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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/8/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/8/17
December 11
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:
Will Record Breaking Market be the Anchor that Sinks 401k Savers?” (, December 5, 2017) With a GOT-based strategy, expectations are predicated on needs, not the happenstance of the market. GOT-based portfolios may not have the record-breaking excitement of market indices, but it’s slow-and-steady-wins-the-race philosophy may lead to a more comfortable retirement.

Compliance – Practical Discussions:
After the tax bill debate, we have moved from the policy to the practical.
Ways and Means Democrat Introduces Long-Shot Bill Expanding MEPs,” (PLANADVISER, December 1, 2017) We don’t usually put articles on proposed legislation, but MEPs are worth it.
Flailing multiemployer pension plans need ‘tens of billions’ in cash,” (BenefitsPRO, December 1, 2017) More bad news for pension Ponzis.
Social Security: Is it really in danger of collapse?” (USA Today, December 3, 2017) Anser: Yes, and no. And maybe. But, really, you’ll never know. It’s clearly headed towards not fulfilling its promise, unless Congress decides to increase payroll taxes, like they did in 1983. But, like 1983, that’s just kicking the can down the road.
New tax bill: No more Roth IRA do-overs,” (Financial Planning, December 4, 2017) At least as the bill stands right now.
Inherited IRAs, RMDs and Powers of Appointment,” (Wealth Management, December 6, 2017) Some interesting tidbits for those inclined towards IRAs.
America’s Retirement System Is Too Inconsistent,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 6, 2017) To paraphrase Ben Franklin, “It’s a retirement, if you can keep it.” In other words, America is the worst place for retirement, except for all the others, (to paraphrase Churchill). If you’re willing to do what it takes, anybody and everybody can retire in comfort. The trouble is, if you’re not willing to do what it takes, there’s no knight in shining armor (i.e., the government) to step in and save you from your indiscretions. But is that a bad thing? Or an honest thing? A nation predicated on and built by self-responsible individuals is a nation that continually grows from one generation to the next. A nation that always provides safety nets for irresponsible individuals is a dying nation.
IRS Issues 2017 Required Amendments List,” (PLANADVISER, December 7, 2017) Another laundry list for all you good folks.

Fiduciary – Wither ‘Fiduciary’?:
It seems like only yesterday no one cared to know about “fiduciary.” Could it be we’ve talked so much about the word that it has jumped the shark?
Why It’s So Easy to Steal 401k Plan Assets,” (The 401(k) Specialist, November 30, 2017) Ary Rosenbaum gives the insider’s view.
401k Rollovers Roll On, Despite Fiduciary Rule,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 4, 2017) Probably because it’s in their best interest to do so.
Sponsors’ Fiduciary Awareness Deteriorating,” (PLANADVISER, December 5, 2017) It’s possible this might be the downside of all the publicity surrounding the DOL’s “Fiduciary” Rule. While the focus of that Rule has been on financial service providers, many have forgotten that, to date, most of the court rulings involving fiduciary breaches have involved only the plan sponsor, and only rarely the financial provider. Granted many of those plan sponsors are, indeed, financial service providers, but the breach dealt with their role as plan sponsors for their own company plans.
‘Phase 2’ of DOL Rule Is Dead: Brian Hamburger,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 6, 2017) The longer something stays in limbo, the less likely it will come to fruition, says, Hamburger. On the other hand, what the DOL has deferred, the SEC appears to be willing to take up. That’s a switch in roles.
Aguilar, TD’s Schweiss Discuss How an SEC Fiduciary Rule Could Work,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 8, 2017) Some more food for thought.

Fees – A Growing Understanding of the Truth:
Sometimes you get what you pay for. That’s a good thing if you pay above average, a bad thing if you pay below average.
Looking Beyond the Expense Ratio,” (Wealth Management, December 6, 2017) This article refers to ETFs. If you want to see a similar article on mutual funds, read “A 401k Must Read: Mutual Fund Expense Ratio Myth Busted,”, October 9, 2012).

Investments – Across the Spectrum:
Isn’t it fun to again talk about everything across the vast array of choices for investments, from the most dull to the most speculative?
Want to have bitcoin in your retirement account? Read this first,” (MarketWatch, December 1, 2017) Because tulips turned out to be such a good investment.
4 Ways To Create Steady Retirement Income,” (Forbes, December 4, 2017) Not a recommendation, but a laundry list.
Stable value funds: the retirement product that’s stood the test of time,” (BenefitsPRO, December 4, 2017) The article outlines three benefits from old reliable.

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.
The Latest Targets of 401k Fee Lawsuits Are…,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 1, 2017)
Excessive Fee Suit Filed Against Multiemployer Plan,” (PLANADVISER, December 4, 2017)
6 things employees might not know about retirement,” (BenefitsPRO, December 4, 2017)
Plaintiffs Ask Court Not to Approve J.P. Morgan Stable Value Suit Settlement,” (PLANADVISER, December 4, 2017)
Lower taxes for S-Corp owners may make them rethink 401k offerings,” (BenefitsPRO, December 5, 2017)
CenturyLink Sued by Plan Participants Over Large Cap Stock Fund Construction,” (PLANADVISER, December 6, 2017)
How a magician’s secret can help retirement savers succeed – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, December 6, 2017)
Court Finds Sponsor Cannot Fully Delegate ERISA Fiduciary Responsibilities,” (PLANADVISER, December 6, 2017)
DOL Rule Provides Tailwind for Adoption of Outsourced Fiduciary Services,” (PLANADVISER, December 7, 2017)
Done right, retirement plans can meet employee needs & yours, too,” (BenefitsPRO, December 7, 2017)
Redefining Defined Contribution Plans,” (PLANADVISER, December 7, 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.
Here’s how to roll over your 401k,” (CNBC, November 30, 2017)
Recession Has Had a Major Influence on Millennials,” (PLANADVISER, December 1, 2017)
How ‘Great Recession’ Shaped Retirement Savings Behavior,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 1, 2017)
How to avoid outliving your retirement savings,” (Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2017)
More Than One-Third of U.S. Households Own IRAs,” (PLANADVISER, December 4, 2017)
We’ve Arrived! Trump Tweets About 401k Balances,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 4, 2017)
What’s the largest Social Security retirement check someone can get?” (The Washington Post, December 4, 2017)
How to keep grown kids from ruining your future retirement,” (BenefitsPRO, December 5, 2017)
Quieting The Noise Around Retirement,” (Forbes, December 5, 2017)
Americans’ Nest Eggs Have Never Been Bigger,” (Bloomberg, December 5, 2017)
Boomers Find Retirement More Fulfilling Than They Envisioned,” (PLANADVISER, December 6, 2017)
Supporting Adult Children Could Cost You $227K In Retirement,” (Forbes, December 6, 2017)
Health care, travel and taxes can be unexpected retiree budget busters,” (CNBC, December 6, 2017)
Individuals Expect to Take Increased Role in Retirement Savings,” (PLANADVISER, December 7, 2017)
Tech is taking over our lives, and our 401k accounts,” (San Francisco Chronicle, December 8, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Retirement Plan Blog: Will 2017 Form 5500 reveal outdated fidelity bonds or none at all? |
ERISA Lawyer Blog: Third Circuit Rules That A Finding That The Plan Participants Have Bargaining Power As To Their Benefits Is Not A Requisite For Characterizing The Plan As Top-Hat |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #72 |
Nerd’s Eye View: Strategies To Reduce Or Delay RMD Mandatory Withdrawals |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: The Problem With Multiple Loans |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Don’t give it away for free |
Behavior Gap: Ouch, that fence was electric! |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Senate Approves Broad-Based Tax Reform Legislation |
NAPA Net: What’s Your Take on Tax Reform? |
NAPA Net: Comprehensive Retirement Simplification, Auto 401k Legislation Introduced |
NAPA Net: Recordkeepers, Financial Wellness and the Fiduciary Rule |
Kiplinger: Your Social Security Can Make or Break Your Plan |
NAPA Net: Importance of IRAs, Rollovers Growing |
NAPA Net: Is Your 401k Kinda Bullsh*t? |
NAPA Net: Is Lack of Confidence Affecting Single Women’s Savings Habits? |
NAPA Net: Teamsters Plan Draws Excessive Fee Suit |
The Motley Fool: 4 Smart Social Security Moves to Make Before the End of the Year |
NAPA Net: Participant Alleges Design Flaw in Proprietary Fund Suit |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Life Insurance in Qualified Plans |
NAPA Net: Participants Favor Preserving Small Balances Via Auto Portability  |
NAPA Net: Plan Sponsor Adoption of Auto Features Continues to Grow |
Kiplinger: Planning for Retirement: Do You Have a Winning Hand? |
Morningstar: 2018 Won’t Be a Fizzy Year for COLAs After All |
NAPA Net: Tax Reform Proposal Undermines Small Business Workers’ Retirement – We Need Your Help! |
NAPA Net: Health and Retirement Savings Incentives Top Tax Benefits for Americans |
NAPA Net: Trump Tweet Touts 401k Plans |
Kiplinger: 5 Things to Consider Before Taking Social Security |
Morningstar: Fixing Small-Company 401k Plans |
NAPA Net: Fraud Scheme Targeting 401k Accounts Uncovered |
NAPA Net: Reader Poll: Consensus on Tax Reform Timing – Impact, Not So Much |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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