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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/10/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/10/17
November 13
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:
Tax Reform Surprise: Congress Slips in 401k MEP Broadside,” (, November 7, 2017) For all the talk and concern about Congress cutting the contribution caps for 401k plan, the real news appears to be just the opposite. Sometimes, it’s better to wait for the final result rather than get worked up about what you think may happen.

Compliance – Horse Trading Stories:
Pretty much any reporting on the legislative process is built on innuendo and speculation. The press and the politicians use each. The press wants eyeballs. The politicians want to play some sort of overly complicated negotiating game. They’re happy with the relationship. The rest of us either grow more worried or more cynical.
Voluntary Roth 401k conversions could fund GOP tax cuts,” (MarketWatch, November 2, 2017) Well, they need to get their pound of flesh from somewhere.
3 ways Congress can meaningfully reform 401k plans,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, November 6, 2017) Same old, same old. Maybe Congress should bring on Ted Benna to re-write the code.
IRS Spells Out Plan Sponsor Requirements for Locating Missing Participants for RMDs,” (PLANADVISER, November 6, 2017) Interesting.
Time is now for 401k MEPs,” (BenefitsPro, November 8, 2017) Will Congress finally cross the finish line on this one?

Fiduciary – Maybe it’s not about Fiduciary After All:
It’s about the distinction between sales and advice.
OMB Reviews Second Fiduciary Rule Enforcement Delay,” (PLANADVISER, November 3, 2017) Is this the second or third time around? The fourth?
Is DOL Using A Back Door To The Kill Fiduciary Rule?” (Financial Advisor, November 3, 2017) Or did the industry make sure the Rule arrived DOA?
SEC and DOL Face Hurdles in Fiduciary Collaboration,” (PLANADVISER, November 6, 2017) Yes, true, but that shouldn’t be an excuse not to try.
Markets Need a Single, Official Definition of ‘Fiduciary’,” (Wealth Management, November 7, 2017) This has been said before in a much more comprehensive article: “‘Houston, the Fiduciary Has Landed.’ Where Does “Fiduciary” Go From Here?,” (, December 6, 2016).
District Court Grants Thrivent Injunction in Fiduciary Lawsuit Targeting DOL,” (PLANADVISER, November 8, 2017) This ruling is limited to the method of conflict resolution, meaning the DOL cannot mandate how the plaintiff to resolve disputes.
Inside Insight on Fiduciary Reform at Merrill Lynch and Beyond,” (PLANADVISER, November 8, 2017) Fiduciary Rule or not, Merrill Lynch is moving ahead with its 3(21) offering.
Tibergien’s Comments on RIAs Are Tough, but Deserve to Be Heard,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 8, 2017) It’s all about sales vs. advice and a lack of trust.

Fees – A Golden Silence:

Investments – This is What Happens at Market Tops:
When there’s a disparity between perceived returns and actual returns, the pros know its time to introduce a subjective concept to cover their tracks.
How Much Risk Can You Tolerate In Your Investments?” (Forbes, November 3, 2017) How many times do we have say it’s all about your Goal-Oriented Target – a objective measure – than your feelings about whatever you think “risk” is.
Wilshire Data Highlights Impressive Market Growth for Q3,” (PLANADVISER, November 9, 2017) And that’s good news.

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.
Fidelity Reports 401k Balances Reached a New High of $99,900 in 3Q17,” (PLANSPONSOR, November 3, 2017)
401k Balances Skyrocket, Hit New Highs,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 5, 2017)
Why Automating Retirement Savings May Not Be Enough,” (Psychology Today, November 6, 2017)
Excessive Fee Suit Against Northrop Grumman Gets Class Certification,” (PLANADVISER, November 6, 2017)
General Electric Faces Second 401k Plan Self-Dealing Lawsuit,” (PLANADVISER, November 6, 2017)
7 Disturbing Findings About 401k, IRA plan,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 6, 2017)
Court Rules ERISA Statute of Limitations Can Be Waived,” (PLANADVISER, November 7, 2017)
Major Cost Confusion Hampers Retirement Saving,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 7, 2017)
J.P. Morgan Agrees to Pay $75 Million to Settle ERISA Lawsuit,” (PLANADVISER, November 7, 2017)
Plan sponsors must meet end of the year obligations,” (Employee Benefit News, November 7, 2017)
Defined Contribution Plan Portal Design Trends,” (Wealth Management, November 7, 2017)
Church Pension Group Argues DB Bests DC,” (PLANADVISER, November 9, 2017)
Auto-Features in 401k Plans May Foster Delusions of Preparedness,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 10, 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.
5 Ways To Generate Different Sources Of Income,” (Forbes, November 2, 2017)
Early retirees share their top money-saving tip,” (CNBC, November 2, 2017)
6 signs clients are ready to retire early,” (Financial Planning, November 3, 2017)
The average millennial could be a millionaire in 31 years,” (CNBC, November 3, 2017)
Roth 401k plans offer several benefits in retirement,” (USA Today, November 4, 2017)
Top tips retirees wish they had known,” (Fox Business, November 6, 2017)
3 sunny places to retire on just a Social Security check,” (CNBC, November 6, 2017)
Starting to save for retirement, a few decades late,” (CBS News, November 6, 2017)
10 ways to beat financial obstacles in saving for retirement,” (BenefitsPRO, November 7, 2017)
7 Smart Money Moves to Make Before Year-End,” (Forbes, November 7, 2017)
Should you use a reverse mortgage in retirement?” (MarketWatch, November 7, 2017)
Why Retirement Plans Should Keep Working After Retirement,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 8, 2017)
80% of Millennials Want Professional 401k Advice: Schwab,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 8, 2017)
Younger and Older Investors Have Different Savings Goals,” (PLANADVISER, November 8, 2017)
401k and IRA balances reach record highs,” (Employee Benefit News, November 8, 2017)
Balancing Emotions With Concrete Actions Helps Achieve Retirement Goals,” (PLANADVISER, November 9, 2017)
An Easier Way To Pass Along Your Assets After You Die,” (Forbes, November 9, 2017)
Higher-Earners Benefit More From 401k Plans,” (PLANADVISER, November 9, 2017)
How this classic savings strategy could get you clobbered with taxes when you retire,” (MarketWatch, November 10, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs: Plan Sponsor and Plan Advisor – Marriage Counseling |
Business of Benefits: Mitigating Factors in Calculating a 403(b) Plan’s Maximum Payment Amount under CAP: “Inside Build-Up,” Partial Failures, and Non-Deductibility |
Data “Points”: Tax Reform – ‘Tricks’ or Treat? |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #69 |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Massachusetts proposes a MEP and why it’s a bad idea |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Watch for any Potential Conflicts of Interest |
The Retirement Plan Blog: Department of Labor targets retirement plans with missing participants |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: IRS Provides EP Examiners With Directions On Handling Missing Participants And Beneficiaries And Required Minimum Distributions |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Did Vantage Take Advantage? |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: No Deferral Cap, But Let’s Not Celebrate |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: IRS announces 2018 retirement plan limits |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
The Motley Fool: Your Teenager Should Have a Retirement Account. Here’s Why |
Kiplinger: 4 Ways Retirement Savers Can Help Reduce RMDs |
NAPA Net: Could Tax Reform Destroy Deferred Compensation? |
NAPA Net: Shifts in Provider Due Diligence? |
NAPA Net: Treats, Not Tricks, for Average 401k Balance in October |
Morningstar: A Year-End Checklist for Retirees |
Kiplinger: You Need to Take Control of Your Retirement Now |
NAPA Net: Thrivent Prevails in Fiduciary Rule Challenge – While the DOL Gets its Stay |
NAPA Net: Why an Average 401k Balance Doesn’t ‘Mean’ Much  |
NAPA Net: DOL Estimates 3 Weeks for OMB Review of Applicability Date Proposal |
NAPA Net: Guaranteed Investment Suit Against Stable Value Provider Dismissed |
Kiplinger: 9 Investment Risks You Need to Guard Against |
NAPA Net: Is Open Architecture the Answer for Target-Date Managers? |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: December 2017 Deadlines |
NAPA Net: Average 401k and IRA Balances Continue to Hit Record Highs |
NAPA Net: Survey Reveals Generational Differences in Approaches to Saving |
Morningstar: Are You in the Roth Conversion Zone? |
The Motley Fool: Even Wealthy Americans Are Worried About This Huge Retirement Expense |
NAPA Net: Hearing Set for EBSA Nominee |
NAPA Net: Don’t Be Fixated on the Wrong Target |
NAPA Net: Could Rothification Be Resurrected? |
NAPA Net: Settlement Struck in Stable Value Suit |
The Motley Fool: No 401k? No Problem. Here’s How to Make the Most of Your Savings |
Kiplinger: 4 Questions to Ask Before Buying an Annuity |
NAPA Net: Senate Tax Reform Proposal Caps Catch-Ups |
NAPA Net: Reader Poll: New Fiduciary Factors Driving Some Due Diligence Shifts |
NAPA Net: Some Good News – and Some Unwelcome Surprises – in Tax Reform Proposals |

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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