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What do you think of our site upgrade? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 5/24/19 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 5/24/19
May 28
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:
The One Topic Every 401k Plan Sponsor Must Know Right Now: Fiduciary Education Curriculum (Part III),” (, May 21, 2019) Most 401k plan sponsors will readily admit they are not experts when it comes to retirement plans. They understand they have a role in the process. They understand that role carries with it certain fiduciary obligations. They understand (and accept) that role also exposes them to liabilities. This article shows how prudent delegation can mitigate much of that fiduciary liability.

Other Top Stories:
Do we teach investing anymore? Should we?” (BenefitsPRO, May 20, 2019)
Why 16-year-olds may want to start saving for retirement,” (Yahoo Finance Video, May 20, 2019)
The push to enroll 16-year-olds in retirement accounts,” (Yahoo Finance, May 21, 2019)
3 Reasons College May Destroy Your Chance For A Comfortable Retirement,” (, May 22, 2019)

Compliance – It’s Beginning:
All other news was swept aside by the house passing the SECURE Act. Next stop is the Senate, where they are expected to pass a similar bill in the next week or so. Then it’s on to reconciling the two bills. Then we’ll see what we really end up with. While we’re closer to the end, we remain in the speculation phase. So be careful.
IRS Determination Letter Program Remains Limited in Scope,” (PLANADVISER, May 17, 2019) Well, at least it’s better than nothing, which is what it was before.
Congress gets serious about retirement saving,” (MarketWatch, May 18, 2019) Are they? Are they really? Or are they just serious about rattling the old retirement saving sabre?
Senators Show 401ks Some Love on Capitol Hill,” (401K Specialist, May 20, 2019) Isn’t that special.
How Congress wants to change the way we save for retirement,” (Yahoo Finance, May 20, 2019)
A Call for Mandated Financial Literacy Programs in the Workplace,” (401K Specialist, May 20, 2019) Because everyone wants to go back to school!
House Passes Secure Act Retirement Bill,” (ThinkAdvisor, May 23, 2019) And away we go! This is the first in a series of articles that cover the subject.
SECURE Act passes out of House by near-unanimous vote,” (BenefitsPRO, May 23, 2019)
U.S. House Passes ‘Critical’ SECURE Act,” (Wealth Management, May 23, 2019)
House passes SECURE Act retirement bill,” (Employee Benefit News, May 23, 2019)
House Votes To Ease Rules For IRAs, Makes Fixes To Trump Tax Law,” (Financial Advisor, May 23, 2019)
SECURE Act’s House Passage Brings Test of Congressional Mediators,” (PLANADVISER, May 23, 2019)

Fiduciary – BI Coming, DOL Following:
Not to be left behind by Congressional action, the SEC is hinting it may beat the Senate in coming out with its Final Regulation BI Rule. We’ll see. Meanwhile, the DOL says the Fiduciary is not dead yet. It just has a little head cold.
SEC Official Insists Reg BI Will Toughen Rules For Brokers,” (Financial Advisor, May 17, 2019) Promises, promises.
SEC Regulation Best Interest sparks BD-RIA debate,” (Financial Planning, May 17, 2019) In debates like these, the one arguing for the regulation tends to benefit the most from that regulation.
Monitoring States’ Fiduciary Moves,” (Wealth Management, May 21, 2019) Because someone has to do it.
DOL Fiduciary Rule Release Set for December,” (ThinkAdvisor, May 23, 2019) Again with the Waiting for Godot motif.
DOL Pushes Fiduciary Rulemaking Plan To December,” (Financial Advisor, May 23, 2019) More of the same.
DOL Regulatory Agenda Shows Proposed Fiduciary Rule Expected in December,” (PLANADVISER, May 23, 2019) Third time’s a charm!

Fees – Crickets:
Who knew?

Investments – More Sizzle, Less Steak:
Here’s the weird thing: Modern Portfolio Theory stressed accounting fundamentals just like Graham and Dodd said to. Behavioral finance suggests something entirely different. While the former said “focus only on the real meat of the numbers,” the latter says “it’s only investors’ minds that matter.”
ESG Investing: Facing Headwinds or Backed by Tailwinds?” (401K Specialist, May 16, 2019) Folks are definitely attracted to the aroma of the sizzle, but there’s precious little meat when you dig deeper.
Passive Management Assets Catch Active After 12-Year Chase,” (401K Specialist, May 17, 2019) But the Great John Bogle said this could never happen!
Investors Want Conclusive ESG Performance Information,” (PLANADVISER, May 23, 2019) That latest research contradicts less recent research, throwing into doubt the conclusions of that less recent research. It now appears ESG-centric investing comes at a cost, just as studies during the 1980s concluded about the social investing fads back then.

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.
Unrelated Taxable Income and Pensions,” (PLANADVISER, March/April 2019)
An IPS Is Not Required,” (PLANADVISER, March /April 2019)
When Savers Exceed the Limit,” (PLANADVISER, March/April 2019)
How Do 401ks Stack Up For Investment Firm Employees?” (401K Specialist, May 17, 2019)
Later would have been better, say Social Security recipients,” (BenefitsPRO, May 17, 2019)
Actions Individuals, Employers and Governments Can Take to Improve Retirement Readiness,” (PLANADVISER, May 20, 2019)
Gen Z is Coming: What 401k Advisors Need to Know,” (401K Specialist, May 20, 2019)
Participants’ Satisfaction with Providers Continues to Decline,” (PLANADVISER, May 21, 2019)
Average Self-Directed Brokerage Account Jumped 8.7% in Q119,” (PLANADVISER, May 21, 2019)
Financial Illiteracy Challenges Those Investing Only in DC Plans,” (PLANADVISER, May 22, 2019)
It’s Important to Understand PRT Balance Sheet Hits,” (PLANADVISER, May 22, 2019)
Q1 Pension Buyout Volume Sets Record Pace,” (PLANADVISER, May 22, 2019)
Crisis of Confidence Hits Retirement Plan Participants: J.D. Power,” (ThinkAdvisor, May 23, 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.
If I Had a Million Dollars,” (PLANADVISeR, March/April 2019)
Parents Are Risking Their Retirement for Kids’ Sports Training,” (Wealth Management, May 15, 2019)
Why Working Till Whenever Is a Risky Retirement Strategy,” (The New York Times, May 16, 2019)
Retirement: Why people are retiring earlier than planned,” (USA Today, May 16, 2019)
Snags come with health savings accounts and claiming Social Security,” (CNBC, May 16, 2019)
Retirees Beware: IRS Pension Buyout Stance Shifts (Again),” (ThinkAdvisor, May 17, 2019)
5 Costs Taking Biggest Share of Retiree Budgets,” (401K Specialist, May 17, 2019)
Don’t Forget About Retirement Cash Flow,” (ThinkAdvisor, May 17, 2019)
AARP: Student Loan Debt Endangering Retirements For Those Over 50,” (Financial Advisor, May 20, 2019)
Financial Stress Flows Up and Down the Generations,” (PLANADVISER, May 20, 2019)
5 new facts about Social Security’s 2018 earnings,” (BenefitsPRO, May 20, 2019)
Retirees say, ‘We’re doing okay.’ Experts refuse to listen,” (, May 20, 2019)
Don’t lowball your retirement income like these Americans,” (MarketWatch, May 20, 2019)
How your parents prepared for retirement can influence your savings behavior,” (BenefitsPRO, May 21, 2019)
Retirement: Age gap creates planning wrinkles,” (The San Diego Union-Tribune, May 21, 2019)
Tax reform ruined Roth IRA conversions, but hope exists,” (BenefitsPRO, May 21, 2019)
59% of Retirees Use Social Security as a Major Source of Income – and That’s a Problem,” (Fox Business, May 21, 2019)
Ready to try a retirement ‘internship’?” (BenefitsPRO, May 21, 2019)
In Some States 15% Of The Population Collects Social Security,” (Financial Advisor, May 22, 2019)
Would-be retirees miscalculate Social Security benefit estimates,” (BenefitsPRO, May 22, 2019)
You’re probably not ready to retire — psychologically,” (MarketWatch, May 23, 2019)
Social Security Administration says 15% of population collects Social Security,” (Financial Planning, May 23, 2019)
Job hopping a challenge to portable 401k retirement benefits,” (Employee Benefit News, May 24, 2019)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Data “Points”: A Good Example |
Squared Away Blog: Retirement Dates Don’t Always Fit Plan |
Fred Reish: Best Practices for Plan Sponsors #8 |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Student loan match legislation proposed |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: The curse of social media |
Squared Away Blog: Student Loan Payments Linked to 401ks |
The Retirement Plan Blog: The elephant in the room for ERISA purposes could be that “other” company |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Just keep an open mind and listen |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Keep track of former participants |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: A majority of plan have automatic enrollment, but some work to do |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Cut through the fiduciary advertising and make sure you get what you were promised |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
National Association of Plan Advisors: How Do Money Managers’ Own 401k Plans Compare? |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Myths and Information Gap Seen Inhibiting ESG Investing in 401k Plans |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Retirement Security Focus of House Budget Committee Hearing |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Schlichter Seeks to Disqualify Wagner as Expert Witness |
National Association of Plan Advisors: 4 Fiduciary Lessons from the Game of Thrones |
National Association of Plan Advisors: ERISA Advisory Council to Review State Unclaimed Property Fund Procedures |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Concerns About Finances in Retirement Extend Globally |
The Motley Fool: The Shocking Number of Americans Without a Retirement Account |
National Association of Plan Advisors: House Moves a Step Closer to Approving SECURE Act |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Case of the Week: Contribution Limits for Combined DB/DC Plans |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Self-Directed 401k Balances Rally Around Strong Market Performance |
National Association of Plan Advisors: 13 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Retirement Savings |
The Motley Fool: Which Types of Assets Should You Spend First in Retirement? |
National Association of Plan Advisors: A Target Date for DOL Fiduciary Rule Redo? |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Dragons and Leprechauns |
National Association of Plan Advisors: House Bill Would Ease Regulatory Burden on Small Investment Advisers |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Which Industry Has the Best 401k? | HSAs: The Convergence Between Health and Retirement |
National Association of Plan Advisors: SEC Sets Date for Reg BI, Form CRS Review |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Reader Poll: The Best is Yet to Come As I Take This Job and Shove It When I’m 64 and Have the Time of Your Life Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay |
National Association of Plan Advisors: House Overwhelmingly Backs SECURE Act; Focus Now Turns to Senate |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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