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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 7/7/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 7/7/17
July 10
00:02 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 Goal for Retirees and the Most Useful Strategy to Get There,” (, July 5, 2017) You’re the one ultimately responsible for all decisions, from picking and choosing what you do and buy to determining how to manage your assets and cash flow stream. Oh, and did we forget to mention this is for the rest of your life?

Compliance – Does She or Doesn’t She:
Do we have a retirement crisis, or don’t we? Even hairdressers don’t know for sure.
Reports of a US retirement crisis are off the mark: Think tank study,” (CNBC, July 5, 2017) Most people fear there will be a retirement crisis… for other people apparently, since most people also believe they’re doing just fine in terms of preparing themselves for retirement.
IRAs not serving intended savers: CRR,” (BenefitsPRO, July 6, 2017) Nearly half of all retirement savings is in IRAs (the other half being in company sponsored plans). Here’s the thing: It turns out people in company sponsored retirement plans have IRAs but people not in company sponsored retirement plans don’t. Why not? And is that a real problem or just a problem in the eyes of policy wonks?

Fiduciary – How to Make a Can of Worms:
This should be fun. Get the popcorn popping!
10 fiduciary rule areas of inquiry in Labor’s RFI,” (BenefitsPRO, July 3, 2017) Straight from the DOL’s mouth, it looks like they’re really questioning this rule.
Trump Administration, in U.S. Appeals Court, Rebuffs Challenge to ‘Fiduciary Rule’,” (National Law Journal, July 3, 2017) What? Wait. Uh? Hint: There is not necessarily inconsistent with gutting the Rule. They like the idea of regulators having free rein, so perhaps this is to make it harder for their own future rules to be challenged in the courts.
Non-ERISA 403(b) Conflict-of-Interest Rule Passed in Conn.,” (PLANADVISER, July 3, 2017) The SEC better be watching its back.
Fiduciary need greater in retirement phase of life: Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, July 5, 2017) Retirement isn’t “set-it-and-forget-it.” You still need a team of competent service providers (even if one of them is your former employer) and you need to make sure they have your sole best interests at heart.

Fees – The Question of the Hour:
It’s what everyone wants to know, what no one knows the sure answer to, and, for some, an answer that could only come after it’s too late.
In Fiduciary Rule, How Do You Define ‘Reasonable’ Compensation?” (ThinkAdvisor, June 29, 2017) That certainly is the question. The problem is, only case law will determine the answer. And, for someone, that will be one case too late.

Investments – But You Already Knew This:
Here’s the difference between a financial practitioner and a financial journalist: By the time the journalist finally writes the story, the practitioner has been living it so much it has become second nature, if it hasn’t already been replaced by a new trend.
Retirement savers ditch the ‘do it yourself’ approach, opt for target dated funds and professional guidance,” (CNBC, July 2, 2016) CNBC is late to the game on this one as any professional servicing plans with behavioral finance based menu options (i.e., “category” or “tier” based menus vs. the old MPT-based “style box” menus) have long ago discovered this. Interesting, though, is this idea: Since “do-it-yourself” is predicated on using index funds and the single portfolio option may or may not use index funds, does this signal a slowing of the index fund juggernaut?

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.
More Employers Make Roth 401k Matching Contributions,” (PLANADVISER, June 30, 2017)
Who’s Made the Greatest Gains in 401k Participation Rates?” (The 401(k) Specialist, June 30, 2017)
401k suit against Nationwide puts micro plans in crosshairs,” (BenefitsPRO, June 30, 2017)
A Deeper Look into the Long-Horizon of DB Plans,” (PLANADVISER, June 30, 2017)
Is Retirement Plan Leakage Finally Drying Up?” (The 401(k) Specialist, July 2, 2017)
U.S. Retirement Asset Total Increases 8.5%: ICI,” (ThinkAdvisor, July 2, 2017)
How to get 401k participants to think long-term,” (Employee Benefit News, July 3, 2017)
3 Areas of Focus for Future 401k Growth,” (The 401(k) Specialist, July 3, 2017)
Money Market Returns Challenged In Latest ERISA Suit,” (PLANADVISER, July 3, 2017)
Retirement savers turning to advisors, TDFs,” (BenefitsPRO, July 6, 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.
Retirement Takes More Than Curb Appeal,” (Forbes, June 20,2017)
How setting up an online Social Security account fights ID theft,” (CBS News, June 20, 2017)
Study shows ‘retirement literacy’ is shockingly low,” (Chicago Tribune, June 20, 2017)
Do you need to pay off your mortgage before you retire?” (MarketWatch, June 21, 2017)
Transfer of IRA Funds Not a Distribution,” (Wealth Management, June 29, 2017)
Quiz: Do you know these retirement facts?” (BenefitsPRO, June 30, 2017)
Chronic Illness: Planning for Early Retirement,” (ThinkAdvisor, July 2, 2017)
What if you don’t have enough saved to retire?” (The Washington Post, July 3, 2017)
You shouldn’t pay Roth conversion taxes with IRA money — here’s why,” (MarketWatch, July 4, 2017)
7 reasons not to retire before age 66,” (BenefitsPRO, July 5, 2017)
Three retirement savings strategies to use if you plan to retire early,” (CNBC, July 5, 2017)
How Prepared Are Boomers, Gen Xers & Millennials for Retirement?” (ThinkAdvisor, July 5, 2017)
General Mills to freeze U.S. pension plans,” (Employee Benefit News, July 6, 2017)
Retirement Savings: How to Save Without Forgoing Lattes,” (Money, July 6, 2017)
How To Be Prepared For The Unexpected In Retirement,” (Forbes, July 6, 2017)
How to get a jump on saving for retirement in your 20s,” (CNN, July 6, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Ary Rosenbaum: Free Advice For 401k Plan Sponsors |
Data “Points”: Fiduciary Lessons from the Founding Fathers |
Scholarly Financial Planner: July 2017: Time to Take Action to Assist Your Profession |
Scholarly Financial Planner: Issues of Public Policy I Often Wonder About …. |
Nerd’s Eye View: Fat Tails In Monte Carlo Analysis vs Safe Withdrawal Rates Buyer Beware: Dishonest 401k Sales Tactics |
Squared Away Blog: IRAs Fall Short of Original Goal |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Beware of Insurance Brokers Masked as TPAs |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: You don’t need to think just happy thought about the retirement plan business |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Excessive Fee Suit Comes From a New Direction |
NAPA Net: Is Roth on the Rise? |
NAPA Net: Plan Sponsor Contributions to Roth 401k Plans Increase in T. Rowe Plans |
Kiplinger: Impact on RMDs When Reversing a Roth IRA Conversion |
NAPA Net: IRS Moves to Nudge Employers to Pre-Approved Plans  |
NAPA Net: Who Knew Being a Plan Advisor Could Be So Exciting? |
NAPA Net: Average 401k Balances Continue to Surge in Q2 |
NAPA Net: Small Businesses Increasingly Using Best-in-Class Design Features |
The Motley Fool: A Simple Bond Strategy for Boosting Your Retirement Income |
Kiplinger: Plan for Social Security as a Couple |
NAPA Net: Comment Period on DOL Fiduciary Rule RFI Opens July 6 |
NAPA Net: DOL Backs Fiduciary Reg in 5th Circuit Brief – With One Exception |
NAPA Net: The Fiduciary Rule and Discretionary Investment Management |
The Motley Fool: What to Do if You Contribute Too Much to Your IRA |
Kiplinger: How to Clarify Your Retirement Goals |
NAPA Net: Thrivent Claims DOL’s BIC Arbitration Shift Makes its Case |
NAPA Net: More Plans Moving to Tiered Basis Compensation Method |
The Motley Fool: 3 Roth IRA Rules You Should Know by Heart |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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