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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 10/6/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 10/6/17
October 09
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:
401k: Kill it or Expand Its Reach?” (, October 3, 2017) This is not to say the 401k is perfect and that there’s no need to improve it. These improvements, though, would be more like tweaks rather than wholesale changes.

Compliance – Meet the New Rules/Same as the Old Rules:
Only with more enforcement. Why can’t we have real new rules?
PBGC Proposes Plan Termination Forms Be Filed Electronically,” (PLANADVISER, October 2, 2017) The faster to get to the inevitable.
PBGC Issues Technical Update on Reportable Events,” (PLANADVISER, October 3, 2017) More to read up on.
DOL to increase DB audits,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, October 3, 2017) Read it and weep, boys, read it and weep.
Winston Churchill on 401k plans and MEPs:Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, October 4, 2017) Here it is, plain and simple.
IRS Publishes Final Rule Regarding Mortality Tables,” (PLANADVISER, October 4, 2017) Just in case you wanted to know when you were going to die.
Workers Like the Idea of State-Sponsored Auto-IRA Programs,” (PLANADVISER, October 5, 2017) Would they also like the idea of jumping into the lake if all their friends are doing it? Asking for a friend.

Fiduciary – Discovering a New World of Fiduciary:
Not really. That world has always been there. It’s just that some never knew about it. Until now.
Proprietary Funds,” (PLANADVISER, July/August 2017) This detailed article outlines the various attempts to get around the “self-dealing” prohibition of fiduciary law. Spoiler alert: Such a strategy usually doesn’t end well for the defendants.
Vanguard Asks SEC To Develop ‘Best Interest’ Fiduciary Rule For Brokers,” (Financial Advisor, October 3, 2017) Yes, but will it be the real “best interest” standard or a broker “best interest” standard?
Delay of fiduciary rule likely to be challenged in court,” (BenefitsPRO, October 3, 2017) Rather than playing defense, consumer advocates limited resources might be better spent playing offense. For example, what if they got in front on this “clean shares” debate (see below).
SEC Is Working on a Fiduciary Rule Proposal,” (Wealth Management, October 4, 2017) With the DOL effort apparently stalled, can the SEC catch up?

Fees – How Clean are “Clean” Shares?:
It turns out there’s no consensus – yet – on the definition of “clean” shares. Are we about to fall victim to yet another regulatory bait and switch.
Clean shares will play starring role in the future of investment advice,” (BenefitsPRO, September 29, 2017) Once again, it’s about the fees that matter, not the fees that don’t matter.
Clean Shares Are a Work in Progress: Morningstar,” (ThinkAdvisor, October 2, 2017) Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute! It’s possible “clean” shares might allow revenue sharing. Maybe they’re not as clean as we’d like to think.
Fidelity Found Not Liable in Excessive Fee Suit,” (PLANADVISER, October 2, 2017) Only because he judge decided Fidelity wasn’t the fiduciary, the plan sponsor was. This happens all the time, as well it should if Fidelity was only acting in the capacity of a broker. If, on the other hand, it was purporting to offer advice, then, Houston, we have a problem.
Brokers Violating DOL Rule by Shifting Clients to Fee Accounts: Roper,” (ThinkAdvisor, October 5, 2017) It’s true that brokerage accounts would be better off paying commissions. It’s also true that adviser accounts cannot pay transaction-based without violating one of the primary standards of a fiducary (self-dealing transactions).

Investments – Repeating History:
A long time ago, wiser heads understood why certain things simply shouldn’t ever be done. Younger minds thought they knew better. Turns out they didn’t.
Will TDF Series Based on ETFs Become the Norm?” (PLANADVISER, October 3, 2017) There was a good reason funds of funds used to be outlawed by the SEC. Maybe those reasons should be revisited.
Helping DB Plan Clients Enhance Portfolio Outcomes,” (PLANADVISER, October 4, 2017) Or so the white paper says.

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.
401k Assets Hit New High (Again),” (The 401(k) Specialist, September 29, 2017)
When retirement plan administrators make an error,” (Employee Benefit News, October 1, 2017)
How To Save Clients Taxes On 401k RMDs,” (Financial Advisor, October 2, 2017)
An ‘exception’ that could delay RMDs from 401k plans,” (Financial Planning, October 2, 2017)
Why employees should max out health savings account contributions,” (Employee Benefit News, October 2, 2017)
UPenn Victorious in Retirement Plan Fiduciary Battle,” (The 401(k) Specialist, October 2, 2017)
DC plan termination: 5 criteria for selecting a services provider,” (BenefitsPRO, October 2, 2017)
Fidelity Dismissed from Verizon Plan Investments Suit,” (PLANADVISER, October 3, 2017)
Follow the RMD and Your Clients Won’t Go Broke in Retirement,” (ThinkAdvisor, October 3, 2017)
Top 401k Plan Sponsor Initiative of 2018?” (The 401(k) Specialist, October 3, 2017)
10 features of a retirement-ready 401k plan,” (BenefitsPRO, October 3, 2017)
Government employees flock to sponsored plans as educators lag,” (Employee Benefit News, October 5, 2017)
What Do Workers Think of State-Sponsored Retirement Plans?” (The 401(k) Specialist, October 5, 2017)
Why cyberattacks make a compelling case for auto-portability,” (Employee Benefit News, October 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.
Most Americans Not Committed Savers,” (PLANADVISER, September 29, 2017)
Americans fear Social Security will go broke, poll shows,” (CBS News, September 29, 2017)
How to avoid some of the more common IRA mistakes,” (USA Today, September 29, 2017)
Individualism Defines Millennials’ Financial Future,” (PLANADVISER, September 29, 2017)
These Millennials Are Saving $16,000 A Year For Retirement,” (Forbes, October 1, 2017)
The big decision when you retire: Should you rent or buy,” (CNBC, October 1, 2017)
5 Signs Elder Care Is Ruining A Client’s Retirement,” (Financial Advisor, October 2, 2017)
Hack your HSA: It’s not just for medical costs anymore,” (CNBC, October 2, 2017)
5 ways to turn home equity into retirement savings,” (The San Diego Union-Tribune, October 2, 2017)
Bratty Millennials Beat Boomers at 401k Benchmarks,” (The 401(k) Specialist, October 2, 2017)
Is The Future Of Retirement Margaritaville?” (Financial Advisor, October 3, 2017)
Latinos Need Retirement and Financial Planning Assistance,” (PLANADVISER, October 3, 2017)
This action plan can give all Americans a secure retirement,” (MarketWatch, October 3, 2017)
How many millennials are saving for retirement,” (CNBC, October 3, 2017)
Retirement Planning: Rebalance If You Want to Reduce Risk,” (Money, October 4, 2017)
Traditional vs. Roth: Which IRA is right for your retirement plan?” (CBS News, October 4, 2017)
What if the ‘retirement crisis’ has been exaggerated?” (MarketWatch, October 4, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Ary Rosenbaum: Retirement Plan Features Going The Way Of Bell Bottoms and Betamax |
Fred Reish: Inside the Beltway October 12, 2017 |
Squared Away Blog: Older Americans Handling Work Demands |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Don’t Let Them Change You |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Should Your 401k Plan Go Safe Harbor? |
Business of Benefits: 403(b) Document Delays; the “Once In Always In” Rule; and the “Effective Date Addendum” |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s #Fiduciary Rule #64 |
Squared Away Blog: Many Americans Feel Financial Distress |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Pick a Provider That Is Ahead of The Curve |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Grow your client’s plan assets |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
Kiplinger: Consider a Roth IRA for Your Child |
NAPA Net: Recordkeeper Dodges Excessive Fee Claims With Robo-Advisor Arrangement |
NAPA Net: September’s Surge Stokes Average 401k Balances |
NAPA Net: Business Owners’ Optimism May Lead to Growth in Retirement Benefits |
NAPA Net: Generations ‘Grasp’ |
NAPA Net: SPARK Initiates Best Practices for Reporting Cybersecurity Capabilities |
NAPA Net: Verify Plan Loan Repayments, Tax Court Reminds |
Kiplinger: Plot Your Retirement with a Written Income Plan |
NAPA Net: How Do Your Compensation Practices Stack up Against the Competition? |
NAPA Net: Your 401k Accounts Could Be Hacked |
NAPA Net: Another Win Some, Lose Some for Parties in 403(b) Suit |
NAPA Net: The Fourth, Less Well Known BICE Requirement |
The Motley Fool: Why Don’t More People Wait to Claim Social Security at 70? |
Morningstar: Invest for Short- and Intermediate-Term Goals |
NAPA Net: SEC Working on New Standards of Conduct, Clayton Says |
NAPA Net: Retirement Plan Words of the Year |
NAPA Net: Report: Enhanced Saver’s Credit Would Improve Retirement Security |
NAPA Net: More Employees Turning to ESPPs to Acquire Company Stock |
Kiplinger: Don’t Overlook These 5 Retirement Income Risks |
The Motley Fool: About to Take Social Security? Read This First |
NAPA Net: Consumer Group Says Shift to Fee-Based Accounts Could Violate Fiduciary Rule  |
NAPA Net: Reader Poll: Do You Have an Education Policy Statement Policy? |
NAPA Net: Supremes Leave ABB ‘Be’ |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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