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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 5/5/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 5/5/17
May 08
00:37 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 50s and the Most Useful Strategy to Get There,” (, May 2, 2017) “While it is preferable to start at a young age, you are never too old to start making good financial decisions. If you have made mistakes in the past, it is important that you recognize where you went wrong, and start taking the proper steps to fix any issues you may have created, so that you can move towards a healthier financial state.”

Compliance – Quick Jabs and a Knock-Out Blow:
All that emanates from legislative halls is fiction until it is fact. And we’ll never know it is really fact until some judge says it is. Or not.
Fake News Hits 401ks,” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 27, 2017) People often ask why we don’t list ongoing legislative discussions in Trending Topics. This article explains it. Much of it is, at best, incomplete; most likely, pure speculation; and, at worst, outright misleading.
Small employers in the dark on new state retirement law in CT,” (BenefitsPRO, May 2, 2017) Just noticed this little gnat in the Connecticut retirement plan requirement: 50% of plan assets must be invested in an income option. Wasn’t reducing exposure to “safe” income-oriented investments the entire purpose of the 2006 Pension Protection Act? And the states expect to be exempt for ERISA?
State retirement plan safe harbor killed in Senate,” (BenefitsPRO, May 3, 2017) Retirement savers can breathe a sigh of relief, assuming Trump signs it (which is expected).

Fiduciary – A New Fiduciary:
The situation is fluid. Only the last man standing will get to write the history.
The 5 Levels of Fiduciary,” (ThinkAdvisor, May 1, 2017) Don Trone pitches his philosophy on fiduciary.

Fees – Silence in the Middle of the Crossfire:
Sometimes when the action crescendos to a fever pitch, the world suddenly grows silent and you move along in a different dimension.

Investments – Controlling Expectations:
You can create your own world, and when you do that, you’ll be surprised what you can attain.
Behavioral Biases Can Be Dangerous And Expensive,” (Financial Advisor, May 1, 2017) Good comments by Richard Thaler. Worth the read.
Broader Diversification Is Possible For Retirees,” (Forbes, May 3, 2017) For those of you missing the old way of doing things, here you go.
Strike Three: Is Index Investing Really a Swing and a Miss?” (ThinkAdvisor, May 3, 2017) Bob Clark’s logic concludes sometimes it’s good to index, sometimes it’s good to go active. Nothing new with that. What’s interesting is the larger point of “enough.” He doesn’t address the fact that active management might give you enough, even if it doesn’t match the index, but in such a way that reduces the downside. In other words, why gamble away for the higher returns of the index if you’re better off just avoiding the downside of the index.

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 Do 401k Plan Sponsors Feel About HSAs?” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 28, 2017)
Lack of Retirement Readiness Sparks Plan Sponsor Concern,” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 28, 2017)
Why mitigating fiduciary risk is more vital than ever,” (Employee Benefit News, May 1, 2017)
401k savings ‘isn’t enough’ for financial security,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, May 1, 2017)
Smartest, dumbest things people do with 401k funds,” (CNBC, May 1, 2017)
Why retirement plans set on autopilot do little to help,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, May 4, 2017)
Court Finds Starwood 401k Excessive Fee Claim Plausible,” (PLANADVISER, May 4, 2017)
Why retirement plans need a hands-on approach,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, May 4, 2017)
How behavioral science can improve retirement plan health & outcomes for participants,” (BenefitsPRO, May 5, 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.
Can you actually become a millionaire on an average salary?” (CNN, April 28, 2017)
How to Manage Your Finances When One Spouse Retires – and the Other Doesn’t,” (US News, April 28, 2017)
401k myths you can’t afford to believe,” (USA Today, May 1, 2017)
Most Americans fail to understand basic retirement concepts,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, May 2, 2017)
10 signs retirement is in crisis,” (BenefitsPRO, May 2, 2017)
Pinching pennies on Social Security? Maybe not,” (USA Today, May 2, 2017)
50+? Never say ‘never’ to retirement saving,” (BenefitsPRO, May 3, 2017)
Social Security Benefits: What Retirees Get Right and Wrong,” (Money, May 3, 2017)
10 best places to relocate to retire in 2017,” (BenefitsPRO, May 4, 2017)
Five Toxic Myths That Could Ruin Your Retirement,” (Forbes, May 4, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Know when a SEP no longer fits |
Proskauer: District Court Dismisses Allegations That Stable Value Fund is Too Conservative |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: Fourth Circuit Upholds The District Court’s Ruling Rules That The Fiduciaries’ Procedural Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Did Not Cause A Loss To The Plan |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #45 |
Behavior Gap: What’s Enough to Make You Happy? |
Proskauer: Claims Against Investment Adviser in ERISA Fee Litigation Case Dismissed |
Proskauer: Protecting Your Qualified Retirement Plan Now that the IRS Determination Program is (Mostly) Closed |
Squared Away Blog: Our Stubborn State of Financial Illiteracy |
Proskauer: First Circuit Enforces Arbitration of ERISA Dispute |
RetirementRevised: Future of retirement planning belongs to the cyborgs |
Ary Rosenbaum: For Retirement Plan Providers, It’s All About Relationships |
Scholarly Financial Planner: A Message to Morgan Stanley About Its (Lack of a Fiduciary) Culture |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: The Most Rejected Recommendation? |
NAPA Net: Transitioning to the Transition BIC |
NAPA Net: State-Run Private Sector IRA Comes Up Short in Centennial State |
NAPA Net: DOL Takes Next Step on ‘Road to Retirement Savings’ |
Morningstar: For Inflation Protection, Stay the Course, Diversify |
The Motley Fool: The Shockingly Small Amount Americans Have in Retirement Savings |
NAPA Net: Plaintiffs Strike Out Again in Stock Drop Case |
NAPA Net: 5 Things People Get Wrong About ERISA Fidelity Bonds |
NAPA Net: Average 401k Balance Springs to a Quick Start in April |
NAPA Net: CT Small Business Owners Skeptical About State-Run Retirement Plan |
The Motley Fool: Did You Know About This IRA Housing Loophole? |
Kiplinger: The Costs of Social Security Misinformation |
NAPA Net: Senate Slated to Vote on Rolling Back State-Run Auto-IRA Safe Harbor |
NAPA Net: Boomers Start Taking RMDs |
NAPA Net: Guess What’s Undermining Retirement Planning Now? |
NAPA Net: Are Millennials Caffeinating Their Retirement Savings? |
Morningstar: State IRA Plans Are Deeply Flawed |
NAPA Net: State-Run IRA Safe Harbor Runs Aground in Senate |
NAPA Net: Starwood Excessive Fee Suit Moves Ahead |
NAPA Net: Life Events Can Boost – or Break – Financial Wellness | 7 Dangers that Could Derail Your Retirement (and What to Do About Them) |
Kiplinger: 7 Ways to Reduce Your Income to Qualify for Roth IRA Contributions |
Gallup: 401k Regaining Importance as Future Income Source |
NAPA Net: House Panel Approves Bill That Would Repeal Fiduciary Rule |
NAPA Net: Establishing Plan, Roth, Automatic Solutions Top Recommended Lists |
NAPA Net: House Passes Obamacare Replacement with Expanded HSAs |
NAPA Net: PTEs Under the DOL Fiduciary ‘Package’ |
Morningstar: As Retirement Nears, Customize Your Plan |
TheStreet: Social Security Delays Are the Norm for Older Americans |
The Motley Fool: Should You Own or Rent a Home in Retirement? |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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