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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 8/3/18 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 8/3/18
August 06
00:04 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:
5 Examples of Self-Dealing Transactions that are Prohibited as a Result of Fiduciary Duty,” (, July 31, 2018) While the fiduciary should be fairly compensated, the fiduciary is prohibited from engaging in activities that might increase that compensation to the detriment of the interests of the beneficiary. Such activities represent the definition of a self-dealing transactions. Here are some examples of self-dealing transactions that, if executed, will likely result in a fiduciary breach.

Compliance – Nothing – Does This Mean We Don’t Have to Comply?:

Fiduciary – Everyone Got the Memo:
3… 2… 1… Everyone start piling on Reg BI! Well, as we’ve said before, the only good thing in it is the prohibition one the use of the title “adviser/advisor,” albeit that list should be expanded.
3 Ways SEC Reg BI Could Confuse Investors: Reish,” (ThinkAdvisor, July 31, 2018) Fred says brokers and Registered Investment Advisers might be held to different standards despite the similarity in terminology.
Reverting to old fiduciary guidance raises new questions for recommendations,” (BenefitsPRO, July 31, 2018) A good review citing past principles. A must read.
Kitces On Why The SEC’s Best Interest Proposal Violates The 40 Act,” (Financial Advisor, August 1, 2018) Very good point made by Michael Kitces. Let’s see how the SEC responds.
Crossing the fiduciary Rubicon – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, August 1, 2018) This compliments the Kitces view very nicely.
SEC Reg BI Stricter Than Fiduciary, Will Cause Brokers to Flee: Peirce,” (ThinkAdvisor, August 2, 2018) Three steps forward and two steps back. Or is it two steps forward and three steps back. There’s certainly some merit to what she says, buts she’s also blatantly wrong on certain points. The good news is she recognizes “fiduciary” is now a valid marketing claim. The bad news is that claim can be too easily abused. Ironically, that abuse occurs because regulators can’t seem to get their act together.

Fees – More Crickets:

Investments – Gone Fishin’:

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 Status of Company Matches,” (PLANADVISER, May/June 2018)
ERIC Calls on DOL to Issue Detailed Missing Participant Guidance,” (PLANADVISER, July 27, 2018)
401k Participation Surges at Small Businesses and Deferral Rates Rise,” (ThinkAdvisor, July 30, 2018)
Pioneer Money Market Performance ERISA Lawsuit Will Likely Be Amended,” (PLANADVISER, July 30, 2018)
5 benchmarks every 401k advisor needs to know,” (BenefitsPRO, July 30, 2018)
Spinning Off Separate DB Plan During Plan Year Will Not Reduce Premiums,” (PLANADVISER, July 30, 2018)
New policies needed to empower plan sponsors to think outside the box,” (Employee Benefit News, July 31, 2018)
Decreasing Plan Sponsors’ Fear of Making Certain Plan Changes,” (PLANADVISER, July 31, 2018)
Court Finds in Favor of NYU in 403(b) Plans Lawsuit,” (PLANADVISER, August 1, 2018)
Lawsuit Filed Challenging Benefit Cuts to Multiemployer Plans,” (PLANADVISER, August 2, 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.
Paying down student loans vs. saving for retirement: Here’s how to prioritize,” (CNBC, July 28, 2019)
10 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Money If You Want To Retire Earlier,” (Forbes, July 29, 2018)
4 Signs You Retired Too Early,” (Yahoo, July 29, 2018)
How to save twice your salary (or more) by age 35,” (MarketWatch, July 29, 2018)
Yes, Trump is Very Good for Your 401k (So Far),” (The 401(k) Specialist, July 30, 2018)
7 Shocking Retirement Statements That Will Jolt Your Clients,” (Financial Advisor, July 30, 2018)
Working Longer to Fund Retirement? Don’t Bank on It, Morningstar Warns,” (ThinkAdvisor, July 31, 2018)
The Most Common Misunderstandings Retirees Have About Their Finances, Part 1,” (Financial Advisor, July 31, 2018)
How Being The Bank Of Mom And Dad Can Ruin Your Retirement Finances,” (Forbes, July 31, 2018)
Chart will show you how close you are to early retirement,” (CNBC, July 31, 2018)
Retirement mistakes to avoid when changing jobs,” (Fox Business, July 31, 2018)
Women and Men Give Differently in Retirement,” (ThinkAdvisor, August 1, 2018)
Not all older workers are counting the days to retirement — many want to work,” (MarketWatch, August 1, 2018)
Putting the ‘Golden’ in Retirement: Retirees Share 6 Secrets to Financial Well-Being,” (U.S. News, August 1, 2018)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Bird’s Eye View: Kitces Public Comment Letter Re – SEC’s Regulation BI |
RetirementRevised: Exploring Social Security’s history helps debunk current myths |
Proskauer: Second Circuit Requires Reevaluation of ERISA Attorney Fee Judgment |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Know when you should go |
RetirementRevised: Beyond GE, workers own too much company stock in retirement plans |
RetirementRevised: Ohio workers’ pension fund woes are symbolic of national problem | Modernizing the U.S. Retirement System: It Takes a Village |
Fred Reish: Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #99 |
The Chicago Financial Planner: Social Security and Working – What You Need to Know |
Nerd’s Eye View: Are Tax Savings For Small Business 401k Plans Overstated? |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
NAPA Net: Plan Advisors Face Litigation Landmines |
NAPA Net: What Have You Found About Missing Participants? |
NAPA Net: Fixing Financial Education |
NAPA Net: Will Congress Enact Retirement Legislation This Year? |
NAPA Net: ‘Multiple’ Choices: All MEPs Not Created Equal |
NAPA Net: Excessive Fee Claims Don’t Need to Be Arbitrated, 9th Circuit Says |
NAPA Net: TSP-Themed ASAs Resurface in Senate Bill |
The Motley Fool: Social Security’s Up 46% Since 2000, So Why Are Retirees Poorer than Ever? |
Morningstar: What Should You Do with Your Home Equity in Retirement? |
Kiplinger: 3 Myths About Your Social Security Filing Age |
The Motley Fool: 3 Reasons You Might Be Underestimating Your Retirement Costs |
NAPA Net: Temperatures – and 401k Balances – Heated Up in July |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Suspending Plan Loan Repayments |
NAPA Net: Are TDFs Subject to Unrealistic Expectations? |
Kiplinger: A Different Kind of Diversification for Retirees |
NAPA Net: NYU Excessive Fee Suit Gets Failing Grade |
NAPA Net: The Sky is Falling! |
The Motley Fool: Even Americans With Decent Savings Worry About Running Out of Money in Retirement |
NAPA Net: Bill to Create Auto-IRA Savings Program Before NJ Legislature |
NAPA Net: READER POLL: The 411 on Missing Participants |
NAPA Net: Benefits of Financial Wellness Still Largely Misunderstood |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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