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What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/17/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/17/17
November 20
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:
Fiduciary Standard Quandary: First Avoid “Harm”onization,” (, November 14, 2017) Be careful what you wish for because sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease.

Compliance – Making an Offer…:
Sometimes life imitates art, and when it comes to government regulators, you just can’t help but think of classic gangster movies.
IRS Releases Covered Compensation Tables,” (PLANADVISER, November 14, 2017) As they pertain to both defined contribution and defined benefit plans.
Major News About 401k Advocacy, Lobbying,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 15, 2017) Two major industry associations join forces.
EBSA nominee Rutledge: ‘I believe in ERISA’,” (BenefitsPRO, November 15, 2017) Tell the truth. How many of you read the headline and immediately thought of the mortician’s opening line in the movie The Godfather?

Fiduciary – Coming Out Swinging:
If Teddy Roosevelt advised “Speak softly, but carry a big stick,” what would he say about speaking loudly?
The Courts Differ on Vicarious Liability,” (PLANADVISER, September/October 2017)
SEC Eyes Rule On Use Of ‘Advisor’ Title, Promises More RIA Exams,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 10, 2017) More from the TDAmeritrade Advocacy Conference.
DOL Ready to Enforce Fiduciary Rule: Acosta,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 15, 2017) This is a bit of a change in tone. The DOL is now saying “willful violators” will be prosecuted.
Sales and advice: The oil & water of finance – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, November 15, 2017) When does a dual registrant flip hats from the suitability standard to the fiduciary standard? Here the problem starts: Mixing sales and advice.
DOL’s Acosta: Advisors must act in customers’ best interest,” (BenefitsPRO, November 16, 2017) Um, you realize the DOL has a higher standard than the one imposed by the SEC, don’t you?

Fees – Stretch Goals:
Seems like the fee folks may have consumed all the low hanging fruit. The problem with this strategy is it risks stretching definitions to the absurd. This hurts honest efforts to expense the dangers of true – not imagined – conflicts-of-interest.
Nordstrom Charged With Allowing Excessive Fees in 401k Plan,” (PLANADVISER, November 13, 2017) This is one to watch as it’s not about different class shares but plain-and-simple above average fees.
High 401k Fees May Be Shorting Clients $170,000,” (Financial Advisor, November 15, 2017) Unless, that is, those high fees generate $1,000,000 more in investment returns. That’s the issue that goes unreported in this new survey which, incidentally, isn’t about “fee” as much as it’s about mutual fund operating costs (a.k.a., expense ratio).
Retirement Plan Participants Need More Familiarity With Investment Fees,” (PLANADVISER, November 15, 2017) What’s that thing about the Serenity Prayer? Something about God granting one the ability to accept the things one cannot change. Unless and until plan participants can negotiate retirement plan service fees, they have no real incentive to monitor the constantly fees the plan sponsor negotiates.

Investments – Calm Before Storm?:
We’re not sayin’ it’s aliens, but…

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 to Locate Missing 401k Participants,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 9, 2017)
Colleges and Universities Seek Expert DC Advisers for Plan Refinements,” (PLANADVISER, November 10, 2017)
Ten key features of a retirement-ready 401k,” (Employee Benefit News, November 13, 2017)
Court Says Change to More Volatile Crediting Rate Not Against Top Hat Plan Terms,” (PLANADVISER, November 13, 2017)
Franklin Templeton Targeted in Self-Dealing Fiduciary Breach Lawsuit,” (PLANADVISER, November 13, 2017)
Nordstrom hit with fiduciary breach lawsuit,” (Employee Benefit News,” November 14, 2017)
A New Look at Pension Plan Investing in 2018,” (PLANADVISER, November 16, 2017)
5 Tips to Make 401k Participants Better Investors,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 16, 2017)
SIFMA Files Brief in Support of Fidelity in Stable Value Suit,” (PLANADVISER, November 16, 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.
How are Millennials Behaving with 401K Savings?” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 9, 2017)
‘More Money, More Savings’ Study Finds,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 9, 2017)
Suze Orman: Most young people invest in the wrong kind of 401k,” (CNBC, November 10, 2017)
‘Emotional Factors’ Key to Saving Success,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 10, 2017)
Middle-Income Folks Could Be Doing More OK With 401k Plans,” (Financial Advisor, November 13, 2017)
11 facts to know about catch-up contributions,” (BenefitsPRO, November 13, 2017)
Yes, You Can Save for College and Retirement,” (NerdWallet, November 13, 2017)
Americans View Debt in Retirement as a Negative,” (PLANADVISER, November 14, 2017)
Employees prioritize retirement saving, work-life balance,” (BenefitsPRO, November 14, 2017)
How Do Workers Feel About Debt in Retirement?” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 14, 2017)
Suze Orman’s Retirement Advice: Pay Your Mortgage,” (Money, November 14, 2017)
4 Measures of 401k Financial Wellness Success,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 16, 2017)
For Older Generations, Paying Off Debt Overrides Saving for Retirement,” (PLANADVISER, November 16, 2017)
Biggest Causes of 401k Financial Fear,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 16, 2017)
Are 401k catch-up contributions only used by the affluent?” (BenefitsPRO, November 16, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Location of your plan provider isn’t an issue these days |
fi360: Q3 Top Quartile Report – Special Edition |
Ary Rosenbaum: It Looks Good On Paper For The 401k Plan Sponsor, But… |
Data “Points”: 4 Reasons Why an Average 401k Balance Doesn’t ‘Mean’ Much | Will Current Tax Reform Impact My Business? |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Stealing plan assets is easier than you think |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #70 |
Business of Benefits: Is a Change in MEP Rules Imminent? |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Nordstrom is the latest large employer sued over their 401k plan |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Get fiduciary liability insurance |
Squared Away Blog: To be Old is to be Happy |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Amendments to Senate Tax Reform Could Help, Hurt Retirement Savings |
NAPA Net: Nordstrom Plan Participant Claims 401k Plan Fees No Bargain |
The Motley Fool: 4 Great Tax Breaks for Retirees |
Kiplinger: Where to Retire in Florida |
NAPA Net: Money Matters in Maximizing the Match |
NAPA Net: 4 Retirement Savings Benchmarks That (Generally) Miss the Mark |
NAPA Net: CT Pushes Back Implementation Date for State-Run Auto-IRA Program |
NAPA Net: What’s the Correct Measure of Retirement Income Adequacy? |
Kiplinger: To Retire, Mind Your Purpose, Plan, Procrastination |
NAPA Net: Plan Sponsor Council of America Joins American Retirement Association |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: The Formula for Calculating RMDs |
NAPA Net: (Most) Retirement Reforms Rolled Back in Modified Mark |
NAPA Net: Retirement Benefits on IRS Agenda in Priority Guidance Plan |
The Motley Fool: What to Do With Your Target-Date Fund After Retirement |
Morningstar: A Self-Described ‘Late Bloomer’ Eyes Retirement Readiness |
NAPA Net: ‘Labor’ Day on Capitol Hill |
NAPA Net: Knowing What Matters in the End |
NAPA Net: Ohio Senator to Introduce Pension Bill |
The Motley Fool: 3 Reasons to Keep Saving Money in Retirement |
Kiplinger: QLACs Can Help Reduce RMDs from IRAs and 401ks |
NAPA Net: Tax Reform Moves Forward in House and Senate |
NAPA Net: Reader Poll: Multiple Measures Map Retirement Income Adequacy |
NAPA Net: Pause Ordered in Fiduciary Litigation Case |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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