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What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/29/19 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/29/19
April 01
00:03 2019

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 Areas Where Target Date Funds Increase 401k Plan Sponsors’ Fiduciary Liability,” (, March 26, 2019) “The ruling by the First Circuit in the Putnam case further increases focus on trust law when determining the scope of fiduciary responsibility under ERISA. Prudent practice already draws on trust law and sometimes prudent practice is ahead of the courts.”

Compliance – A Mixed Bag :
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the beach…
Public-Sector Retirement Savers Could Use a Nudge, Too: Study,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 21, 2019) Yeah, that’s interesting.
4Q18 Volatility Wiped Out Funding Status Gains for DB Plans,” (PLANADVISER, March 22, 2019) There’s no news like old news.
SEC No-Action Letter Offers Guidance for Processing Rollover Checks,” (PLANADVISER, March 26, 2019) Does it? Didn’t know no-action letters could offer blanket guidance. Maybe “a clue,” but not formal guidance for anyone beyond the company that they’re directed to.
NJ Approves State-Sponsored Retirement Savings,” (Financial Advisor, March 28, 2019) Mandatory for any firm with more than 25 employees. Long live the king!

Fiduciary – SEC BI DOA?:
The sharks are circling…
Clayton Declines to Share Timetable For Best Interest Rule,” (Wealth Management, March 26, 2019) Apparently he says disclosure is sufficient. He should have a talk with Daylian Cain (see “Exclusive Interview with Yale’s Daylian Cain: Just a Sugar Pill? Disclosure’s ‘Ah-Ha!’ Moment,”, October 18, 2010).
Reg BI Readiness Questioned on All Fronts: SEC Commissioners, Trade Groups, Legislators,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 26, 2019) They’re saying Reg BI can be made to work and that the states are jumping the gun.
FINRA May Nix Suitability Rule Due to Reg BI Overlap,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 26, 2019) Trying to figure out if this is a good or a bad thing.
Rethinking the Fiduciary Role for a Digital World,” (Wealth Management, March 27, 2019) You might snicker when you read this but don’t. This is serious. It’s been long known in the newspaper business. That it might have fiduciary repercussions is an interesting legal question.
Nevada, Maryland proposals for fiduciary standards meet opposition,” (Financial Planning, March 28, 2019) Remember when it was the government vs. Microsoft? You didn’t know who cheer for (or, more likely, who to cheer most against). Does this situation feel the same way to you?

Fees – Run Silent, Run Deep:
’nuf said…

Investments – The Sequel:
Everything old is new again!
Will Retail ETF Popularity Ever Translate to Retirement Plans?” (PLANADVISER, March 22, 2019) Only when the recordkeeping systems say so.
How Do Custom Target Date Funds Measure Up?” (401K Specialist, March 24, 2019) A quick overview.
Kitces: Advisors need to update approach to risk tolerance,” (On Wall Street, March 25, 2019) It’s about your goals, not your risk. Kitces suggests aligning your goals to your risk tolerance.
Passive pendulum ready to swing for large institutional investors,” (BenefitsPRO, March 25, 2019) It’s they circle of life – or investing. With passive standing as king of the mountain for such a long time, it’s only natural that we’re growing closer to the moment when the door swings the other way.
The ‘tribble’ with target-date funds – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, March 27, 2019) They’re everywhere! They’re everywhere! But, the question is: Should they be?
Benchmarking Ability Shouldn’t Hinder DC Plan Adoption of ESG Investments,” (PLANADVISER, March 27, 2019) Or should it? No one gets a “do over” with their retirement savings. You get one shot. Wouldn’t you want to see if a drug’s formula works before ingesting it? Or are you one of those people who instinctively shouts, “bet it all!” at the TV when it comes time for the Final Jeopardy Answer?

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.
DC Assets Took Hit in Fourth Quarter Rout,” (401K Specialist, March 24, 2019)
Parties Propose Settlement on Eve of Eaton Vance ERISA Hearing,” (PLANADVISER, March 25, 2019)
New Mortality Tables Issued for 2020 DB Plan Calculations,” (PLANADVISER, March 25, 2019)
What advisors need to know about how the 403(b) market has changed over 50 years,” (BenefitsPRO, March 27, 2019)
ESOPs Offer Additional Business Opportunity for Retirement Plan Advisers,” (PLANADVISER, March 27, 2019)
Helping employers build a better 401k retirement plan,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 28, 2018)
Lump sums or life annuities for retirees,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 28, 2019)
What to know when adding a 401k to your portfolio,” (Employee Benefit Adviser, March 28, 2019)

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.
Are You A Baby Boomer Looking For Work? Where To Find The Best Opportunities,” (Forbes, March 21, 2019)
Moshe Milevsky: Are You as ‘Old’ as You Think You Are?” (ThinkAdvisor, March 21, 2019)
Council Post: Should Retirees Expect More From Their Retirement Plans?” (Forbes, March 21, 2019)
How much would financial transaction tax hit 401k savers? Scorekeepers don’t say,” (BenefitsPRO, March 22, 2019)
How to Protect Your Retirement From Your Kids,” (Barron’s, March 22, 2019)
How Much Investment Risk Can You Take In Retirement?” (Forbes, March 23, 2019)
Most people (of all ages) failed this retirement quiz — here are the answers,” (MarketWatch, March 23, 2019)
Gig Workers Report Being More Involved in Their Finances,” (PLANADVISER, March 25, 2019)
Millennials are overwhelmingly in favor of this one retirement thing,” (CNBC, March 25, 2019)
The Least Financially Secure Generation Is …,” (401K Specialist, March 25, 2019)
The 4% Retirement Rule Is Back: J.P. Morgan,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 26, 2019)
Half of Older Americans Have Nothing in Retirement Savings,” (Bloomberg, March 26, 2019)
Nearly Six in 10 Young Women Have Tapped Into Their Retirement Account,” (PLANADVISER, March 27, 2019)
Nearly half of older Americans have no 401k retirement savings,” (BenefitsPRO, March 27, 2019)
Seventy Percent of Americans Feel Financially Stressed,” (PLANADVISER, March 27, 2019)
Why Tax Time is a Good Time to Check Your Retirement Plan,” (US News, March 27, 2019)
How Technology Is Reshaping The Way Americans Prepare For Retirement,” (Forbes, March 27, 2019)
Middle-Income Americans Fret College and Retirement Costs,” (PLANADVISER, March 28, 2019)
Women Feel More Vulnerable to Retirement Risks,” (PLANADVISER, March 28, 2019)
Millennials want retirement plan financial literacy,” (Employee Benefit News, March 29, 2019)
What Will Retirement Look Like for Millennials?” (ThinkAdvisor, March 29, 2019)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: There will always be room for chocolate in this business |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Principal in talks to acquire Well Fargo’s 401k Business |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: The 401k match-student loan program is becoming a big thing, at least marketing wise |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: One way to treat clients right, make them comfortable |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Don’t let time take you out |
Squared Away Blog: Elderly Report Financial Abuse by Kids |
Squared Away Blog: How China Trade Affects Social Security |
Ary Rosenbaum: How 401k Plan Sponsors Should Deal With Plan Enrollment/Education Meetings |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
National Association of Plan Advisors: Mutual Fund Expense Ratios Continue Descent |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Catching Up on Catch-Ups |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Pacific Rim Adds to State-Sponsored Retirement Plan Earthquake |
National Association of Plan Advisors: More Employees Expect to Postpone Retirement Due to Financial Stress |
Kiplinger: How to Correct a Mistake on Your RMDs from IRAs |
The Motley Fool: 3 Retirement-Planning Tips When There’s a Large Age Gap Between You and Your Spouse |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Workers Looking to Congress and Employers for Help with Retirement Security |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Case of the Week: What’s an 83(b) Election? |
National Association of Plan Advisors: IRS Updates Operational Compliance List |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Nearly Half of Gig Workers Feel Financially Ready for Retirement |
National Association of Plan Advisors: 10th Circuit Tosses Massive ERISA Fiduciary Suit |
National Association of Plan Advisors: House Democrats Take Aim at SEC’s Proposed Retail Investor Disclosures |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Ways & Means to Move on Retirement Security and IRS Reform Bills |
National Association of Plan Advisors: ARA’s Turner-Joseph Urges House Panel to Expand Workplace Coverage |
The Motley Fool: Baby Boomers Are More Prepared for Death Than Life |
National Association of Plan Advisors: ABB, Schlichter (Finally) Settle Up |
National Association of Plan Advisors: READER POLL: Less is More with RFPs |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Judge Tackles AHP ‘End Run’ Around ACA |
National Association of Plan Advisors: ICYMI: Graff Op-Ed on Financial Transactions Tax |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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