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 4/28/18 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 4/28/18
April 30
00:05 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:
Is ‘Active Share’ the New Phrenology?” (, April 24, 2018) The controversial and decidedly partisan report not only took aim at the policies of the current administration, it entered into the passive/active debate by solely targeting actively managed funds. Worse, the report reveals a rather naïve understanding of mutual funds and investing.

Compliance – Lotta Noise:
A whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.
Tax Reform Prompts DB Plans to Accelerate Contributions,” (PLANADVISER, April 20, 2018) Saving more money in taxes today, earn more money to pay taxes on later – sounds like a win-win scenario.
Joint Congressional Committee Seeks Adviser Input on PBGC Solvency,” (PLANADVISER, April 20, 2018) Will this finally end the Ponzi Scheme fetish long plaguing retirement public policy?
Alicia Munnell: The Social Security fix nobody wants,” (BenefitsPRO, April 23, 2018) “Raise taxes.”
DB Plan Sponsor Owes Taxes for Miscalculating Annual Benefit Limitation,” (PLANADVISER, April 25, 2018) Oops!
IRS Announces Second Switcheroo For 2018 Health Savings Account Contribution Limits,” (Forbes, April 26, 2018) In case you missed it.

Fiduciary – SEC Fallout/DOL Fall in:
This is a long list of articles reflecting one of the busiest news weeks.
Duty to Investigate,” (PLANADVISER, March/April 2018) Marcia Wagner tackles another fiduciary duty.
SEC proposal leaves big gaps in broker, advisors standards,” (Financial Planning, April 19, 2018) There’s nothing wrong with this if there’s a clear gap in the public’s perception of the service.
DOL Fiduciary Responsibilities Seminar to Be Held in NYC,” (PLANADVISER, April 19, 2018) Put it in your calendar.
Secretary Galvin Slams SEC Fiduciary Rule ‘Fail’,” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 19, 2018) Oops, there goes those easy political points…
As Broker Groups Celebrate, Fiduciary Advocates Mixed On SEC Best Interest Proposal,” (Financial Advisor, April 20, 2018) The SEC, like the DOL, appears to be given brokers a chance to claim they’re acting in the clients’ best interests by defining down “best interests.”
A fiduciary by any other name … isn’t a fiduciary,” (Financial Planning, April 20, 2018) A hard hitting piece that exposes the folly of the SEC’s effort.
Massachusetts Regulator Rips SEC’s Best Interest Proposals For Brokers,” (Financial Advisor, April 20, 2018) Well, yeah, wouldn’t you if the whole basis of your case just unraveled?
April 30 Deadline Looms for DOL Fiduciary Appeal,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 21, 2018) Does anyone even remember the DOL?
SEC Wants Brokers To Treat Clients Better: What’s At Stake,” (Financial Advisor, April 23, 2018) A fairly comprehensive article, but it seems to be reading too much from the SEC press release without asking the critical questions.
Why the SEC proposal is a victory for clients,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, April 23, 2018) The editor should have fact-checked this piece better. For example, while making the case the SEC was fair to give brokers a different set of rules, the writer mistaken says clients can choose “what … advisors they work with,” incorrectly implying brokers are “advisors” too. Indeed, the proposal specifically forbids brokers from calling themselves “advisors.”
DOL Likely Won’t Fight for Fiduciary Rule, Former Exec Says,” (Financial Advisor IQ, April 24, 2018) And this surprises who?
Confused by the SEC’s proposed advice rule? Your questions answered,” (Financial Planning, April 24, 2018) Or, more appropriately, their answers questioned.
SEC rule would create distinct but ‘comparable’ regimes for RIAs and broker-dealers,” (Financial Planning, April 24, 2018) How much more of this analysis can we take? But the article does make the salient point that this will take a while to sort out.
SEC Standard of Conduct Proposal Faces ‘Arduous Path’: Fi360’s Aikin,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 25, 2018) Having a fiduciary rule for RIAs and a non-fiduciary rule for brokers may be problematic, says Aiken.
Would SEC’s best interest standard apply to hybrid advisers?” (BenefitsPRO, April 25, 2018) The answer is no. Next question.
Fiduciary Rule on ‘Life Support,’ SEC Version Might Never Happen: Fi360 Annual Conference,” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 25, 2018) Perhaps a bit premature on that first one.
AARP Asks Court to Preserve DOL Fiduciary Rule,” (Financial Planning, April 26, 2018) O…K…. When another non-governmental entity tried this same maneuver after the Obama administration passed on defending the Defense of Marriage Act, the court ruled that non-governmental entity didn’t have standing. It’s hard to see how this won’t end the same way.
Can AARP, NY Attorney General save fiduciary rule?” (Financial Planning, April 26, 2018) Same story different title take.
AARP, States File for Rehearing of DOL Fiduciary Case,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 26, 2018) And yet another take.
AARP, States Fight to Keep DOL Rule Alive,” (Wealth Management, April 26, 2018) One… more…. time!
Attorneys General, Other Third-Parties Move to Revive DOL Fiduciary Rule in 5th Circuit,” (PLANADVISER, April 26, 2018) jk
SEC’s Clayton To Congress: Investors Have No Legal Right To Conflict-Free Advice,” (Financial Advisor, April 26, 2018) Well, that all depends on what your definition of “conflict” is.
SEC proposes ‘Best Interest’ guidance under Dodd Frank,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, April 26, 2018) “This just in…” by carrier pigeon.
Clayton: SEC Broker Conduct Rule Embodies ‘Core Fiduciary Principles’,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 27, 2018) Actions speak louder than words.

Fees – Crickets:
Not a peep from the press.

Investments – DOL Returns to Normalcy:
At least when it comes to the “prudence” (or, specifically, the lack thereof) of social investing.
A QDIA in Transition,” (PLANADVISER, March/April 2018) It’s been more than a decade since the QDIA became immortalized in the 2006 Pension Protection Act. Where is it going now?
DOL Clarifies How ESG Investment Considerations Should Be Made Under ERISA,” (PLANADVISOR, April 24, 2018) This is great news for those concerned their retirement savings were at risk because of someone else’s political agenda. By returning to the classic fiduciary duty to place economic interests ahead of political interests means there’s less worry imprudent investments could consume anything more than a token percentage of a retirement portfolio. Remember, the Prudent Man Rule of the nineteenth century did not prohibit trustees from investing in imprudent assets, it merely limited the amount of the portfolio that could be devoted to imprudent investments.
Labor Department Says Do-Good Investments Not Always ‘Prudent’,” (Financial Advisor, April 24, 2018) Same story, different take. Very different take. Maybe even missing the point (or, with irony that would make you smirk, unintentionally proving it) different take.
Regulating the economy is great, except for this one thing – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, April 25, 2018) Active share will join a long list of government “regulations” that end up meaningless.
Even Passive TDF Glide Path Designs Require Active Thinking,” (PLANADVISER, April 25, 2018) Retirement savers may think they can “set it and forget it” but TDF portfolio managers can’t.

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.
401k Plan Participants Challenge Principal’s Management of TDFs,” (PLANADVISER, April 20, 2018)
Responsive Design of DC Plan Web Portals Greatly Benefits Participants,” (PLANADVISER, April 20, 2018)
Susan Clausen discusses DOL ERISA mandate for a retirement plan,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, April 23, 2018)
DB Plan Sponsor Clients Can Now Request Consultation Prior to Filing Distress Termination,” (PLANADVISER, April 23, 2018)
Priorities for retirement plan sponsors: Plugging leakage, enabling auto-portability,” (Employee Benefit News, April 23, 2018)
Employers unprepared for 401k data breaches,” (Employee Benefit News, April 24, 2018)
401k Key to Retirement Confidence, EBRI Finds,” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 24, 2018)
Judge Rejects Parts of DOL ESOP Expert Commentary in Fiduciary Breach Litigation,” (PLANADVISER, April 25, 2018)
This is one retirement saving strategy your boss probably won’t support,” (MarketWatch, April 25, 2018)
American Airlines Challenged for Not Offering Stable Value Fund in 401k,” (PLANADVISER, April 26, 2018)
Employees Need Help Addressing Barriers to Retirement Saving,” (PLANADVISER, April 26, 2018)
How to help employees avoid the ‘average participant’ retirement trap,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, April 27, 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.
With Tax Season A Wrap, Here’s What Retirement Savers Need To Know In 2018,” (Financial Advisor, April 18, 2018)
7 Ways to Cope With Inflation in Retirement,” (US News, April 19, 2018)
Are You Financially Ready To Live To 100?” (Forbes, April 19, 2018)
Half Of Americans Don’t Make Consecutive 401k Contributions, Bank Says,” (Financial Advisor, April 20, 2018)
Don’t run out of money in retirement: Here’s how much to use per year, and why,” (Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2018)
What’s A Sustainable Portfolio Withdrawal Rate?” (Financial Advisor, April 23, 2018)
We Make (Literally) Thousands of Decisions Each Day, But Not About Finances,” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 23, 2018)
How To Avoid A Retirement Disaster,” (Financial Advisor, April 23, 2018)
How much US families have in retirement savings and how much they need,” (CNBC, April 23, 2018)
You’re probably going to live longer — but what if you can’t afford it?” (MarketWatch, April 24, 2018)
Here’s the Easiest Way To Catch Up On Retirement Savings,” (Money, April 24, 2018)
Choosing The Best IRA To Maximize Your Retirement Savings,” (Forbes, April 26, 2018)
Social Security checks are smaller than many Americans expect, survey finds,” (USA Today, April 26, 2018)
Americans on Track to Replace 64% of Income in Retirement,” (PLANADVISER, April 26, 2018)
Retirees can be too frugal with their spending,” (CBS News, April 27, 2018)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Ary Rosenbaum: These Are The Errors That A 401k Plan Sponsor Should Look For |
Fi360: Fi360 Urges DOL and SEC to Come Together on Fiduciary Rule |
Nerd’s Eye View: SEC’s Advice Rule: Regulation Best Interest & Advisor Title Reform |
Squared Away Blog: Retirees Get a 401k Withdrawal Headache |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #88 |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Graff Calls For DOL E-Delivery Change and I Love It |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: When it comes to theft, the fiduciary vs. settlor function debate is meaningless |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: The Fiduciary That Buys The Groceries |
Squared Away Blog: Can Caregivers Help Seniors with Money? |
Business of Benefits: The Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (the “QLAC”) Rules Form Foundation for Understanding of How 401k and IRA-Based Lifetime Income Works |
RetirementRevised: Wall Street sees a win in proposed SEC investor protection |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Inside the SEC’s New Form CRS – Part 1 |
NAPA Net: Most 401k Consultants Support Additional ‘Retirement Tier’ |
NAPA Net: What is the Fiduciary Standard of Care? |
The Motley Fool: 4 Ways to Retire on Less Money |
Kiplinger: Roth IRA Contribution Limits Income Limits 2018 |
NAPA Net: DOL Pulls Back on ESG Guidance |
NAPA Net: (Too) Great Expectations? |
NAPA Net: Legal Experts See Long Road Ahead for SEC Proposals |
NAPA Net: PSCA Study Reveals 4 Emerging 401k Trends |
The Motley Fool: What Happens if You Try Retirement and Decide It’s Not for You? |
NAPA Net: Inside the SEC’s New Form CRS – Part 2 |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: IRC §401(h) Plans |
NAPA Net: DOL’s Clock Is Ticking on Whether to Appeal 5th Circuit Decision |
Kiplinger: Create Income for Life, Inheritance for Your Kids |
NAPA Net: AARP Enters Fiduciary Litigation Fray |
NAPA Net: Paper ‘Trails’ |
NAPA Net: A Healthy Bump for Retirement Confidence? |
NAPA Net: FAs: Key Differentiators in Affecting Retirement Savings Behaviors |
Kiplinger: Roth IRA Utopia: Is Now the Right Time to Convert? |
NAPA Net: States Step Forward in Fiduciary Fight |
NAPA Net: Reader Poll: Will the SEC Proposals Influence the DOL? |
NAPA Net: AARP Cites Government Inaction, Member Interests in Fiduciary Litigation Intervention |
NAPA Net: WSJ: DOL Probing 401k Rollover Practices at Wells Fargo |
NAPA Net: IRS Announces Relief for 2018 HSA Limit |
The Motley Fool: Today’s Retirees Are Floored by This 1 Expense |

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.