What do you think of our site upgrade?
Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 2/16/18 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 2/16/18
February 20
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:
Gig Workers Saving for Retirement – What’s in Their Best Interest?” (, February 13, 2018) If you are an active member of the gig economy, you don’t need to wait for Congress to act to start saving for retirement. You can begin saving right now. And, depending on your specific situation, you may just be able to save faster than you think.

Compliance – The Popcorn Machine:
There’s a lot popping around in there. It’s been popping for a while. It’ll keep popping until someone actually does something about it.
No Rothification, but some technical changes to retirement plans in budget bill,” (BenefitsPRO, February 9, 2018) See below for the details.
Hardship Withdrawal Changes Included in Budget Deal,” (PLANADVISER, February 9, 2018) The devil is in the details here, and what devilish details they are.
Social Security will need more revenues — where should that money come from?” (MarketWatch, February 12, 2018) A study suggests converting Social Security from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan will not only solve the problem, but solver in a less expensive way.
Public pensions may be next crisis, PGIM’s Hunt says,” (BenefitsPRO, February 12, 2018) What’s this about “next”? How about the fact this crisis is here and now?
The New Tax Law: Retirement Savings,” (Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2018) A quick overview for thse who missed it the first time.
Kentucky House backing off from switch to DC retirement plans,” (BenefitsPRO, February 14, 2018) Because a good idea is a terrible thing to waste.
California cities’ pension bills may rise with CalPERS move,” (BenefitsPRO, February 14, 2018) This is the problem with pension plans. They’re all based on assumptions. That means they’re virtual. And anything that’s virtual is not really there. And when there’s no “there” there, you can pretty much do anything you want from an accounting standpoint.

Fiduciary – Is the You-Know-What About to Hit the Fan?:
A lot of political moves have backfired lately. This may turn out to be the biggest one. Better get that popcorn ready.
Scottrade Charged Under DOL Fiduciary Rule in Massachusetts,” (ThinkAdvisor, February 14, 2018) It appears we have a violation for a federal Rule the federal government has decided it would not yet enforce. This state-based action may open up a can of worms that neither side in the debate wants opened – at least right now.
Lawyer Fighting DOL Rule Blasts Scottrade Fiduciary Charges,” (ThinkAdvisor, February 16, 2018) And there it is. Massachusetts’ actions may be proving the point for opponents of the Fiduciary Rule.

Fees – It’s About Time:
These fees started off for valid reasons, but very quickly 12b-1 became virtual commissions. “No-Load” funds could have them, but the conflict-of-interest remained. Now the SEC has decided they’re not good. At least for RIAs. But, then again, was that ever the problem?
SEC Launches Share Class Disclosure Initiative to Crack Down on 12b-1 Fees,” (ThinkAdvisor, February 12, 2018) Don’t read too much into this. It only applies to RIAs. They shouldn’t have been doing it anyway. It’s not clear this pertains to conflicts-of-interest, just paying too much when a cheaper alternative is available.
SEC Giving Advisors Who Didn’t Reveal 12b-1 Fees Time To Come Clean,” (Financial Advisor, February 13, 2018) Same story, different take.
SEC Reveals Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative,” (PLANADVISER, February 13, 2018) Yet another take, this time a bit more sophisticated.
Finra To Go Easy on Cooperative B-Ds If They Refund 12b-1 Fees,” (Financial Advisor, February 13, 2018) Thus confirming the Butterfly Effect.
Share Class ‘Amnesty’ for 401k Advisors: Marcia Wagner,” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 14, 2018) This time with a legal twist.
Self-Reporting to SEC of 12b-1 Conflicts of Interest Not Without Risk,” (PLANADVISER, February 14, 2018) More on the legal side of this issue.
Fee and Industry Shifts Mean Retirement Plan Providers Can Play Hardball,” (PLANADVISER, February 14, 2018) Surprise, this isn’t about 12b-1 fees. It’s about Fidelity vs. Vanguard.

Investments – What the Correction Told Us, and What It Didn’t:
Well, that was fast. Are we done? Probably not, but, hey, we learned a lot. Didn’t we?
How to survive a stock market ‘corrections’,” (USA Today, February 10, 2018) Here’s the real lesson of this article: Within three trading days after the official correction, the market had gained 1,000 points. That means, don’t treat investing as though your racing a speedboat that can turn on a dime. Rather, act as though you’re the captain of an aircraft carrier that takes miles to turn. Slow and steady wins the race.
Active Funds Shone in Selloff, Just Like They Said They Would,” (Bloomberg, February 13, 2018) Title says it all.
For U.S. Retirees, Rising Interest Rates a Double-Edged Sword,” (Wealth Management, February 14, 2018) Remember interest rates? They’re baaack. Now you need to remember what you used to do to deal with them.
5 Investing Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Retirement,” (Forbes, February 14, 2018) Well, really only one investment tip. The other four are common sense tips.
P-Solve Report Questions Some Common TDF Manager Practices,” (PLANADVISER, February 15, 2018) Not sure if this is an opinion piece or if it is an academic piece.

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.
Using Data to Determine the Best QDIA for Your Clients,” (PLANADVISER, February 8, 2018)
DB Plans Have Been Helped by Funding Relief,” (PLANADVISER, February 9, 2018)
Should You Plan on Your Clients Living to 100?” (ThinkAdvisor, February 12, 2018)
Nearly One-Third of Employers Plan to Use Tax Breaks on Employee Compensation, Benefits,” (PLANADVISER, February 12, 2018)
One fifth of small business owners are ‘not at all confident’ in their ability to retire, (BenefitsPRO, February 13, 2018)
Providers Agree to Pay Back Retirement Plans That Invested in Fraudulent Loans,” (PLANADVISER, February 13, 2018)
4 Ways Persistent Low Returns Affect Retirement Behavior: NBER,” (ThinkAdvisor, February 14, 2018)
5 ways to boost retirement plan participation,” (Employee Benefit News, February 14, 2018)
Sweetheart Scams & Retirees: What Advisors Need to Know,” (ThinkAdvisor, February 14, 2018)
Equity Compensation Plan Participants Want Advice,” (PLANADVISER, February 15, 2018)
Class Certified in ERISA Lawsuit Targeting NYU Retirement Plan,” (PLANADVISER, February 15, 2018)
An annual retirement plan ‘check-up’ may be just what the doctor ordered,” (Employee Benefit News, February 15, 2018)
Why advisers should reach out to clients during times of market volatility,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, February 16, 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.
Are ‘Record’ 401k Balances Awesome or Unsettling?” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 8, 2018)
Forget the 4% Rule: Rethinking Common Retirement Beliefs,” (Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2018)
Millions of Americans Overlook Retirement Savings Tax Credit,” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 9, 2018)
Top 6 Places For ‘Easy’ Retirement Overseas,” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 9, 2018)
Why So Many Men Die at 62,” (Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2018)
Stock Market Volatility & Your Retirement, Who You Gonna Call? Robo Or Human Advisor,” (Forbes, February 11, 2018)
This is your last chance ever to reverse a Roth IRA conversion,” (MarketWatch, February 12, 2018)
Retirement’s future could rest with digital tools, behavioral economics,” (BenefitsPRO, February 12,2018)
Is Retirement Killing Men?” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 12, 2018)
A growing percentage of millennials have absolutely nothing saved,” (CNBC, February 12, 2018)
How to Move 401k Financial Wellness from Idea to Execution, Part II,” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 12, 2018)
As Market Optimism Grew, So Did 401k Participation And Contributions,” (Financial Advisor, February 13, 2018)
Surprise (Not)! Interest in Digital 401k Advice on the Rise,” (The 401(k) Specialist, February 13, 2018)
401k Fees: What You Can Do If You’re In a Small Plan,” (Money, February 13, 2018)
Try this 2-income strategy and you could retire with millions,” (MarketWatch, February 13, 2018)
This is like a turbo-charged Child IRA – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, February 14, 2018)
Pros And Cons Of A 401k Down Payment Loan,” (, February 15, 2018)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: The one list of TPAs that plan sponsors should ignore |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: You only get one chance on the trust issue |
Data “Points”: The 3 Biggest Mistakes Fiduciaries Make |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Hardship Provisions Will Change |
fi360: America Saves Week |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #79 |
Squared Away Blog: The Ultimate in Travel: Retiring Abroad |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: EBSA Head Preston Rutledge Invited to Speak at the NAPA 401k SUMMIT |
NAPA Net: Another Employer Prevails in Stock Drop Suit |
The Motley Fool: Over 70? Here’s Your RMD Guide for 2018 |
NAPA Net: Has the Fiduciary Rule Fueled Advisor Hires? |
NAPA Net: 6 Things You May Not Know About the Saver’s Credit |
NAPA Net: Citing Tax Reform, More Firms Boost Benefits |
NAPA Net: Fidelity 401k Accounts and IRAs Hit Record Levels |
The Motley Fool: Experts Analyzed 292 Retirement Strategies. This One Is the Best |
NAPA Net: SEC Launches 4-Month Amnesty Program for 12b-1 Violations |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: 415(m) Plans |
NAPA Net: Proposal to Streamline Tax Rules Targets Retirement Regs |
NAPA Net: Massachusetts Kicks the Tires on Fee Disclosure Mandate |
The Motley Fool: Only 10% of Women Are Confident They’ll Retire Fully |
Kiplinger: Look to Small-Cap Dividend Payers in Retirement |
NAPA Net: Class Action Status Granted in University Excessive Fee Suit |
NAPA Net: SEC Seeks 5% Funding Increase for OCIE |
NAPA Net: Is There a Fiduciary Duty of Cybersecurity? |
The Motley Fool: The Worst Funds for Your 401k |
Kiplinger: What’s Changing in Your Retirement Accounts in 2018 |
NAPA Net: Bay State Regulator Files Fiduciary Rule-Related Complaint |
NAPA Net: Reader Poll: (Not Yet) a Tipping Point for CITs?  |
NAPA Net: How Influential Is Plan Access and Participation on Retirement Planning? |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

1 Comment

Only registered users can comment. Login is sponsored by…

Order Your From Cradle to Retirement book today!

Vote in our Poll


The materials at this web site are maintained for the sole purpose of providing general information about fiduciary law, tax accounting and investments and do not under any circumstances constitute legal, accounting or investment advice. You should not act or refrain from acting based on these materials without first obtaining the advice of an appropriate professional. Please carefully read the terms and conditions for using this site. This website contains links to third-party websites. We are not responsible for, and make no representations or endorsements with respect to, third-party websites, or with respect to any information, products or services that may be provided by or through such websites.