and pitfalls – of retirement savers’ illusions,” (BenefitsPRO, March 29, 2017)
Plan Sponsor and Participant Clients Thirsty For HSA Guidance,” (PLANADVISER, March 30, 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.
8 Money Mistakes You Want To Avoid In Your 30s,” (Forbes, March 23, 2017)
Why You Still Need Time Management After You Retire,” (US News, March 23, 2017)
The Rising Cost of $1 in Retirement Income,” (Wealth Management, March 24, 2017)|
Traditional IRA vs. Roth IRA: No, the Roth Isn’t No-Brainer,” (Money, March 24, 2017)|
8 tips to save a fortune from people who are retiring before 45,” (CNBC, March 24, 2017)
Most Americans failed this eight-question retirement quiz,” (MarketWatch, March 25, 2017)
Retirement Planning: Boomers Navigate Impact of Financial Crisis,” (Fox Business, March 25, 2017)
Single Most Important Step 401k Participants Can Take,” (The 401(k) Specialist, March 25, 2017)
Do this with retirement money if you’re worried about a correction,” (CNBC, March 28, 2017)
$7,000 in Roth IRA contributions that became $6 million in tax-free gains,” (On Wall Street, March 28, 2017)
Can The ‘Rule of 55’ Help You Plan For Retirement?” (Forbes, March 28, 2017)
Americans Losing Trillions for Lacking Financial Knowledge,” (PLANADVISER, March 29, 2017)
When it’s finally time to retire but you can’t spend your savings,” (CNN, March 29, 2017)
Should the U.S. raise the age for required IRA distributions?” (MarketWatch, March 30, 2017)
What You Need To Know About Saving For Retirement In Your Thirties,” (Forbes, March 30, 2017)
Why Americans Aren’t Saving Enough for Retirement,” (Fox Business, march 30, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Be accountable to your clients |
Proskauer: Sixth Circuit: ERISA Exhaustion Not Required in Plan Amendment Suit |
Squared Away Blog: Black America’s New Retirement Issue |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: There will be a morning after |
Business of Benefits: The Most Effective Proposed MEP Legislation Happens Not To Be MEP Legislation |
fi360: Filling the Void in Guaranteed Retirement Income |
Data “Points”: View “Points” |
Scholarly Financial Planner: I Am Absolutely Stunned by Trump Tweets This A.M. Regarding SEC Nominees, Fiduciary, DOL |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
The Motley Fool: IRA Options for the Self-Employed |
NAPA Net: Tax Reform Takes Center Stage |
NAPA Net: Are Participants Under 30 the DIFM Generation? |
NAPA Net: Excessive Fee Case Moves Forward |
The Motley Fool: How to Make Your 401k Last in Retirement |
Morningstar: Benz: Building Your Retirement Portfolio Step by Step |
The Motley Fool: What You Need to Know About 401k Taxes in 2017 |
Kiplinger: Even if Fiduciary Rule Dies, Investors Have Wised Up |
NAPA Net: Points of View |
NAPA Net: Gross, PIMCO ‘Bond’ |
Kiplinger: To Avoid a Tax Surprise, Diversify Your Accounts |
NAPA Net: DOL Submits Fiduciary Delay Final Rule to OMB |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Plan Participation and IRA Contributions |
NAPA Net: IRS, Treasury Weigh in on Fiduciary Reg Delay |
NAPA Net: Retirement Plans Dominate TDF Holdings |
Kiplinger: Millennial Money Habits Retirees Should Learn |
NAPA Net: Study Finds a Misconduct Double Standard for Women Advisors |
NAPA Net: Congress Should Pass on Changing the Pass-Through Income Tax Rate |
NAPA Net: Fiduciary Embezzler Comes Up Short |
NAPA Net: Determining the Best Retirement Age |
Kiplinger: Don’t Let Hidden Fees Hijack Your Retirement |
The Motley Fool: What Is the Maximum Social Security Tax in 2017? |
NAPA Net: Congress Moves to Roll Back Harbor for Municipal, County Auto-IRA Plans |
NAPA Net: Reader Poll: What Are NAPA Net Readers Doing With HSAs? |
NAPA Net: Acosta Nominated as Secretary of Labor |
Kiplinger: Fiduciary Rule Under Fire
The Motley Fool: 3 IRA Rules to Live By |

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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