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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/07/18 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/07/18
December 10
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:
Top 5 Challenges Too Many 401k Plan Sponsors Aren’t Aware of,” (, December 4, 2018) It’s safer to assume you don’t know everything – and here’s a list that begins to define that everything.

Compliance – Nero and Kentucky:
Nero fiddling while Washington burned. In the meantime, Kentucky fiddles in a different way – one that generates actual music.
Will Lame-Duck Session Deliver Solution to Multiemployer Pension Crisis?” (PLANADVISER, November 30, 2018) More idle talk. Will this time be any different?
A grand experiment in retirement savings gets under way in California,” (San Francisco Chronicle, December 1, 2018) Some may think the source would merely gush over the program, but this is an incredibly balanced article. There are real problems with this proposal. For one, it’s under a legal challenge. There’s also some question whether the it’s needed and whether it actually harms the finances of, especially low earning, employees.
If Pension Bill Struck Down, Ky. Republicans Say They’ll Pass A New One,” (WVXU, December 4, 2018) While all the press seems to be on state-sponsored retirement plans for private employees, the real news may be coming from Kentucky. This is an example of a state attempting to tackle a real problem – the expanding liability of state employee defined benefit plans.
3 government announcements that help small businesses offer retirement & benefits,” (BenefitsPRO, December 6, 2018) A good concise summary of what’s been going on for those all caught up in what hasn’t been going on.

Fiduciary – Plato’s Cave:
All we are seeing right now are the shadows on the wall of Washington making sausage. We won’t know if that sausage will have any beef to it or if it will merely be the usual pork.
UBS ends fiduciary-era pay policy, drops non-solicit language,” (On Wall Street, December 3, 2018) Now that a fence has once again me erected, folks are deciding which side they will fall in on. The market will determine their fate resulting from that decision.
Insurers sought to weaken retirement investment rule, letters show,” (POLITICO, December 5, 2018) This was how the sausage was made in New York State.

Fees – When the Market’s Falling…:
…that’s what gets all the news. Nobody cares about fees because they’re willing to pay more to reduce the downside.

Investments – What? Index Funds are Bad?:
Is this the part of the movie when the monster destroys its creator? Pass the popcorn!
Wait, What? John Bogle Raises Passive Red Flags,” (401K Specialist, December 3, 2018) Two years ago when we brought this idea to Bogle’s attention, he downplayed it. Now he seems to be a little be more concerned. And rightfully so.
Maintaining Balance in Retirement Accounts,” (The New York Times, December 4, 2018) The market’s down so it’s time to talk about putting more bonds in your portfolio. Wait. Bonds are down, too. D’oh!

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.
2019 Planning for DC Plan Clients,” (PLANADVISER, November 30, 2018)
How to Be More Efficient in 401k Education Outreach,” (401K Specialist, December 3, 2018)
KKR, Blackstone Lose Bid To Dismiss Kentucky Pension Lawsuit,” (Financial Advisor, December 3, 2018)
5 Ideas to Push 401k Auto Innovation Forward,” (401K Specialist, December 3, 2018)
Lawsuit Charging Aon Hewitt With Taking ‘Kickbacks’ From Financial Engines Is Closed,” (PLANADVISER, December 3, 2018)
Major 401k Financial Wellness Messaging Fail,” (401K Specialist, December 3, 2018)
Employee Knowledge Levels Indicate Need for Financial Wellness Education,” (PLANADVISER, December 4, 2018)
BB&T agrees to pay $24 mln to settle lawsuit over 401k,” (Reuters, December 4, 2018)
5 Good Reasons to Fire a 401k TPA,” (401K Specialist, December 4, 2018)
A wealth-building tool more coveted than a 401k plan by employees,” (CNBC, December 4, 2018)
Plan sponsors’ year-end review can prompt worries – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, December 4, 2018)
Settlement Proposed in BB&T ERISA Self-Dealing Litigation,” (PLANADVISER, December 4, 2018)
2018 retirement industry timeline: 13 important things that happened,” (BenefitsPRO, December 4, 2018)
Attorneys Report Settlement in Duke University 403(b) Plan Cases,” (PLANADVISER, December 5, 2018)
Would rank-and-file 401k savers benefit from working with an advisor?” (BenefitsPRO, December 5, 2018)
From HSA to 401k contribution limits, 11 numbers to know for 2019,” (Employee Benefit News, December 6, 2018)
3 tips to guide an employer’s search for a retirement plan advisor,” (BenefitsPRO, December 6, 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.
The Myth of Steady Retirement Spending, and Why Reality May Cost Less,” (The New York Times, November 26, 2018)
Most young workers are treating retirement accounts like it’s an ATM,” (CNBC, November 30, 2018)
IRI Publishes Retirement Income Education for Participants,” (PLANADVISER, November 30, 2018)
5 Important Year-End Strategies To Cut Your Tax Bills Now,” (Forbes, December 1, 2018)
401k investors: What to do if you don’t get a company match,” (USA Today, December 2, 2018)
DOL To Help Job Hoppers With High-Stakes 401k Choices,” (Forbes, December 3, 2018)
USC Files Petition for Supreme Court to Review 9th Circuit’s Refusal to Compel Arbitration,” (PLANADVISER, December 3, 2018)
Are Retirement Income Fears Overblown?” (ThinkAdvisor, December 3, 2018)
Why the World Needs to Rethink Retirement,” (The New York Times, December 4, 2018)
Many Americans dream of retirement but lack a game plan,” (CNBC, December 4, 2018)
Nearly 40% Of Retirees Overspend, Survey Says,” (Financial Advisor, December 4, 2018)
Deadlines for military retirement plan, Tricare retiree benefits coming,” (BenefitsPRO, December 4, 2018)
Many Retirees Spending More Than They Expected,” (PLANADVISER, December 4, 2018)
Probate, Shmobate: Importance of Keeping 401k Beneficiary Info Up-to-Date,” (401K Specialist, December 4, 2018)
The New 50s: Far From Retirement,” (The New York Times, December 4, 2018)
6 last-minute tips that will trim your 2018 tax bill,” (CNBC, December 5, 2018)
Ask Your Employer For This Powerful 401k Upgrade,” (Forbes, December 6, 2018)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: HSAs should be part of an advisor’s business |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Maybe a 401k Salary Deferral Procedure should be a thing? |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Keep it Simple, Stupid |
Squared Away Blog: Home Equity Offers Big Boost to Retirees |
PSCA: I’m Dreaming of a … Well Funded Pension |
PSCA: Retirement Investing At The Summit – Investing When Equity Markets Are At All Time Highs |
PSCA: Impediments to Saving for Retirement – The Barriers, Part 1 |
PSCA: Impediments to Saving for Retirement – Part 2 – The Solution? The Right Kind of Liquidity |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
The Motley Fool: Claiming Social Security at 62? A Roth IRA Can Prevent Pitfalls |
NAPA Net: 401k Robo Advisor Class Action Closed |
NAPA Net: Value Benefits More Than a Bump in Salary? |
NAPA Net: November No Turkey for the Average 401k Balance |
NAPA Net: Do Americans Really Value Benefits More Than Increased Salary? |
NAPA Net: IRS Okays Hurricane-Related Plan Loans and Hardship Distributions |
NAPA Net: $24 Million Settlement Struck in Excessive Fee Suit |
NAPA Net: Duke Strikes a Deal in Excessive Fee Suit |
NAPA Net: OregonSaves Gears Up to Auto-Escalate |
NAPA Net: Case of the Week: What’s a Long-Term Incentive Plan? |
NAPA Net: Are Older Financial Advisors More Tech Savvy Than You Think? |
NAPA Net: Financial Wellness Initiatives: Broad Interest, But Little Consensus |
Morningstar: High Earners Juggle Retirement, College Funding |
The Motley Fool: Social Security Is Millions of Retirees’ Main Income Source. That’s a Problem. |
NAPA Net: 6 Practical Communication Strategies for Advisors, Part 2 |
NAPA Net: 2019 Investor Outlook: Smooth Sailing or Bumpy Ride? |
NAPA Net: Can Utilizing Behavioral Change Theory Boost Financial Wellness? |
NAPA Net: Study Finds ‘Mum’s the Word’ When It Comes to ‘Money Talk’ |
The Motley Fool: Can You Save for Retirement While Putting Your Kids Through College? |
Kiplinger: 10 Smart Steps to Minimize Taxes and Penalties on Your RMDs |
NAPA Net: Fate of Lame Duck Retirement Package Remains Hazy |
NAPA Net: Readers Know the Value of Their Benefits, But Workers Generally? |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


  1. LarkspurRixtrema
    LarkspurRixtrema December 13, 10:47

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