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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/15/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/15/17
December 18
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:
How Anchoring Hurts 401k Retirement Savers,” (, December 12, 2017) With the introduction of the concept of anchoring, Tversky and Kahneman opened the door to a new way of thinking about and addressing the financial decision-making process. For more than four decades, subsequent research has expanded upon their idea. Yet, plan sponsors and participants continue to remain uninformed of the dangers of anchoring.

Compliance – Changing World:
We’ll be going through some turbulence before things settle down.
Half Say They Would Save Less If Retirement Tax Incentives Were Reduced,” (PLANADVISER, December 12, 2017) Something Washington policy makers should probably look at.
Seattle Establishes Retirement Plan,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 13, 2017) The over-under on the first sealed indictment is 182 days.
Senate HELP Committee Advances EBSA Nominee Rutledge,” (PLANADVISER, December 14, 2017) Almost a year into the Trump administration and the Senate has still yet to confirm all key appointments.

Fiduciary – SEC as the Cavalry:
If you believe that, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.
SIFMA Sees SEC Fiduciary Rule Proposal Within 18 Months,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 12, 2017) Are we still talking about this? We thought the science was settled.

Fees – Things We Already Know:
Is it a sign of old age when there’s nothing new under the sun?
5 Retirement Fees You Should Never Pay,” (USA Today, December 11, 2017) Well, four out of five ain’t bad.
Small Company Workers Getting Shafted On 401k Fees, Study Says,” (Financial Advisor, December 13, 2017) Nothing too new here, but a very revealing breakdown of who’s charging the most for the bundled products most small firms are forced to use.

Investments – The Revenge of the Alts:
Because “Rise” sounds too corny.
Seventy Percent of Institutional Investors Use Alternative Asset Classes,” (PLANADVISER, December 11, 2017) If they included all “alternative” (i.e. non-mutual fund) investments the number would be closer to 100%. Here, they’re referring to non-standard asset classes (i.e., those other than stocks, bonds, or cash).
Boosted by Retirement Contributions, CIT Assets Approach $3 Trillion,” (PLANADVISER, December 11, 2017) And, as if on cue, here we have one of the most popular forms of alternative investments, the Collective Investment Trust (“CIT”).
Should you invest in bitcoins for retirement? Only if you think riding a roller coaster without a safety harness is a good idea,” (The Washington Post, December 11, 2017) The (rather long) title says it all.

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.
Fixing A Broken Retirement Withdrawal Plan,” (Financial Advisor, December 2017)
Settlement Ends Fujitsu Lawsuit Filed Over Plan Fees, Custom TDFs,” (PLANADVISER, December 8, 2017)
How Small-Business Owners Can Keep Good People: Offer Better Retirement Plans,” (Forbes, December 8, 2017)
Lawsuit Filed in Colorado District Court Shows Great-West Targeted by Fraud,” (PLANADVISER, December 8, 2017)
Plan sponsors seeking new advisors,” (BenefitsPRO, December 11, 2017)
Pass-Through Tax Reform Impact on Small Businesses May Be Mitigated via Roth,” (PLANADVISER, December 11, 2017)
CenturyLink sued for bad 401k advice,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, December 11, 2017)
A blueprint for reuniting orphaned 401k accounts with their owners,” (Employee Benefit News, December 14, 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.
Inherited IRAs, RMDs and Powers of Appointment,” (Wealth Management, December 6, 2017)
The Unsettling Truth About Women And Retirement, (Forbes, December 7, 2017)
Building a Solid Retirement Plan at 3 Income Levels,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 7, 2017)
Retirement crisis? Not for past retirees, but…,” (BenefitsPRO, December 8, 2017)
Robert Powell: Retirement planning tips for the end of the year,” (USA Today, December 8, 2017)
The case for moving to a retirement community,” (MarketWatch, December 10, 2017)
Rebuild your retirement savings,” (USA Today, December 11, 2017)
Understanding Retirement Income Modeling Assumptions,” (Wealth Management, December 11, 2017)
Many People Plan to Continue Working in Retirement,” (PLANADVISER, December 13, 2017)
How to avoid 10% penalty on early retirement account withdrawals to pay medical bills,” (MarketWatch, December 13, 2017)
Kitces: The faults of a popular retirement saving tool,” (Financial Planning, December 14, 2017)
Millennials Could Fare Worse in Retirement Than Older Generations,” (PLANADVISER, December 14, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Data “Points”: Familiar ‘Grounds’? |
Data “Points”: 4 Retirement Savings Benchmarks That (Generally) Miss the Mark |
Data “Points”: Is Your 401k Kinda Bullsh*t? |
Ary Rosenbaum: Retirement Plan Sponsors Can’t Afford To Be Cheap |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Another TPA joins Alliance Benefits Group |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: HUB enters the retirement plan space and it makes sense |
Business of Benefits: Spousal Consent/J&S Issues Under 403(b) Plans May Trigger Document Conflicts |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #73 |
Nerd’s Eye View: Proposed Pass-Through Rules Distort Large Service Businesses |
fi360: Behavioral Finance: How Participants Make Decisions |
RetirementRevised: New state retirement plans are welcome, but why so expensive? |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Settlement Struck in Excessive Fee Suit |
NAPA Net: Time to Stop Thinking of Millennials as Slackers |
Kiplinger: Defuse the Tax Bomb That Threatens Retirement | 4 Retirement Savings Moves to Make Before 2018 |
NAPA Net: PSCA Members Overwhelmingly Support Combination with American Retirement Association |
NAPA Net: ‘Making’ the Lists |
NAPA Net: Advisor-to-Advisor Advice: The Wholesaler Exception |
NAPA Net: Willis Towers Watson Offers 10 New Definitions for DC Plan Vocabulary |
Kiplinger: Income Plan Battles the Big 4 Retirement Risks |
Morningstar: Get a Tax-Smart Plan for In-Retirement Withdrawals |
NAPA Net: Roth Won’t Remedy ‘Pass-Through’ Problem |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Ownership and Spousal Attribution |
NAPA Net: Legislation Permitting E-Delivery of Plan Information Introduced |
Morningstar: Pros and Cons of Income-Generating Strategies in Retirement |
The Motley Fool: What’s the Least Painful Way to Get Out of a Bad Annuity? |
Kiplinger: 7 Ways to Travel More in Retirement |
NAPA Net: Senate HELP Committee OKs Rutledge as EBSA Head |
NAPA Net: Do Plan Participants Want a ‘Slight Nudge’ or a ‘Kick in the Pants’? |
NAPA Net: Institutional Investors Expect Only Modest Adjustments, Despite Anxieties |
NAPA Net: How 403(b)s Are Faring in the Higher Ed and Health Care Sectors |
Morningstar: When Retirement Bucket Portfolios Meet Multiple Retirement Accounts |
Kiplinger: 3 Big Tax-Planning Mistakes Retirees Often Make |
NAPA Net: Seattle Mayor Proposes Private-Sector Retirement Plan |
NAPA Net: Reader Poll: Some Provider Practices Problematic, But… |
NAPA Net: Survey Finds Matching Contributions Most Valued 401k Plan Feature |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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