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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 8/24/18 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 8/24/18
August 27
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: MoneyTrack’s Pam Krueger Says It’s Time for Industry and Regulators to ‘Pick a Lane’,” (FiduciaryNewscom, August 21, 2018) “Pick a lane… please. Why is the SEC living in the land of ambiguity? Lead, follow, or step aside. I may not agree with Ken Fisher very often but on this point, I believe he nailed it…”

Compliance – Dependency Downers:
Look, it’s just as plain as plain can be. You can ever depend on the kindness of strangers. It’s like Russian Roulette. Sooner or later, the chamber won’t be empty. And then it’s too late.
Illinois Secure Choice 401k Program More Fragile Than Thought,” (The 401(k) Specialist, August 20, 2018) Um, did anyone bother to look at their state employee pension program?
A Massive 401k Mission Creep Mistake,” (The 401(k) Specialist, August 21, 2018) This is how Social Security met its demise – using retirement trust funds for things other than retirement.
Millennials Could Be Hit Hard By Delaying Social Security Fix, Says Bipartisan Think Tank,” (Forbes, August 22, 2018) Of course they could. And if not them, then the next generation. Or the one after that. Sooner or later, the “kick the can down the road” attitude will eventually run out of road. And the further in the future that happens, the greater the price will be to fix it. Better to take our lumps now and get rid of this ancient Ponzi Scheme. BTW, smart millennials are already taking action so they don’t have to rely on Social Security.

Fiduciary – Keeping It Simple:
Whether it’s promoting the fiduciary standard or protecting yourself from the ravages of fiduciary liability, it’s all about keeping things simple and on point. Oh, and when it comes to making it easier for the general public, keep it simple this way: Folks have only one head, so they don’t need more than one hat. Make ‘em pick it.
After SEC’s Regulation Best Interest, it’s up to RIAs to spread fiduciary standard,” (Financial Planning, April 17, 2018) Bob Veres lays it all out plain and simple with the bluntness of a sledge hammer.
Tort Terror Schlichter Files Second Duke Fiduciary Suit,” (The 401K Specialist, August 22, 2018) It’s formally about “excessive fees” but it’s really about self-dealing.
Fiduciary doesn’t need disclosure, it needs only this – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, August 22, 2018) Does the cookbook tell us how to cook or how to cook us?

Fees – Here We Go Again:
Read. Say. Repeat. “Expense ratios are operating expenses, not fees…”
401k Participants Have a Severe Fund Fee Focus,” (The 401K Specialist, August 15, 2018) Lets’s hope they’re not forsaking good investment decisions as a result.
How to avoid hidden retirement fees,” (CNBC, August 18, 2018) Misleading headline. This article isn’t about fees, it’s about expense ratios. Very disappointing that a major financial news source would make this rookie mistake.

Investments – More on Sticking to the Basics:
It’s funny how old ideas can get recycled when people finally realize that they made sense in the first place.
Volatility is back. Are your retirement investments ready?” (MarketWatch, August 17, 2018) Which adage is more appropriate here: “One man’s volatility is another mans’ opportunity” or “Volatility is in the eyes of the beholder”?
Total return: Does investment strategy in retirement need rethinking?” (USA Today, August 22, 2018) Everything old is new again.

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.
Plaintiff Asks Court to Amend NYU 403(b) Plans Lawsuit Decision,” (PLANADVISER, August 16, 2018)
Automatic Enrollment Helping Participants Increase Retirement Savings,” (PLANADVISER, August 16, 2018)
Merrill Lynch Pays $8.9 Million To Settle Conflict Of Interest Charges,” (Financial Advisor, August 20, 2018)
Voya Again Wins Dismissal of Stable Value ERISA Lawsuit,” (PLANADVISER, August 20, 2018)
Details of Deutsche Bank ERISA Class Action Settlement Emerge,” (PLANADVISER, August 20, 2018)
Second Lawsuit Over Duke University 403(b) Plan Filed,” (PLANADVISER, August 22, 2018)
Suits Filed In $100 Million Retirement Scheme,” (Financial Advisor, August 23, 2018)
Retirement Outcomes of Cashed Out Plan Participants Worse Than Missing Participants,” (PLANADVISER, August 23, 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.
Saving for Retirement Is Americans’ Biggest Financial Worry,” (PLANADVISER, August 16, 2018)
Retirement Is Out, Unretirement Is In,” (The 401(k) Specialist, August 16, 2018)
5 conversations to have about retirement before leaving work for good,” (BenefitsPRO, August 17, 2018)
New retirees: Don’t overlook this tax-planning sweet spot,” (CNBC, August 17, 2018)
Will Middle Class Workers Sink Their Retirement?” (The 401(k) Specialist, August 17, 2018)
The Most Common Misunderstandings Retirees Have About Their Finances, Part 2,” (Financial Advisor, August 21, 2018)
Majority of young workers have already tapped their retirement savings,” (CNBC, August 21, 2018)
The Math Behind the 15% Recommended Savings Rate,” (PLANADVISER, August 21, 2018)
10 Simple Ways For Clients To Make Money In Retirement,” (Financial Advisor, August 21, 2018)
Words Matter: How People in Different Demos Describe Retirement,”  (The 401(k) Specialist, August 21, 2018)
Americans Are Saving More for Retirement, But …,” (The 401(k) Specialist, August 22, 2018)
What happens if you die with no IRA beneficiary? You probably don’t want to find out,” (MarketWatch, August 22, 2018)
How to fund your charitable giving in retirement,” (CBS News, August 22, 2018)
Many Gen Xers, Gen Yers Maxing Out Retirement Savings,” (PLANADVISER, August 22, 2018)
The 10 commandments of retirement,” (MarketWatch, August 23, 2018)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
RetirementRevised: A tax-smart way for retirees to give to charity |
Ary Rosenbaum: How 401k Plan Sponsors Can Improve Their Plan On A Shoestring |
Fred Reish: Hearing on Retirement Income by the ERISA Advisory Council |
RetirementRevised: Idea of payroll deductions to meet emergency needs gains steam |
Ary Rosenbaum: 401k Plan Sponsors Have To Provide Education And Advice To Participants |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Federal Judge Sends Scottrade Case Back |
NAPA Net: 401k Account Balances Rebound from First Quarter Volatility |
NAPA Net: Survey of Employers Finds Low Confidence in Employees’ Retirement Security |
Kiplinger: New Tax Rates Could Help Defuse Your Tax Time Bomb |
NAPA Net: IRS Okays Amending a 401k Plan to Include a Student Loan Benefit Program |
NAPA Net: ‘Automatic’ Transmission: Does Auto-Enrollment Create Leakage? |
NAPA Net: Young Adults Expect to Retire at 60, But Debt May Stand in the Way |
Kiplinger: Avoiding the Storms in Your Retirement Portfolio |
NAPA Net: Stable Value Suit Survives Second Salvo |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Changes to Hardship Distributions for 2019 |
NAPA Net: Millennials’ Unexpected Retirement Savings and Advice Preferences |
Morningstar: Am I Too Old for an IRA Conversion? |
NAPA Net: Duke Slapped with Second Suit |
NAPA Net: Financial Wellness Key to Addressing Financial Literacy, Hill Panel Told |
NAPA Net: Young ‘Super Savers’ Max Out Their Retirement Accounts |
The Motley Fool: More Americans Are Increasing Retirement Savings, Survey Shows |
NAPA Net: Cash Balance Plans Top $1 Trillion |
NAPA Net: READER POLL: Employers More Fee Conscious, But Structures, Service Stay Steady |
NAPA Net: That Uncertain Age |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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