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What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/24/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/24/17
November 27
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:
Exclusive Interview: DCALTA’s Jonathan Epstein Explains How You Might be More Familiar with Alternative Investments Than You Think,” (, November 21, 2017) “Casting a wider investment net on asset classes and alternative strategies, especially those that are designed to reduce risk, as increasing a sponsor’s fiduciary liability. That seems to be the misnomer, that the term ‘alternatives’ assimilates to higher risk or higher cost investments.”

Compliance – Thankful They Keep Bad News in the Headlines:
Hmm, is it “a watched pot never boils” or “out of sight, out of mind”? Trying to figure out the best adage for this.
PBGC Deficit Report Shows Dire Situation for Multiemployer Plans,” (PLANADVISER, November 17, 2017) This is due primarily to large multiemployer plans.
PBGC Wants to Keep Requiring Disclosures for Distressed DB Plan Terminations,” (PLANADVISER, November 21, 2017) Makes sense.

Fiduciary – Thankful Nothing to Write About:
Everyone must have been busy chasing turkeys.

Fees – Thankful Someone Still Interested:
Fees. Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t live without ‘em.
What Do High 401k Fees Really Cost Workers?” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 19, 2017) This is less about the “cost” and more about the total ineffectiveness of the DOL’s 2012 401k Mutual Fund Fee Disclosure Rule.
Sizable Group of Investment Managers Pledge to Lower Fees,” (PLANADVISER, November 20, 2017) The median fee is 38 basis points ranging from 21 bps for fixed income to 90 bps for alternative investments.
Workers don’t ‘get’ retirement plan fees,” (BenefitsPRO, November 20, 2017) Or they’re simply not interested in taking the time to learn about something they can’t change.

Investments – Thankful Folks Have an Open Mind:
When markets hit new highs, the world seeks to stretch the investment truth. This inevitable will all end in tears. Enjoy the ride.
7 ways to improve target-date funds,” (MarketWatch, November 16, 2017) Better idea: prohibit target date funds from investing in other funds.
Do you live in an alternative universe? – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, November 22, 2017) The better question is, “Do you know we live in an alternative (investment) universe and always have lived there your entire 401k life?”

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.
Will Open MEPs Soon Have Their Day?” (PLANADVISER, November 17, 2017)
Plan Sponsor Council of America to join American Retirement Association,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, November 17, 2017)
New Complaint Alleges Excessive Fees in NYU Plans,” (PLANADVISER, November 20, 2017)
4 reasons to be thankful for 401k plans,” (Employee Benefit News, November 20, 2017)
First Bankers Trust Settles Three ERISA Suits,” (PLANADVISER, November 20, 2017)
NAFA Fiduciary Case Postponed Till 5th Circuit Ruling,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 20, 2017)
Wells Fargo Sued Over In-House 401k Funds, Again,” (Bloomberg, November 20, 2017)
10 defined-benefit plan investment terms, redefined,” (BenefitsPRO, November 20, 2017)
Less Than 1% of DC Plan Participants Took Hardships in the First Half of 2016,” (PLANSPONSOR, November 21, 2017)
Changing Views on Plan Participant Education,” (Wealth Management, November 21, 2017)
Scant Withdrawals From DC Plans in First Half of Year,” (PLANADVISER, November 21, 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.
Millennials Are Focused on Achieving Financial Goals,” (PLANADVISER, November 17, 2017)
Retirement Planning: 3 Ways to Have a Happier Retirement,” (Money, November 17, 2017)
Hiring Older Workers Is Suddenly In Season,” (Forbes, November 17, 2017)
You’re probably not saving enough for retirement — and that’s OK,” (CNBC, November 18, 2017)
How to figure out the right time for retirement,” (Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2017)
4 Retirement Plan Freedoms for Which to be Thankful,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 19, 2017)
Want to retire early? Here’s a plan,” (CBS News, November 20, 2017)
This is the best city to retire,” (Fox Business, November 20, 2017)
5 retirement moves to make before New Year’s Day,” (BenefitsPRO, November 21, 2017)
What to Do With That 2 Percent Raise on Your Social Security Checks,” (US News, November 21, 2017)
Why You Shouldn’t Retire At 65,” (Bankrate, November 22, 2017)
More Americans Entering Retirement With Debt: NBER,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 22, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Ary Rosenbaum: How 401k Plan Sponsors Can Avoid Turning Their Plan Into A Disaster |
RetirementRevised: Final word on Social Security COLA and Medicare premiums for 2018 |
Data “Points”: A Thankful Thanksgiving |
Squared Away Blog: Thankful for Squared Away Readers |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: It Won’t Matter Until It Becomes Law |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Confirm what the auditor says |
Ary Rosenbaum: Plan Features And Services Aren’t A Fit For Every Plan Sponsor |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Are Retirement Plan Fee Disclosures Being Ignored? |
NAPA Net: October Saw Moderate Uptick in DC Plan Investor Trading |
NAPA Net: NYU Hit with Second Excessive Fee Suit |
Kiplinger: Investments That Should (And Shouldn’t) Go Into Your IRA |
NAPA Net: Another Participant Sues Wells Fargo 401k Fiduciaries |
NAPA Net: A Thankful Thanksgiving |
NAPA Net: How Employer Communication Strategies Can Improve Benefits Decisions |
Kiplinger: 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Retirement |
Morningstar: 4 Year-End Charitable Giving Strategies for Retirees |
NAPA Net: How the Fiduciary Regulation Will Impact Recordkeepers |
NAPA Net: Tax Bills Would Modify Section 162(m) Exec Comp Deduction, Other Provisions |
NAPA Net: ARA GAC Wins Big Concessions on 2017 Form 5500 |
NAPA Net: Consumers Hold Unfavorable View of Debt in Retirement |
Kiplinger: The Problem with Your ‘Magic’ Retirement Number |
The Motley Fool: How Much Will I Have When I Retire If I Max Out My 401k? |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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