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What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 4/20/18 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 4/20/18
April 23
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:
Exclusive Interview: Fred Reish says DOL ‘Conflicted’ Over Conflict-of-Interest Rule Appeal,” (, April 1,7 2018) One of the nation’s top ERISA attorneys tells us even if the Fiduciary Duty is dead, it’s not. The only question is which part will remain alive and which part with wither on the vine. Fred Reish has an idea, and he tells us here.

Compliance – Working 9 to 5:
Are we going through the motions here or are we really making headway.
Compliance is tough but plan sponsors are not alone,” (BenefitsPRO, April 16, 2018) A great list of warning signs.
Department of labor increases fines, conducts fewer retirement plan audits,” (Employee Benefit News, April 16, 2018) Is this a good thing or a bad thing.
New Committee Hears What Led to Multiemployer Plan Crisis,” (PLANADVISER, April 19, 2018) Demographics, failing industries, and market returns.

Fiduciary – The Verdict is In(?):
Well, the SEC finally pulled the trigger, only about a decade after they were asked to. Judging by the initial response, it appears the wait wasn’t worth it.
Duty to Investigate,” (PLANADVISER, March/April 2018) Marcia Wagner explains the “best interest” due diligence process.
Ahead of Wednesday Meeting, Stage Set for Fiduciary Jurisdiction Test Between DOL and SEC,” (PLANADVISER, April 16, 2018) In this corner…
SEC Fiduciary Rule Meeting Fast Approaching,” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 16, 2018) We’re on the edge of our seats.
Galvin Fights Scottrade’s Attempts to Move Fiduciary Fight to Federal Court,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 17, 2018) This will be interesting. It will test the power of States versus the federal government.
On fiduciary matters, the SEC should think more like a trust company & less like a bank – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, April 18, 2018) Ho to get over the problem of conflicting mission statements.
SEC’s new code of conduct rules may eclipse fiduciary standard initiatives,” (MarketWatch, April 18, 2018) The article warns to expect the SEC to take several months to review mostly negative comments.
SEC Meets to Vote on Fiduciary Proposal,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 18, 2018) The report before the vote.
SEC OKs Fiduciary Proposal,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 18, 2018) And this is the report after the vote.
SEC proposal sparks battle on advisor titles, upends fiduciary debate,” (Financial Planning, April 18, 2018) Right now they’re “debating” vapor-ware – a combination of “ifs, ands, and what might be.” Let’s wait until we see the actual wording. This key will be the titles.
SEC Proposes Revised Conflict of Interest Standards for Brokers and Advisers,” (PLANADVISER, April 18, 2018) At least this article admits the words aren’t out yet.
SEC Reluctantly Votes to Push Best Interest Proposals Forward,” (Wealth Management, April 18, 2018) Yet another take on the story.
SEC votes to open fiduciary regs for public comment, despite commissioners’ misgivings,” (BenefitsPRO, April 18, 2018) And still another take.
Trump’s SEC poised to rewrite fiduciary rule dreaded by brokers,” (Financial Planning, April 18, 2018) As you might guess, this article might contain some subtle hyperbole in some places.
Brokers Likely To Get Break From Complex Trump SEC Rules,” (Financial Advisor, April 19, 2018) At first glance, it sure looks that way. On the other hand, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.
SEC fiduciary advice rule winners and losers,” (Financial Planning, April 19, 2018) Very long article but very comprehensive.
SEC’s Broker Conduct Rules Lack Clarity, Industry Watchers Say,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 19, 2018) “Lacking clarity?” Isn’t something the Supreme Court just ruled on?
SEC fiduciary rule… is not a fiduciary rule,” (Financial Planning, April 19, 2018) Well, yeah.
Advisors Greet SEC’s Best Interest Proposal with Skepticism,” (Wealth Management, April 19, 2018) Yep, saw this coming.
Why the SEC proposal is a victory for clients,” (Financial Planning, April 19, 2018) And now, with so many questioning the SEC’s proposal, do we have a counter-argument? Check out the author’s creds.
SEC Rule: Brokers Can’t Pose As Advisors, May Become RIAs,” (Financial Advisor, April 19, 2018) The irony is, in within the SEC’s version of the battle of the Fiduciary, the brokerage industry may lose its greatest marketing advantage. As a result, it may have no choice but to forgo that business model and become RIAs.
It’s Not Déjà Vu, It’s a Brand New Best Interest Rulemaking Debate,” (PLANADVISER, April 19, 2018) If you want to confuse and obfuscate, then release a 1,000 page report.
The SEC’s ‘Best Interest’ Proposal Just Prolongs the Status Quo,” (Wealth Management, April 20, 2018) As the week comes to an end, this about sums up the consensus among all except the brokerage industry lobbyists.
April 30 Deadline Looms for DOL Fiduciary Appeal,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 20, 2018) Meanwhile, back at the DOL…

Fees – Wait? Fees Aren’t Important?:
The truth rears its ugly head when we finally see folks admitting low fees aren’t everything. But you, the loyal reader, already know that.
TPA due diligence requires weighing more than fees,” (Employee Benefit News, April 16, 2018) Yep, it looks like folks are starting to understanding what “you get what you pay for” really means.

Investments – The Usual Tweaking:
So it turns out the new isn’t the answer everyone’s been looking for and the old isn’t as outdated as everyone said it was.
A QDIA in Transition,” (PLANADVISER, March/April 2018) This is an attempt to correct the major flaw of Target “Date” Funds.
The importance of ‘style’ when selecting an investment manager,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, April 18, 2018) This is going beyond the market cap dynamic that has for so long ruled the investment option menu. It’s a return to “old-time” investment philosophy choices.

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.
Most Recordkeepers Are Insurers,” (PLANADVISER, March/April 2018)
Employees Voice Some Optimism About Automation Trends,” (PLANADVISER, April 16, 2018)
3 things to consider when forming a retirement plan committee,” (BenefitsPRO, April 16, 2018)
Groups, TIAA Filed Briefs in Support of University of Pennsylvania in 403(b) Plan Suit,” (PLANADVISER, April 16, 2018)
Retirement plan participants need your advice: Survey,” (BenefitsPRO, April 16, 2018)
Plan Sponsors Share How Advisors Can Win Their Business,” (Wealth Management, April 17, 2018)
Corporate and Public DB Plans Focusing on Different Outcomes,” (PLANADVISER, April 17, 2018)
Surprise! How Fast Do Retirees ‘Decumulate’ 401ks?” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 17, 2018)
7 signs of a successful 401k,” (Employee Benefit News, April 18, 2018)
Open MEPs Top DCIIA’s Retirement Plan Coverage Gap Wish List,” (PLANADVISER, April 18, 2018)
How Plan Sponsor, Provider and Participant Perceptions Differ: Cerulli,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 18, 2018)
Court OKs Northern Trust DB Plan Change,” (PLANADVISER, April 18, 2018)
Defined benefit plans are showing new signs of life,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, April 19, 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.
Winning At Retirement Is About More Than Money,” (Financial Advisor, April, 2018)
7 retirement topics to cover at annual reviews,” (Financial Planning, April 12, 2018)
Social Security Recipients May Get Less Than They Think,” (Financial Advisor, April 12, 2018)
The Most Valuable Tax Break That Retirement Savers Overlook,” (Money, April 13, 2018)
How retirement investors can protect themselves — even without a fiduciary rule,” (MarketWatch, April 14, 2018)
What’s better, collecting Social Security early or blowing through retirement savings?” (Los Angeles Times, April 15, 2018)
How To Track Down That Lost 401k Or Pension,” (Forbes, April 15, 2018)
Finding the right balance between 401k and HSA plans,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, April 16, 2018)
The Backdoor Roth IRA: Investing Rules of the Backroads,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 16, 2018)
Are you taking steps to address this major retirement concern?” (AOL Finance, April 16, 2018)
You may be surprised what retirement income is taxed and what isn’t,” (The Washington Post, April 16, 2018)
How Retirement Strategies Should Change As You Age,” (Forbes, April 16, 2018)
Single Women Worried About Retirement,” (Financial Advisor, April 17, 2018)
Retirement saving: How to financially prepare to be a millionaire,” (Fox Business, April 17, 2018)
US cities where $1 million goes the furthest in retirement,” (CNBC, April 17, 2018)
6 Misunderstood IRA Rules And Strategies,” (Forbes, April 17, 2018)
Younger employees are becoming savvier about HSAs,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, April 18, 2018)
How to Become Financially Independent and Retire Early,” (Money, April 18, 2018)
Many Americans Go Broke In Retirement, But Many Others Gain Wealth In Old Age,” (Forbes, April 18, 2018)
Alexa, what’s my retirement account balance?” (Employee Benefit News, April 19, 2018)
Workers Want More Help with Retirement Planning,” (PLANADVISER, April 19, 2018)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
ERISA Lawyer Blog: Seventh Circuit Rules That Amendment To A Defined Benefit Plan Formula Does Not Violate The Anti-Cutback Rule Or The ADEA |
Squared Away Blog: Timing of Social Security Checks is Key |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Home Depot is the next 401k lawsuit target |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Always be watching |
Business of Benefits: Ignore Those Form 5500 Instructions: 403(b) Plans DO NOT Use Form 5330 For Late Deposits |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Don’t show clients you don’t care |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Redemption only goes so far |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: When The Fiduciary Warranty is Dangerous |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Graff Announces E-delivery Initiative |
NAPA Net: Why HSAs Should be Part of Your Retirement Savings Conversation |
The Motley Fool: 65% of Baby Boomers Are Making a Huge Financial Mistake That Could Leave Them Broke |
NAPA Net: Parties of Interest Increasingly Being Tested in Plan Litigation |
NAPA Net: The Hex on Generation X: How the ‘Lost Generation’ Found Its Way |
NAPA Net: Plan Sponsor Confidential |
The Motley Fool: 7 Factors That’ll Affect Your Social Security Check |
Kiplinger: Solo 401k Contribution Limits for 2018 |
NAPA Net: IRS Pressed on VCP Fee Changes at Hill Hearing |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Correcting IRC §409A Compliance Errors |
NAPA Net: Insights on Auto Features from the PSCA’s New 401k Plan Survey |
NAPA Net: SEC Rolls Out Best Interest, Fiduciary Proposal |
NAPA Net: SEC Commissioners Think Current Proposals Need Some Work |
NAPA Net: Class Action Sought Against TDF Provider |
NAPA Net: Bay State Scoffs at ERISA Preemption Claim in Fiduciary Case |
Kiplinger: Retirees Often Make This Social Security Mistake |
NAPA Net: IRS Reform Moves Forward in the House |
NAPA Net: Here Are the SEC’s Top 6 Fee and Expense Compliance Issues |

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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