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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/23/18 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 11/23/18
November 26
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:
Rethinking Performance Standards (Part II – The Solution),” (, November 20, 2018) A fiduciary who only looks at the most recent reporting period stands to make an unfortunate – and potentially damaging – investment decision… and unnecessarily exposes himself and his company to a liability that can otherwise be easily avoided.

Compliance – The Definition of Insanity:
When someone it all out of ideas, they simply go back to repeating the same mistakes. Or, in the case of Hollywood, the remake what once worked to prove that success isn’t repeatable (nor desirable, if you’re a movie-goer). When they start doing that with your retirement, you need to ask yourself, “What’s in your wallet.”
State-Sponsored Retirement Plan Now Open to Individuals,” (401K Specialist, November 16, 2018) Because individuals have no option to open an individual retirement account. /sarcasm Seriously, though, doesn’t the state have monopoly powers and shouldn’t the Federal Trade Commission prevent them from entering a private market? Oh, wait. The Feds only control interstate matters. What happens inside a state, stays inside a state.
401k Hardship Withdrawals May Be Less of a Hardship,” (401K Specialist, November 19, 2018) Or will it?
MyRA Makes A Comeback (No, Seriously),” (401K Specialist, November 20, 2018) What’s that definition of insanity? Trying the same thing and expecting different results.

Fiduciary – Latest From the Front Lines…:
The Battle for Fiduciary is an ongoing conflict occurring on multiple fronts. Oddly, though, we’re only beginning to find the results of the “lost cause” effort of the DOL Rule have been more favorable than expected. Perhaps this should be considered in the calculus of determining the strategy of the other battles.
Fred Reish: What Does ‘Best Interest’ Really Mean?” (401K Specialist, November 15, 2018) File this right under “It all depends on what you mean “is” is.”
NASAA President Wants SEC to Set Higher Standards For Brokers,” (Financial Advisor, November 16, 2018) Um, sure, but, as always, the devil is in the details.
New Jersey Hears Testimony on Fiduciary Proposal,” (Wealth Management, November 19, 2018) This issue is state-based fiduciary rules will create an unmanageable compliance patchwork. Maybe. Or maybe all interstate businesses will simply adopt to most stringent fiduciary rule out there, just to be safe. The patchwork is only a problem for those attempting to circumvent the true fiduciary standard.
DOL Fiduciary Rule Helped Reduce Conflicts in Fund Sales: Morningstar,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 21, 2018) Yes, but is there enough momentum for this “existing trend” to continue without the Rule?

Fees – Stupid is as Stupid Does:
Those who think “Index Funds” are a panacea haven’t read page two of the prospectus.
The Persistence of High-Fee Index Funds,” (Wealth Management, November 19, 2018) Now this is a fascinating topic that should be explored further.

Investments – Are We Worried Yet?:
Because that’s the best signal the sell-off has spent itself.
Stock market: Dow Jones sell-off raises investor worries,” (USA Today, November 20, 2018) Mostly because of the social proof offered by this article. It’s a disservice to long-term investors. Down markets are opportunities for dollar cost averaging to really shine. That’s the real message that should be sent.
Retirement Plans a Big Source of Mutual Fund Investing for Millennials,” (PLANSPONSOR, November 20, 2018) Ya think? This is not a man-bites-dog story.

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.
Demand for 401k Among Small Business Employees Isn’t Going Away,” (401K Specialist, November 15, 2018)
Most Claims in Franklin Templeton Self-Dealing Suit Moved Forward,” (PLANADVISER, November 19, 2018)
Setting Defaults and Auto-Escalations Too Low May Undermine their Power,” (PLANADVISER, November 19, 2018)
Gig economy gives retirees new alternatives to retirement years,” (Financial Planning, November 20, 2018)
ERISA Industry Stakeholders Analyze Auto-Portability Potential,” (PLANADVISER, November 20, 2018)
5 facts explain why small employers don’t sponsor retirement plans – and why they would,” (BenefitsPRO, November 20, 2018)
Equity Compensation Plan Participants Could Be Holding Too Much Company Stock,” (PLANADVISER, November 20, 2018)
Year-End Tax Action: Boost Retirement Savings to Maximize 199A Deduction,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 21, 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.
These common scams target seniors—how to avoid them,” (MarketWatch, November 15, 2018)
90 percent of American men are confident they can manage money,” (CNBC, November 15, 2018)
What’s the Key to a Better Retirement? Have a ‘Planning Mindset’ Now,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 15, 2018)
Four Important Tips To Help Clients Teach Their Kids About Money,” (Financial Advisor, November 16, 2018)
Should I convert my retirement accounts to a Roth?” (MarketWatch, November 16, 2018)
DC Plan Participant Retirement Confidence Reaches All-Time Highs,” (Financial Advisor, November 16, 2018)
Here’s how to overcome poor retirement planning,” (CNBC, November 18, 2018)
The Millennial Disconnect: Ideal Retirement Age vs. Likely Savings,” (ThinkAdvisor, November 18, 2018)
Watch out for these 10 ‘retirement killers’,” (MarketWatch, November 19, 2018)
How Much Should You Rely On Social Security Benefit Estimates?” (Forbes, November 20, 2018)
Why nearly 3 in 4 women say ‘70 is the new 50’ – but far fewer men do,” (MarketWatch, November 20, 2018)
Survey: Envision Your Retirement To Save More,” (, November 20, 2018)
Setting Retirement Date May Be Useless, Educators Say,” (Financial Advisor, November 21, 2018)
Retirement Confidence Waning, Study Says,” (Financial Advisor, November 21, 2018)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: The Boogeyman of MEPs |
Data “Points”: A ‘Retirement Ready’ Thanksgiving List |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
Morningstar: Why You Should Consider a Backdoor Roth IRA |
The Motley Fool: No, Your Expenses Probably Won’t Go Way Down in Retirement |
NAPA Net: Senate Finance Democrats Unveil Bill to Boost Saver’s Credit, Resurrect MyRA |
NAPA Net: Small Employers Cite Cost, Limited Understanding for Not Offering Retirement Plan |
NAPA Net: ‘Planning Mindset’ Helps Workers’ Retirement Savings Thrive |
NAPA Net: Advance Copies of 2018 Form 5500 Released |
The Motley Fool: 4 Tax Surprises You Might Face in Retirement |
NAPA Net: Cali Comments on CalSavers ERISA Preemption Challenge |
NAPA Net: A ‘Retirement Ready’ Thanksgiving List |
NAPA Net: HSA Dropouts Costing Employers $$ |
NAPA Net: Americans Still Have High Hopes for Retiring Early |
Morningstar: What a Still Lofty Market Means for IRA Conversions |
Morningstar: Social Security Benefits Going Up – But Not for Everyone |
NAPA Net: Plaintiffs Drop Claims Against Matrix in TPA Suit |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: Retirement Savings Tax Credit |

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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