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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 1/12/18 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 1/12/18
January 16
00:03 2018

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:
Retirement Pros Reveal Their Own Best Interests When It Comes to Their Retirement Plans,” (, January 9, 2018) Long-term investors like retirement savers can easily act like a fiduciary for their own assets. All they need to do is look in a mirror – but not for their own reflection. Look in a mirror a retirement professional is looking into and see how that reflection invests for retirement.

Compliance – A New Day Dawns:
The more people are getting to know the Tax Reform Act or 2017, the more people are getting to like it. These articles are just a taste. Go to the plan sponsor section to see more.
What Now? 401ks in the Wake of Tax Reform,” (The 401(k) Specialist, January 8, 2018) Interesting thoughts, worth the read.
2018 401k, IRA, HSA contribution limits cheat sheet,” (BenefitsPRO, January 12, 2018) The art of saving expands.

Fiduciary – A New En”Title”ment?:
Just when you thought the SEC couldn’t get anymore interesting, it does. Could it be the SEC plans to trump the DOL by going straight for the fiduciary jugular? Conflict-of-Interest, you see, were merely the symptom, not the disease. The DOL, in targeting conflicts-of-interest, may have therefore misfired when it came to the broader problem. That broader problem, as has been pointed out many times, deals directly with leveling the playing field. This comes down to SEC Registered Investment Advisers being held under fiduciary scrutiny while broker advisors are not. What a difference a vowel makes. It allows a sales standard to preempt an advice standard. The SEC can change that, without changing any of the existing rules. They had it in their power all along.
AARP wants prospective clients to put advisors on the record,” (Financial Planning, January 4, 2018) AARP joins industry thought leaders in advocating that clients get any service provider offering investment advice to agree to serve as a fiduciary.
Great fiduciaries must meet the empathy challenge – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, January 10, 2018) For financial professionals, having empathy for clients is not as simple as practicing what you preach. It’s about following the advice of Sun Tzu.
CFA Institute Proposes Preliminary SEC Solution on Fiduciary Standard,” (Wealth Management, January 10, 2018) It’s all about zeroing in on the use of titles. It’s about time.
Why SEC Fiduciary Rule Reg Sounds Right,” (The 401(k) Specialist, January 10, 2018) In praise of “titular” preeminence.
SEC Planning Best-Interest Standard For Brokers In 2nd Quarter,” (ThinkAdvisor, January 11, 2018) Promises, promises.
With SEC Move Pending, New York Joins Other States Making Fiduciary Reforms,” (PLANADVISER, January 11, 2018) Will a “patchwork” of state-sponsored initiatives based on “real and perceived” conflicts help or hinder the cause?
Fiduciary Advisors Ask SEC To Ban Brokers From Calling Themselves ‘Advisors’,” (Financial Advisor, January 12, 2018) Boom! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!

Fees – Low Not In One’s Best Interest?:
OK, this time we’ll give the DOL credit where credit is due. The DOL said precisely this when it came out with its 401k Mutual Fund Fee Disclosure Rule in 2012. Everyone ignored it. Maybe now they won’t.
Liquidity Fees and the Fiduciary Duty of Best Execution,” (PLANADVISER, January 5, 2018) Here again we discover it’s not all about fees and sometimes the low fee is not in the client’s best interest.

Investments – The Risk Mirage:
For this one, we’ll let the words (as in the articles) do the talking. “Risk” was a great concept when it was limited to the classroom blackboard (the fact it was on a blackboard tells you how old the concept is). In the real world, though, it has been morphed into a “measurable” factoid used to circumvent real needs. That’s been a disservice to investors for more than a generation. But it has lined the pockets of many a slick salesman.
When Risk Tolerance and the ‘Right’ 401k Allocations Collide,” (The 401(k) Specialist, January 5, 2018) Very much on point. Readers who find this article interesting might want to read “Should 401k Plan Sponsors Ban Risk Tolerance Questionnaires?” (, August 13, 2013) or “Goal-Oriented Target: How Leading Advisers and 401k Plan Sponsors are Using this New System to Replace Outdated Modern Portfolio Theory Risk Tools,” (FiduciaryNews,com, August 1, 2017) or the five-part series beginning with “7 Deadly Sins Every ERISA Fiduciary Must Avoid: The 2nd Deadly Sin – The Joy of “Risk”,” (, August 16, 2011).
How to best understand target date fund options,” (Employee Benefit News, January 9, 2018) Yet another voice ways in.

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.
Cybersecurity and Benefit Plans,” (PLANADVISER, November/December 2017)
Another Company Cites Tax Bill in 401k Match Bump,” (The 401(k) Specialist, January 4, 2018)
What’s at the Top of 401k Plan Sponsors’ To-Do Lists?” (The 401(k) Specialist, January 4, 2018)
With Participation Rates Flat, Some NQDC Plan Sponsors to Make Changes,” (PLANADVISER, January 5, 2018)
Major Problem Reported with 401k Auto Enrollment,” (The 401(k) Specialist, January 5, 2018)
SunTrust ups 401k retirement match, minimum raise,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, January 7, 2018)
Aflac doubles 401k match, adds employer-sponsored hospital indemnity plan,” (Employee Benefit News, January 7, 2018)
How to turn your retirement plan into a millennial magnet,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, January 8, 2018)
Provisions of Tax Reform Could Affect DB Plan Sponsor Strategies,” (PLANADVISER, January 8, 2018)
Tax reform prompts Visa to raise 401k match for employees,” (CNBC, January 8, 2018)
Visa boosts 401k match,” (Employee Benefit News, January 9, 2018)
3 Ways to Improve Retirement Plan Returns,” (ThinkAdvisor, January 9, 2018)
Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal of Lawsuit Against Eaton,” (PLANADVISER, January 9, 2018)
How to measure retirement plan success,” (Employee Benefit News, January 9, 2018)
11 Retirement Plan Trends Happening Now,” (The 401(k) Specialist, January 9, 2018)
6 retirement industry trends to monitor,” (BenefitsPRO, January 10, 2018)
Advising DC Plan Sponsors on Rising Rates,” (Wealth Management, January 10, 2018)
3 ways employers can make their retirement plan more attractive in 2018,” (Employee Benefit News, January 10, 2018)
THE ANCHOR LEG OF THE DC PLAN: Helping Participants Finish Strong with a ‘Retirement Tier’,” (The 401(k) Specialist, January 10, 2018)
3 ways employers can make their retirement plan more attractive in 2018,” (Employee Benefit News, January 10, 2018)
Visa adds to list of sponsors increasing 401k match after tax reform,” (BenefitsPRO, January 10, 2018)
5 compliance resolutions for plan sponsors in 2018,” (Employee Benefit News, January 11, 2018)
Drinker Biddle: Tax Cuts Alter Loan Offset Rollover Requirements and More,” (PLANADVISER, January 11, 2018)
The most common 401k obstacles — and how employers can fix them,” (Employee Benefit News, January 12, 2018)

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.
How to Use RMDs to a Client’s Advantage: Morningstar’s Benz,” (ThinkAdviser, January 8, 2018)
Early retirement aligns with early death, study finds,” (BenefitsPRO, January 8, 2018)
How to generate the income you need in retirement,” (MarketWatch, January 9, 2018)
Fewer at Risk for Having Inadequate Income in Retirement,” (PLANADVISER, January 9, 2018)
The Most Destructive 401k Behavioral Bias,” (The 401(k) Specialist, January 9, 2018)
The great Social Security benefits debate: Take it early or wait?” (The Washington Post, January 9, 2018)
What You Don’t Know (But Should) About Your Thrift Savings Plan,” (Forbes, January 9, 2018)
5 ways life could change for retirees in 2018,” (MarketWatch, January 9, 2018)
Debt Causing Financial Vulnerability for Pre-Retirees,” (PLANADVISER, January 10, 2018)
Are you ready for a ‘self-directed’ IRA?” (CBS News, January 10, 2018)
37% of Gen X say they won’t be able to afford to retire,” (USA Today, January 10, 2018)
‘Retirement Risk’ Down for American Households, But …,” (The 401(k) Specialist, January 11, 2018)
When Student Debt Erodes Retirement Savings,” (Financial Advisor, January 11, 2018)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Retirement Plan Blog: New tax law provides additional breathing room for repayment of retirement plan loans |
Ary Rosenbaum: Retirement Plan Advisors Advantage |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Thinking outside the box for marketing |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Tax reform will affect 401k deferrals |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: 2017 was a banner year for 401k plans |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Class action lawsuit isn’t the only fear |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #76 |
Squared Away Blog: Earnings Gap Hits Mom’s Social Security |
Ary Rosenbaum: Things That Plan Providers Don’t Tell You as a 401k Plan Sponsor |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
The Motley Fool: Immediate vs. Deferred Annuity: Which is Best for You? |
Kiplinger: Retirees, Break Free From Low Yields |
Morningstar: When an HSA-First Strategy Makes Sense |
NAPA Net: Change in VCP Fee Structure Bumps Up Fees for Smaller Plans |
NAPA Net: Dispelling a Mistaken Belief About the Fiduciary Regulation  |
NAPA Net: Debt ‘Limits’ – Causation, Correlation or Coincidence? |
NAPA Net: Tax Reform Fuels More 401k Contributions  |
NAPA Net: Project Seeks to Expand Cyberattack Support for Retirement Plan Data  |
Kiplinger: A Guide for Widows and the People Near to Them |
The Motley Fool: The Super-Easy Retirement Investing Plan |
NAPA Net: ‘Composite’ Solution for Multiemployer Plans in the Works |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Merging 403(b) and 401k Plans  |
Morningstar: Retirees: What You Should Watch in 2018 |
The Motley Fool: Have You Heard of the 4% Rule? Most Americans Haven’t |
NAPA Net: Bill to Create Missouri Secure Choice Savings Program Introduced  |
Kiplinger: Annuities: To Buy or Not to Buy? |
The Motley Fool: 3 Reasons to Claim Social Security Early |
NAPA Net: HP Wins (Again) in Stock Drop Suit  |
NAPA Net: Average IRA Balance for Consistent Account Owners up Nearly 50% Since 2010  |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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