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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/29/17 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/29/17
January 02
00:02 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:
Top 5 Stories in 2017 for the 401k Plan Sponsor and Fiduciary,” (, December 27, 2017) Here’s the countdown you’ve been waiting for. Why do you think these particular stories were so widely read? What does that fact tell you about the interests of plan sponsors, their service providers, and retirement industry regulators? The articles that caught the greatest interest may indicate not only answers people seek but future directions they intend to go. Let’s take a look.

Compliance – Wait!! What?:
Would you ask an elementary school student for advice on how to design a high school syllabus rather than a high schooler? Would you think the best person to explain the rich cultural heritage of the familial communities of Southern Italy would be an average everyday citizen of Lithuania rather than a citizen of Southern Italy? What’s best for one group of people might not work for another group of people – and vice versa. Remember that when you read…
What Makes the U.S. Retirement System a Bad Example,” (Bloomberg, December 28, 2017) This is why you never get an opinion on your 401k from a foreign “pension expert.”

Fiduciary – Dante has a Place for These People:
When Andrew Cuomo says he wants his administration to oversee what’s in the “best interests” of retirement industry customers, you have to wonder what he’s down within his own glass house to merit the credibility to throw rocks at others. The scandal-plagued administration has recently been placed under the watchful eye of the FBI, too. It kinda makes you wonder what it means by “best interest” when it so freely bandies about the word “suitable” as if it means the same as “best interest.” Forget the Capital One slogan “What’s in Your Wallet,” with Albany it’s more like “Who’s in Your Wallet.”
All Eyes on Uniform Fiduciary Rule, but Skeptics Abound,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 27, 2017) Will the SEC or won’t the SEC?
Amid fiduciary delay, New York proposes ‘best interest’ rules,” (Financial Planning, December 28, 2017) And if you believe that, they’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn they’d be more than happy to sell you. Seriously. They literally said they don’t want reps selling products that are suitable for their firm, they only want products that are “suitable” for clients. Yep. They used that word. And who do you think drafted that language?

Fees – Stay Tuned:
Page Under Construction

Investments – The Going (and Coming) Fad:
If Bitcoin replaced the TDF, what will replace Botcoin?
Why you shouldn’t add Bitcoin to your retirement portfolio,” (CNN, December 20, 2017) Because you wouldn’t gamble away your life savings at any other casino, would you?
Are Target Date Funds Missing the Mark?” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 22, 2017) Some of the problems are systemic (sequence of returns risk) and some are fund-specific (use of proprietary underlying funds).
Some TDFs Allow Managers to Tactically Allocate Assets,” (PLANADVISER, December 26, 2017) Yet another reason to be suspicious.

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.
Aggressive Plan Design,” (PLANADVISER, December 2017)
ERISA Litigation Landmarks Set the Stage for 2018,” (PLANADVISER, December 22, 2017)
Delta Air Line’s excessive fee ERISA lawsuit dropped,” (Employee Benefit News, December 25, 2017)
‘Missing’ 401k Participants Get Some Serious Help,” (The 401(k) Specialist, December 26, 2017)
Why I wasn’t surprised this was the most-read story of 2017 – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO , December 27, 2017)
10 (soft) predictions for retirement in 2018,” (BenefitsPRO, December 27, 2017)
Splitting Up DB Plans Can Reduce PBGC Premiums,” (PLANADVISER, December 27, 2017)
Great-West Prevails in Suit Over Stable Value Fund,” (PLANADVISER, December 28, 2017)
Military’s new ‘blended’ retirement system launches January 1,” (BenefitsPRO, December 28, 2017)
Aflac doubles 401k match after tax overhaul,” (BenefitsPRO, December 28, 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.
Retirement nest egg: Millennials can exit the workforce by 50,” (Fox Business, December 20, 2017)
There’s a Hole in the Retirement Bucket Strategy,” (ThinkAdviser, December 20, 2017)
Could your retirement savings go further on a cruise ship rather than assisted living?” (BenefitsPRO, December 21, 2017)
How 3 Generations Prepare for Retirement,” (ThinkAdviser, December 21, 2017)
How to balance using retirement savings wisely with enjoying what you’ve earned,” (Los Angeles Times, December 24, 2017)
How to find part-time work to boost your retirement,” (MarketWatch, December 26, 2017)
Missing this key retirement deadline could trigger a 50% tax penalty,” (CNBC, December 26, 2017)
This year-end donation strategy could reap big savings for retirees,” (CNBC, December 27, 2017)
Here’s a retirement-plan choice you won’t have after 2017,” (MarketWatch, December 27, 2017)
Court Decision Provides Lessons for What Constitutes a QDRO,” (PLANADVISER, December 27, 2017)
Are you a retirement phobic?” (FederalNewsRadio, December 28, 2017)
Five Things Men Need To Know About Marriage In Retirement,” (Forbes, December 28, 2017)
The widow or widower’s guide to Social Security benefits,” (USA Today, December 28, 2017)
Workers Regret Not Saving More for Retirement: Study,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 29, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Nerd’s Eye View: Are Broker-Dealers Drowning In Their Own Compliance Standards? |
Proskauer’s ERISA Blog: Plaintiffs Lack Standing to Bring ERISA Fee Litigation Case |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
The Motley Fool: Why You’ll Need More Retirement Savings Than You Think (and What to Do About It) |
NAPA Net: Senate Confirms Rutledge, SEC Commissioners |
NAPA Net: A List of 10 ‘Best of’ Lists |
NAPA Net: PBGC’s Missing Participant Program Expanding to Terminated 401k Plans |
Morningstar: The One Form That IRA Holders Should Scrutinize |
The Motley Fool: 3 Money Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Retirement |
NAPA Net: House Approves Retirement Plan Tax Relief for California Wildfire Victims |
NAPA Net: IRAs, SEPs, SIMPLEs and Qualified Charitable Distributions |
NAPA Net: Great-West Wins Stable Value Suit |
The Motley Fool: 4 Proven Ways to Boost Your Retirement Income |
Kiplinger: 5 Hidden Risks to Your Retirement Security |
NAPA Net: WSJ Analysis Finds Forged Comments on Fiduciary Regulation |
NAPA Net: Projected Retirement Health Expenses Rise – Again |
NAPA Net: Princeton Prevails in Stay of 403(b) Suit |
The Motley Fool: You Can Legally Avoid Taxes on Your Social Security Benefits – Here’s How |
Kiplinger: How to Leverage a Backdoor Roth IRA |
NAPA Net: Declining Revenue Growth Leading RIAs to Discount Fees, Unbundle Fee Structures |
NAPA Net: Allianz Strikes a Deal in Excessive Fee Suit |
NAPA Net: Retirement Resolutions on the Rise? |
The Motley Fool: 3 Top Index Funds for Your IRA |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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