Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker?
What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 5/4/18 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 5/4/18
May 07
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:
Self-Dealing Ban Eliminates Greatest Fiduciary Conflict-of-Interest,” (, May 1, 2018) The definition of “conflict-of-interest” has become so broadly defined as to render it useless. It’s better to focus on the one conflict-of-interest that, with very limited exceptions, fiduciaries have had to outright ban for centuries. Ironically, in contrast to this precedent, it remains the one conflict-of-interest the DOL expressly permits.

Compliance – Updates for HSA:
Because it’s becoming more popular.
IRS Reverts to Prior HSA Limit for Family Coverage,” (PLANADVISER, April 27, 2018) Oops! Never mind.

Fiduciary – SEC Down and DOL Out:
Last week saw a lot of action in the fiduciary realm. Of course, readers of this weekly report won’t be surprised by what happened.
CFP Board Enters The Tattoo Business While SEC Flounders,” (Financial Advisor, April 27, 2018) If you like the CFB Board and you like cheerleaders leading cheers on behalf of the CFP Board, you’ll love this article. If you’re looking for a good rundown on what’s really happening, you’ll need to search elsewhere.
FSI, SIFMA Ask Court To Reject DOL Rule Do Over,” (Financial Advisor, April 30, 2018) This represents the equal and opposite reaction to AARP and the states.
DOL Rule Rehearing Is ‘Unjustifiable’: Eugene Scalia,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 30, 2018) He says they had enough time to get on board and never did.
SEC best interest proposal has ‘severe problems’,” (Financial Planning, April 30, 2018) It appears the idea is if the SEC won’t allow brokers to use the term “advisor,” then brokers will use the term “financial planner” (or some other derivative name).
SEC IM Chief Offers Clarity on Broker Conduct Standards,” (ThinkAdvisor, April 30, 2018) Let the ‘splainin’ begin. But there is one gnawing question. If conflicts-of-interest are so bad, why does the SEC go out of the way to say that there’s nothing on either the adviser side or the broker side that specifically prohibits them?
DOL Lets Fifth Circuit Decision on Fiduciary Rule Stand,” (Wealth Management, May 1, 2018) The DOL has until June 13th to send it to the Supreme Court, but that’s unlikely given it is reworking the Rule. In the meantime, others have stepped in for the DOL.
Where’s The ‘Best Interest’ in the SEC’s Best Interest Proposal?” (Financial Advisor, May 1, 2018) In a nutshell, there’s no “there” there.
Last minute bid to save fiduciary rule fails,” (Financial Planning, May 2, 2018) If you read Trending Topics last week you could have seen this coming a mile away.
5th Circuit Denies AARP, States’ Request to Intervene in DOL Fiduciary Ruling,” (ThinkAdvisor, May 2, 2018) Same story, different take.
Fiduciary rule dies: 5th Circuit denies AARP, States’ bid to defend DOL rule,” (BenefitsPRO, May 2, 2018) Again.
Last-Minute Efforts by AARP, States to Save Fiduciary Rule Fail,” (Wealth Management, May 2, 2018) And again.
AARP bid to save DOL fiduciary rule fails,” (On Wall Street, May 2, 2018) One. More. Time.
SEC fiduciary rule FAQ: Your questions answered,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, May 2, 2018) Answered at least as far as we know now.
SEC chair Clayton promotes ‘harmonizing’ conflicting rules over brokers, advisors,” (Philadelphia Inquirer, May 2, 2018) Here we go with the “H” word again.
5th Circuit Denies AARP, Attorneys General Motions to Revive DOL Fiduciary Rule Case,” (PLANADVISER, May 3, 2018) A little late to the party, but at least they showed up.

Fees – Movement in the Weeds:
Someone’s still paying attention to what really matters.
Mutual fund and ETF fees drop at record pace,” (Financial Planning, April 27, 2018) Maybe, maybe not. This appears to be a phenomenon associated with the migration of assets to index funds.
SEC Releases FAQ on 12b-1 Fee Initiative,” (ThinkAdvisor, May 1, 2018) While everyone is talking about the Best Interest proposal, this initiative seems to have been forgotten. Ironically, it maybe the one with the most teeth.
The SEC issues FAQ on mutual fund share class self-reporting,” (Financial Planning, May 2, 2018) Same story, different take.

Investments – Starting to Think More Broadly:
It’s refreshing when you start to see folks questioning the usually way of thinking. The problem is when they don’t.
Investors Want to Discuss Risk and Retirement Income,” (PLANADVISER, May 1, 2018) They may want to discuss “risk,” but are they aware of the risks of focusing on risk?
Retirement: How to Adjust Your Portfolio,” (Money, May 1, 2018) Turns out people are living longer. That means they need to be in equities longer.
Volatility, Strategic Thinking, and Long-Term Perspective,” (PLANADVISER, May 3, 2018) An investment pro shares his thoughts.
3 Misconceptions About Passive TDFs: Schwab,” (ThinkAdvisor, May 3, 2018) They’re not safer, they’re not better, and they’re not an either/or choice.

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.
The Value of NQDC Plans,” (PLANADVISER, March/April 2018)
DOL Secures Prison Time for Two Florida ERISA Fraudsters,” (PLANADVISER, April 27, 2018)
Wells Fargo Investigated By DOL Over 401k Rollover Practices,” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 27, 2018)
Susan Clausen discusses DOL ERISA mandate for a retirement plan,” (Employee Benefit News, April 30, 2018)
Appeals Court Upholds ERISA Decision Against ‘Peeps’ Candy Company,” (PLANADVISER, April 30, 2018)
Guiding employees before they take hardship distributions from 401k plans,” (Employee Benefit News, April 30, 2018)
How ‘Mega Roths’ Help 401k Plans,” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 30, 2018)
Priorities for retirement plan sponsors: Plugging leakage, enabling auto-portability,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, May 1, 2018)
How to Manage Sequence of Returns Risk in Retirement: The Advisor and the Quant,” (ThinkAdvisor, May 1, 2018)
Financial help wanted: Employees clamor for long-term retirement planning,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, May 1, 2018)
Inappropriate Investments, Excessive Fees, Self-Dealing Most Common Reasons for ERISA Lawsuits,” (PLANADVISER, May 1, 2018)
How plan sponsors can be a better fiduciary with or without the fiduciary rule,” (Employee Benefit News, May 1, 2018)
Private Wisconsin Colleges Form 403(b) MEP, Reflecting Wider Trend,” (PLANADVISER, May 2, 2018)
What SEC’s proposed best interest rule means for retirement plan sponsors,” (Employee Benefit News, May 2, 2018)
You Might Want To Rethink This ‘Dead’ Retirement Plan If You Have A Small Business,” (Forbes, May 2, 2018)
Employers feeling brunt of rapid, major regulatory changes,” (BenefitsPRO, May 3, 2018)
How to help employees with financial wellness,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, May 4, 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.
Getting a Handle on Retirement Readiness,” (PLANADVISER, March/April 2018)
Half of Couples Discuss Retirement Savings,” (PLANADVISER, March April 2018)
One-Quarter of Employees Do Not Know How Much They Need to Save for Retirement,” (PLANSPONSOR, April 27, 2018)
Delayed retirement is in the cards for more than half of 60-somethings,” (CNBC, April 27, 2018)
$1 Million Not the Magic Number Most Employees Say They Need for Retirement,” (PLANADVISER, April 27, 2018)
You Finally Reached Retirement Age, But Now What?” (Forbes, April 29, 2018)
If you’re putting money in a 401k and an IRA at the same time, be ready for the taxes,” (Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2018)
Two blue-collar industries beat white collar for retirement readiness,” (BenefitsPRO, April 30, 2018)
Six Retirement Investment Strategies That Actually Work,” (Forbes, April 30, 2018)
How to claim your Social Security benefits wisely,” (CBS News, April 30, 2018)
How Long Do Americans Expect to Work?” (The 401(k) Specialist, April 30, 2018)
Retiree Confidence Slips, Especially on Health Care: EBRI,” (ThinkAdvisor, May 1, 2018)
Nondeductible IRA contributions can help investors in retirement,” (CNBC, May 1, 2018)
What SEC’s proposed best interest rule means for retirement plan sponsors,” (Employee Benefit News, May 2, 2018)
The retirement crisis no one is talking about,” (Fox Business, May 2, 2018)
The cost of waiting to save for retirement,” (Yahoo, May 2, 2018)
America Is Minting More Millionaire Retirees Than Ever,” (Financial Advisor, May 3, 2018)
Younger workers increasingly gaining access to workplace retirement plans: Pew,” (BenefitsPRO, May 3, 2018)
Avoiding a retirement savings disaster – Ritholtz,” (BenefitsPRO, May 3, 2017)
Why Married Men Are So Terrible At Retirement,” (Forbes, May 4, 2017)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Ary Rosenbaum: The Devil Is In The Detail For The Plan Sponsor |
Data “Points”: (Too) Great Expectations? |
Nerd’s Eye View: Prohibited Transaction Rules That Can Disqualify An IRA |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: That 401k Conference is all about value |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Yesterday’s plan participants in today’s world |
Squared Away Blog: ‘Do I Have a Pension?’ Sleuths Can Find it |
RetirementRevised: Low income shortens lives, putting Social Security in a bind |
Ary Rosenbaum: Free Advice In Dealing With A TPA’s Business Challenges |
Data “Points”: The Chicken or the Egg? |
RetirementRevised: Why Gig Workers Face Retirement Challenges |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
Financial Advisor IQ: SEC Snuggles Up to Industry with Best Interest Rule? |
Financial Advisor IQ: Clients Clueless About Social Security May Undermine Their Own Retirement Plans |
NAPA Net: Plaintiffs Push Back on ‘Friends’ Filings in Excessive Fee Suit |
NAPA Net: ‘Friends’ File Briefs Backing University of Pennsylvania in Excessive Fee Appeal |
NAPA Net: Gen Z Workers Striving for Financial Wellness |
The Motley Fool: Only 8% of Americans Are Making This Smart Retirement Move |
Kiplinger: Missing Retirement Accounts Cost Retirees Billions |
Financial Advisor IQ: Wells Fargo Wouldn’t Be Alone Pushing 401k Clients into Proprietary Products |
NAPA Net: Financial Engines to Be Acquired, Combined with Edelman |
NAPA Net: The Chicken or the Egg? |
NAPA Net: Inside the SEC’s New Form CRS – Part 3 |
NAPA Net: Illinois Secure Choice Pilot Program Now in Operation | How is income in retirement changing? |
The Motley Fool: 5 Reasons Roth IRAs Are Still a Good Bet After Tax Reform |
Morningstar: 2 Ways to Upgrade Your 401k Without Leaving Your Job |
NAPA Net: A Call for a Change in Disclosure Defaults |
NAPA Net: SEC Commissioner Peirce Confirmed for 2018 NAPA DC Fly-In Forum |
NAPA Net: Knowledge Gap on Social Security May Lead to False Sense of Security |
The Motley Fool: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying an Annuity |
Kiplinger: What Rising Rates Mean for Retirees |
NAPA Net: DENIED: 5th Circuit Dismisses AARP, State Intervention in Fiduciary Rule Fight |
NAPA Net: SEC Issues FAQs on Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative |
NAPA Net: Suit Claims Conflict in Investment Advisor Fund Pick |
NAPA Net: Average 401k Balances Bounced Back in April |
NAPA Net: Experts Offer Take on Regulatory Uncertainties |
The Motley Fool: 72% of Older Workers Worry They’ll Never Collect Social Security. Are They Right? |
Financial Advisor IQ: Investors Hate the SEC’s Best Interest Rule Proposal |
NAPA Net: Mutual Fund and ETF Fees Saw Record Decline in 2017 |
NAPA Net: SEC Unveils Tool to Help Investors Vet Investment Advisors |
NAPA Net: Levine: 31 Flavors of ‘Fiduciary’ |
Kiplinger: True or False: A Test on Social Security Basics |

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…

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.