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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/3/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/3/17
November 06
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:
If Retirement Pros Set Tax Policy Instead of Politicians, This is What We’d Get,” (, October 31, 2017) Congress may be zagging when common sense says it should be zigging. Or maybe not.

Compliance – And the Envelope Says…:
It was all a ruse! Contribution caps left unchanged! Meanwhile, other things have been tweaked, to the various degrees of dismay to those living in high tax states.
Godfather of auto-enrollment says reducing 401k deferrals ‘massively progressive’,” (BenefitsPRO, October 27, 2017) Richard Thaler spent an entire career outside the establishment only to become the establishment. Looks like he’s try to get out again.
Why Tax-Cut Trickery Over 401k Limits Won’t Fly,” (The 401(k) Specialist, October 27, 2017) If you didn’t like Justin Fox’s opinion piece in Bloomberg last week, you’ll get a kick out of this.
Limiting 401k tax-free contributions wouldn’t help debt,” (Yahoo, October 27, 2017) You’d think a business-oriented administration would know better than to adopt the faux-accounting principles that have plagued government budgeting and management. Maybe they have. Maybe that’s why Trump came out against manipulating 401k contribution caps. Maybe he didn’t really back down like the media seems to be reporting. Maybe, just maybe, this is a smoke and mirrors tactic to take eyes away from something that might really be controversial. It’s part of negotiating – they’re going to worry about something anyway, so give them something you can negotiate away.
Ted Benna, father of the 401k, thinks tax reform that favors Roths is ‘pretty stupid’,” (InvestmentNews, October 30, 2017) Welcome, everyone, to DeathMatch 2017! In one corner we have Ted “The Practitioner” Benna. In the other corner we have Richard “The Policy Wonk” Thaler. Which of these industry icon’s arguments has the strength to survive DeathMatch 2017?
The GOP’s 401k ideas raise a big question,” (CBS News, October 30, 2017) We’ll see if it does.
What Nobel Winner Thaler Thinks of 401k Cuts?” (The 401(k) Specialist, October 31, 2017) And the piling on continues.
IRS Ruling May Encourage Auto Enrollment in Governmental 457 Plans,” (PLANADVISER, October 31, 2017) This is a  good thing.
House tax chief says he plans to preserve 401k pretax limits,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, October 31, 2017) Was there ever any doubt.
Requiem for 2 heavyweights – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, November 1, 2017) It’s Benna vs. Thaler in a summary of the stories on them regarding their opposing positions on the retirement savings portion of the tax reform debate.
401k Contributions Appear Safe in Tax Reform Debate, For Now,” (PLANADVISER, November 2, 2017) For now. Those words are ominous.
GOP Tax Plan Spares 401k Plans, Targets IRA Plans, (ThinkAdvisor, November 2, 2017) More detail.
IRS, Treasury Priority Guidance Plan Includes Long-Awaited Regulations,” (PLANADVISER, November 2, 2017) Read it if you think you’re affected.

Fiduciary – There’s a Time-Out on the Field:
Unlike the NFL, the DOL apparently is permitted to call two time-outs in a row. Not that anyone’s counting.
FSI Supports A Best Interest Standard If SEC Controls Rulemaking, Enforcement,” (Financial Advisor, October 30, 2017) Notice how they refer to it as “best interest” and not “fiduciary.”
Growth in TDF Market Underscores Proprietary Product Debate,” (PLANADVISER, October 30, 2017) Oh, the tangled webs we weave, and the web woven into the typical TDF structure is the most tangled of all.
DOL and SEC Uniform Advice Standard May Not Be Far Off,” (PLANADVISER, October 31, 2017) The title says it all.
DOL Sends Fiduciary Rule Delay to OMB,” (Wealth Management, November 2, 2017) Who didn’t see this one coming.

Fees – A Note of Confidence:
If you have self-esteem issues, you place a lower value on your abilities. That can manifest itself by accepting jobs that pay you less than what you’re worth. Winners tend not to have self-esteem issues. Winners tend to charge more for their services.
Enough With Falling Fees,” (PLANADVISER, September/October 2017) It turns out some advisers value their service enough to stick to their fee schedule.

Investments – The Stocks Shall Rise Again:
Don’t touch that dial! The markets topped off at a new record again. That should make everyone happy.
Why This Target Date Trend Continues in 401ks,” (The 401(k) Specialist, October 31, 2017) The investment take on the fiduciary story above.
Equity Returns Boost Performance for Institutional Plan Sponsors,” (PLANADVISER, November 1, 2017) A rising tide floats all boats.

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.
Why Cash Balance Plans Make Sense for 401k Participants (and Advisors),” (The 401(k) Specialist, October 24, 2017)
Benefits Need to Be Communicated Year-Round,” (PLANADVISER, October 27, 2017)
More Retirement Plans Add Auto-Enrollment, Auto-Escalation Features,” (ThinkAdvisor, October 27, 2017)
How to address unique retirement benefit concerns of small businesses,” (Employee Benefit News, October 30, 2017)
Closing the Retirement Plan Contribution Gap,” (ThinkAdvisor, October 30, 2017)
5 steps to a successful year-end retirement plan checkup,” (Employee Benefit News, October 31, 2017)
7 disturbing findings about 401k, IRA plans,” (BenefitsPRO, October 31, 2017)
GOP Tax Reform Package Includes Some Important Retirement Adjustments,” (PLANADVISER, November 2, 2017)
The Value of Transparency in Participant-Level 401k Data,” (PLANADVISER, November 2, 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.
Consistency Key to Increasing 401k Plan Savings,” (PLANADVISER, October 27, 2017)
Retirement Saving Checklist: 15 Things to Know That Can Lead to Success,” (ThinkAdvisor, October 27,2017)
What the battle over 401k plans means for your retirement,” (CNBC, October 27, 2017)
How a $2,400 Cap on 401k Deductions Would Affect Your Savings,” (Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2017)
Ninety Percent of Americans Lack Confidence in Retirement Savings,” (PLANADVISER, October 30, 2017)
Singles, couples need different retirement planning,” (BenefitsPRO, October 30, 2017)
Will the ‘tax torpedo’ blow up your retirement?” (CNBC, October 30, 2017)
8 reasons why retirement scares rich people,” (BenefitsPRO, October 31, 2017)
5 Strategies To Help You Meet Your Retirement Goals (That Don’t Involve Saving More Money),” (Forbes, October 31, 2017)
Don’t overlook the ‘kiddie tax’ when it comes to IRA beneficiaries,” (MarketWatch, October 31, 2017)
Suze Orman Says Retirees Must Work Until They’re 70. Really?” (Money, November 1, 2017)
Americans Say Tax Reform Proposal Would Affect Their Savings,” (PLANADVISER, November 1, 2017)
How much you have to save per paycheck to retire by 50,” (CNBC, November 1, 2017)
401k Savings Rates Have Increased,” (PLANADVISER, November 2, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Squared Away Blog: Older Savers Inch Ahead: $135,000 in 401k |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Trump and the 401k Flip Flop |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Don’t ignore your clients and the fees they pay | If I Hear The Words “Retirement Readiness” Again, I Think I Might Lose My Sh*t |
Nerd’s Eye View: Why Is The Retiree Bankruptcy Rate So Low? |
Proskauer: ERISA’s Six-Year Statute of Repose for Fiduciary-Breach Claims Can Be Tolled |
Proskauer: No Standing To Pursue Fiduciary-Breach Claim Where Plan Became Overfunded During Litigation |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #68 |
Ary Rosenbaum: The Bottom Line For Retirement Plan Providers |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: The Moment of Truth: Will Tax Reform Include Rothification? |
NAPA Net: Judge Cites ‘Exceptional’ Result in Awarding $5.58 Million Attorney Fee |
Kiplinger: Maximizing Social Security Benefits |
NAPA Net: Plan Sponsors Adopting Higher Default Savings Rates |
NAPA Net: Tax Reform – ‘Tricks’ or Treat? |
NAPA Net: Younger and Experienced Investors Receptive to Actively Managed Products |
NAPA Net: OregonSaves Rules Updated |
Center for Retirement Research: 401k/IRA Holdings in 2016: An Update from the SCF |
Kiplinger: 4 Reasons to Hold a Retirement Dress Rehearsal |
The Motley Fool: One-Third of Americans Fear They’ll Never Repay Their Student Loans |
NAPA Net: House GOP Pushes Back Tax Reform Unveil |
NAPA Net: Senate Democrats to GOP: Hands Off Middle-Class Retirement Savings |
NAPA Net: FBI Raids, Shuts Down TPA |
NAPA Net: CA Secure Choice Retirement Savings Board Seeking Investment Consultant |
Kiplinger: To Build a Sturdy Financial House, Get a Plan |
The Motley Fool: How to Find Your Lost Retirement Benefits |
NAPA Net: 401k Plans OK in House GOP Tax Reform Bill |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Allocating Revenue Sharing Payments |
NAPA Net: Senate Panel Approves Peirce and Jackson as SEC Commissioners |
NAPA Net: IRS Expands Relief to Victims of Hurricanes, California Wildfires |
The Motley Fool: From REM to 401k: A Gen X Guide to Retirement Planning |
Kiplinger: How The 4 Percent Rule Can Lead Retirees Astray |
Morningstar: A Tax-Advantaged Way to Distribute Employer Stock From Retirement Plans |
NAPA Net: Tax Reform Update – A (Mostly) Good First Step |
NAPA Net: What Factors Are Fueling Fees? |
NAPA Net: Tax Reform Bill Contains (Other) Retirement Plan Changes |
NAPA Net: DOL Files Applicability Extension Proposal with OMB |

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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