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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/1/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/1/17
December 04
00:04 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:
5 Awkward 401k Questions Every Good Fiduciary Must Know the Answer To,” (, November 28, 2017) “Never belittle the question or the person asking the question. These are sincere queries that represent commonly held beliefs. These beliefs live a Schrodinger Cat-like existence, being generally not quite true and not quite false. It’s critical, for the benefit of all retirement savers, that these questions be asked and that fiduciaries encourage their asking. This is the only way that allows the fiduciary to respond in the second noteworthy way: By using these questions to refute misconceptions and promote good retirement saving decision-making.”

Compliance – A New Way of Thinking:
Insanity is defined by trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It’s, refreshing, then, to see folks talking about new ideas and new ways of thinking.
Solving the Social Security Shortfall,” (Wealth Management, November 22, 2017) Here are some of the winning suggestions from a recent AARP Contest.
Policy Proposals Made by Morningstar Include Open MEPs, Auto-IRAs,” (PLANADVISER, November 29, 2017) Could it be that Morningstar read this article: “Time is now for 401k MEPs,” (BenefitsPro, November 8, 2017)?

Fiduciary – Delay of Game:
We are about the enter a limbo where imaginations rule. Or at least until the first court action.
The Courts Differ on Vicarious Liability,” (PLANADVISER, October 2017) Bottom-line: It’s better to be safe than sorry.
DOL Officially Delays Start of Fiduciary Rule,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 27, 2017) There. That was easy.
Ron Rhoades Sees Grim Fiduciary Rule Future,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 28, 2017) Ron expects a watered-down version. He’s not alone.
5 New Facts on DOL’s Fiduciary Rule Delay,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 28, 2017) Here’s one point of view of what’s going on.
Fiduciary Primer Quiz Reveals Knowledge, Process Shortcomings,” (PLANADVISER, November 30, 2017)
Despite Delays and Legal Challenges, DOL Rule Becoming Law Of The Land,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 1, 2017) But what kind of law will it be?

Fees – Speaking of Limbo…:
Are fees bad? Are fees good? Are they both good and bad? It’s getting so confusing. Why don’t we just start all over again.
Enough With Falling Fees,” (PLANADVISER, September /October 2017) Advisers realize they are not commodities and are holding the line on fees.
401k Excessive Fee, Self-Dealing Suit Filed Against Wells Fargo,” (PLANADVISER, November 22, 2017) On the other hand, conflict-of-interest fees, no matter how high or low, are not a good thing.
Risks Lurk in DOL Rule Exemption for ‘Clean Shares’,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 1, 2017) It all depends on what the definition of “clean” is.

Investments – Keep Moving Ahead, But Not Too Far Ahead:
It’s good to get away from some of the tired ways of thinking (see Compliance above), and its healthy to do if you want to move forward. There’s only one problem – moving too far ahead and embracing something that sounds good only because it’s new. We’ve seen what happens. Tulips. Real estate. Baseball cards. And now, what? Bitcoin?
Peer pressure can lead to poor investment decisions,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, November 27, 2017) Yeah, we already knew this.
Kitces: Modern portfolio theory or goals-based planning,” (Financial Planning, November 29, 2017) Michael Kitces does an excellent job presenting an overview of investment theories and their resultant strategies.
Should bitcoin finance your retirement?” (BenefitsPRO, November 29, 2017) Why not? Future investors need lessons to learn from.
Top 5 advisor-recommended TDFs in 401k plans,” (BenefitsPRO, November 29, 2017) Purely for comparison sake.

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.
Getting Retirement Ready,” (PLANADVISER, September/October 2017)
2017 a Light Year for Required Plan Amendments,” (PLANADVISER, November 22, 2017)
How DC Plan Participants Behaved in First Half of 2017: ICI,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 27, 2017)
Cash balance plans growing in popularity,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, November 27, 2017)
What the New Form 5500 Means for 401k Advisors,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 27, 2017)
UPMC Wins in Top-Hat Anti-Cutback Lawsuit Appeal,” (PLANADVISER, November 28, 2017)
Judge Grants Class Certification in Citigroup Proprietary Fund Suit,” (PLANADVISER, November 28, 2017)
401k participants say the darnedest things – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, November 29, 2017)
Data Shows Sidecar Savings Accounts Could Support DC Plan Success,” (PLANADVISER, November 29, 2017)
It’s ‘gibberish’! Justices throw up their hands in dispute over state securities class actions,” (BenefitsPRO, November 29, 2017)
How to help 401k participants become better investors,” (Employee Benefit News, November 29, 2017)
Despite Wanting Help, Many Employees Balk at Targeted Messages,” (PLANADVISER, November 29, 2017)
Benefits plan administrators: Beware of compliance pitfalls,” (BenefitsPRO, November 29, 2017)
Is it time to offer financial education as a benefit?” (Employee Benefit Adviser, December 1, 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.
9 best European retirement destinations, ” (CNBC, November 23, 2017)
A harsh financial reality facing retirees,” (CBS News, November 24, 2017)
Retirement: People are downsizing their goals to fit reality,” (USA Today, November 26, 2017)
How Owning a Home Can Help (or Hinder) Your Retirement,” (US News, November 27, 2017)
Health-care costs in retirement can top $275,000,” (CNBC, November 27, 2017)
Should We All Just Work Longer?” (ThinkAdvisor, November 28, 2017)
A Quick Lesson on RMDs,” (Wealth Management, November 29, 2017)
How To Stop Your Grown Kids From Ruining Your Retirement,” (Forbes, November 29, 2017)
Older women will soon rule the world, MIT professor says,” (MarketWatch, December 1, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Proskauer’s ERISA Practice Center Blog: Department of Labor Finalizes 18-Month Delay of Fiduciary Rule Exemptions |
The Retirement Plan Blog: “Decumulation”: It’s here now for individuals approaching retirement |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #71 |
Scholarly Financial Planner: Advisers Face Perils When Firms Tell Them to Ignore the DOL Fiduciary Rule |
RetirementRevised: Don’t forget to add RMDs to your yearend checklist |
Squared Away Blog: Boomers’ Mortgage Debt Predicament |
Nerd’ Eye View: Financial Planning As An Advisory Firm Employee Benefit |
The Retirement Plan Blog: Still time to set up a retirement plan for 2017 |
Ary Rosenbaum: How A Plan Provider Should Handle Employees |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: DOL kicks fiduciary rule enforcement until 2019 |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Are You/Your Clients ‘Hacked’ about Cybersecurity? |
NAPA Net: Tax Reform: Focus Turns to Senate in Final Push |
NAPA Net: Senate Bill Would Create Pension Rehabilitation Trust Fund, New Agency |
The Motley Fool: Attention, Seniors: Here’s One Mistake You Can’t Afford to Make in 2017 |
NAPA Net: Finalized: 18-Month Extension of Fiduciary Rule’s Transition Period |
NAPA Net: Familiar ‘Grounds’? |
NAPA Net: Institutional Investment Management Fees Held Steady in 2016 |
NAPA Net: Dwindling Retirement Funds? Maybe Not |
The Motley Fool: 61% of Retirement Savers Are Making This Costly Mistake – Are You? |
Morningstar: Rebalancing: The Swiss Army Knife in Your Retirement Tool Kit |
Kiplinger: The Bitcoin IRA: 5 Essential Facts You Need to Know |
NAPA Net: House Bill Would Bump Up Cashout Limit |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Taxability of IRA Conversions |
NAPA Net: Nearly All DC Plan Participants Continued Contributing in First Half of 2017 |
NAPA Net: Tax Reform Takes a Turn in the Senate |
NAPA Net: Who Are Uncovered Workers, and Why Should We Care About Them? |
NAPA Net: Have Americans Forgotten About the Financial Crisis? |
Morningstar: Wealth Managers not off Hook After Fiduciary Rule Delay |
Kiplinger: Fee-Based Annuities May Not Be Your Best Bet |
The Motley Fool: Should Retirees Avoid the Stock Market? |
NAPA Net: Additional Changes Possible for Senate Tax Reform Legislation |
NAPA Net: Markets Move Average 401k Balances (Even) Higher in November |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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