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Top 5 Stories in 2018 for the 401k Plan Sponsor and Fiduciary

Top 5 Stories in 2018 for the 401k Plan Sponsor and Fiduciary
December 18
00:03 2018

Judging from the most widely read articles in, the year 2018 may go down as the year when everyone just wanted to know what to do. How did they do this? They searched to find what other people were doing. Actually, they read news stories that explained what other people were doing. Like the news stories often found in

We’ve compiled the most popular of those articles from the past twelve months. Here’s the countdown for you edification. Read. Enjoy. Learn.

Honorable Mention:
These stories didn’t quite make the cut in the top five, but they were close. They’ll definitely prime you for the top five.

Top Stories in 2018 – Honorable Mention #3:What Plan Sponsors Must Do To Avoid Fiduciary Liability From These 3 Common Fee Blunders,” (, June 5, 2018)
The simplest of mistakes can often lead to the most agonizing of consequences. That’s the downside. The upside is that it’s simple to prevent and avoid simple mistakes. This article belongs in the “Winning by not Losing” file.

Top Stories in 2018 – Honorable Mention #2:What Every Company 401k Plan Fiduciary Needs to Know about MEPs,” (, September 25, 2018)
President Trump had just directly the DOL to propose new rules regrading 401k MEPs and interest in the topic surged. Truth be told, there’s always been interest in the topic. It was the subject of one of our “Top Five” articles last year. This story reestablished some ground rules about what these attractive plans offered. As of this writing, we’re still waiting for Congress to deliver on their bipartisan promise to formally establish these universal plans. Their incessant delays likely represented the cause of Trump’s decision to act on the MEP through the DOL.

Top Stories in 2018 – Honorable Mention #1:Must Read for the Summer: Top Fiduciary Questions 401k Plan Sponsors Must Ask (But Sometimes Don’t),” (, July 3, 2018)
Today we call them “memes” but generations ago copywriters on Madison Avenue called them “attention grabbing headlines.” These general purpose snippets lured the reader in with the promise of interesting and helpful information. When the copy delivered on its promise, more people read the piece. This article apparently delivered as it was one of the most popular of the year.

The Top Five 2018 Stories:
Here’s the countdown you’ve been waiting for. Why do you think these particular stories were so widely read? What does that fact tell you about the interests of plan sponsors, their service providers, and retirement industry regulators? The articles that caught the greatest interest may indicate not only answers people seek but future directions they intend to go. Let’s take a look.

Top Stories in 2018 – #5:When Must a Fiduciary Say ‘No’ to No-Fee Funds?” (, October 2, 2018)
On the heels of an announcement by Fidelity that the mutual fund giant would begin offering “no-fee” index funds, there was a race to discover “what’s the watch?”. This was one of the first media reports to question “no-fee” funds from a fiduciary perspective. It confirms the old adage “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Top Stories in 2018 – #4:7 Rules Every Professional Fiduciary Must Follow,” (, August 7, 2018)
How many times have you surrendered to great frustration and said, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it”? We all experience times when we just want to follow instructions. This article wonderfully captures that angst as it pertains to professional fiduciaries. It came out at a time when, the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule having been recently vacated, left many wondering what to do. Fortunately, there was an instruction manual long before the DOL decided to write a new one.

Top Stories in 2018 – #3:7 Concerns on the Forefront of 401k Plan Sponsors’ Minds Right Now,” (, November 27, 2018)
It’s rare when an article published late in the year manages to land in the top ten most read stories of the year. This makes this piece’s top 3 finish all the more impressive. This can be attributed to both the urgency of the headline and the compelling content which meticulously describes the how’s and why’s of these very relevant plan sponsor concerns.

Top Stories in 2018 – #2:How Financial Pros Teach Their Own Kids About Money,” (, April 3, 2018)
Interest in IRAs peaks each year as we approach the April 15th deadline for contributions. This detailed article tapped into that interest but also capitalized on the growing interest in Child IRAs. These popular vehicles, outlined in the then newly published book From Cradle to Retirement: The Child IRA – How to start a newborn on the road to a comfortable retirement while still in a cozy cradle, both help children save for retirement and learn important financial lessons.

Top Stories in 2018 – #1:5 Examples of Self-Dealing Transactions that are Prohibited as a Result of Fiduciary Duty,” (, July 31, 2018)
This was the top story for 2018 and it wasn’t even close. Appearing shortly after it was clear the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule would remain vacated, there was increased interest in what remained “dangerous” to do if you were a fiduciary. Self-dealing has long been banned when a fiduciary relationship exists, but it’s often unclear what represents self-dealing. This article offers practical operational samples to help fiduciaries know and understand exactly what to avoid.

If you think the matters discussed in these articles are important, just wait until next week when we present the top five All-Time articles!

Christopher Carosa is a keynote speaker, journalist, and the author of  401(k) Fiduciary SolutionsHey! What’s My Number? How to Improve the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort, From Cradle to Retirement: The Child IRA – How to start a newborn on the road to a comfortable retirement while still in a cozy cradle, and several other books on innovative retirement solutions, practical business tips, and the history of the wonderful Western New York region. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Mr. Carosa is available for keynote speaking engagements, especially in venues located in the Northeast, MidAtantic and Midwestern regions of the United States and in the Toronto region of Canada

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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