What do you think of our site upgrade?
Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/13/19 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 12/13/19
December 16
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:
Why Are We Seeing More Cases of “Fear of Spending” Among Retirees?” (, December 10, 2019) “Perhaps, just as plan sponsors have developed onboarding programs for new hires when it comes to saving for retirement, maybe they should add ‘unboarding’ programs as a bookend for those nearing retirement.”

Other Top Stories:
401k investment policy statements more important than ever – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, December 11, 2019)
Focus On These Year-End Tax Tips Right Now,” (, December 12, 2019)

Compliance – Here We Go Again:
Why must “experts” continually bad-mouth the 401k plan?
Robbing 401k Plans To Pay Student Loans Is Tiny Tweak To Big Problem,” (Financial Advisor, December 9, 2019) It’s one of those “You can pay me now or you can pay me later” propositions.
Social Security Is A Bad Deal For Many Americans, Critics Say,” (Financial Advisor, December 11, 2019) They say the returns are lousy and you’re better off investing it yourself in a private account. But you already knew that.
Why some economists are calling 401k plans a ‘disaster’,” (CNBC, December 12, 2019) Because some people don’t have the discipline to take advantage of the 401k miracle, all must suffer by returning to era of the pension Ponzi scheme. That is the gist of this remarkably unbalanced (given the publisher) article. It’s the post child for the meme “Those who don’t learn from history…”. See below.
Football Great Furious Over Faulty NFL Pension,” (401K Specialist, December 9, 2019) This one’s going out of chronological order because it’s an apt counterpoint to the above article.

Fiduciary – Fixin’ What Ain’t Broke:
You know the end is near when they start stretching the definition of fiduciary.
Proxy Voting Update on DOL Agenda,” (PLANADVISER, December 12, 2019) Remember, the ultimate way to vote a proxy is by selling the shares. Isn’t that what a fiduciary would really do?

Fees – Yes, You Might Have Heard This Before:
It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.
Investment Fees? Some Don’t Think They Pay Any,” (Financial Advisor, December 12, 2019) As regulators squeeze down the hidden fees behind revenue sharing, they’re only going to pop up somewhere else. With the elimination of commissions, the only question is “Where?”

Investments – More Kool-Aid?:
They never stop trying to sell people stuff people want, no matter how bad it is for those people who want it.
Tactical Glide Paths,” (PLANADVISER, September/October 2019) Apparently, it’s too easy – or too tempting – for portfolio managers to diverge from the intended path.
Is Fixed Income Working?” (PLANADVISER, September/October 2019) Not if you’re depending on it for income.
New York AG Sues Manager for Fraud, Fiduciary Failure,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 6, 2019) You might be wondering why this is under the “Investments” category. Well, take a look at what was being sold.
Increased Volatility Projected for 2020, but No Recession,” (PLANADVISER, December 11, 2019) Fearless prognosticators on the loose once again.
Allow 401k plans to invest in alternative assets,” (TheHill, December 12, 2019) This would be OK if done via separate accounts with the plan sponsor absolved of all liability and the participant independently choosing the alternative investment.

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.
Data Mine—December 2019,” (PLANADVISER, December 3, 2019)
Advisers Warming Slowly to Tech-Based Communications,” (PLANADVISER, December 6, 2019)
How to maximize employee participation in HSA plans,” (Employee Benefit News, December 6, 2019)
Action Steps to Help 401k Participants Thrive in 2020,” (401K Specialist, December 9, 2019)
401k year in review: 7 highlights of 2019,” (BenefitsPRO, December 10, 2019)
Advisors See Benefits In Softer 401k Hardship Withdrawal Rules,” (Financial Advisor, December 10, 2019)
How 401k Auto Enrollment Can Lead to Lower Deferral Rates,” (401K Specialist, December 10, 2019)
Are teachers being taken to the cleaners by their retirement plans?” (BenefitsPRO, December 11, 2019)
Pension Plan Suit Against Archdiocese Will Move Forward,” (PLANADVISER, December 11, 2019)
Business Owners Dream (Wrongly) of an Easy Retirement Transition,” (PLANADVISER, December 12, 2019)
Facts You Haven’t Learned About HSAs,” (PLANADVISER, December 12, 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.
Be creative when withdrawing from retirement accounts,” (Idaho State Journal, October 29, 2019)
CEO: You need to start saving for retirement ‘right after high school’,” (Yahoo, December 3, 2019)
The Pros And Cons Of 401k Rollovers,” (, December 3, 2019)
Here’s how to gauge the true cost of just a bare-bones retirement,” (MarketWatch, December 5, 2019)
Don’t make these 8 biggest money mistakes, says financial expert,” (CNBC, December 5, 2019)
Changing Risks In Retirement, Part Two: Unknown Longevity,” (, December 6, 2019)
Council Post: Know The Rules Before You Roll Over Your Pension,” (, December 6, 2019)
Retirement: Make these 5 IRA moves before the end of 2019,” (USA Today, December 8, 2019)
Are 401k Participants Finally Getting It?” (401K Specialist, December 8, 2019)
IRA spousal contributions can mitigate cost of women’s work breaks in retirement,” (Employee Benefit News, December 9, 2019)
These people turned their side gigs into full-time jobs,” (CNBC, December 9, 2019)
Don’t Forget: Your Clients’ Social Security Benefits Are Taxed,” (ThinkAdvisor, December 10, 2019)
Don’t Give Your Kids An Inheritance, Give This Instead,” (, December 11, 2019)
7 mistakes that can ruin your retirement — and how to avoid them,” (MarketWatch, December 11, 2019)
How IRA Owners Do Retirement Planning Right,” (401K Specialist, December 12, 2019)
How Roth IRA conversions can escalate capital gains taxes,” (Financial Planning, December 12, 2019)
Why all millennials should be pursuing financial independence,” (MarketWatch, December 13, 2019)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: EBSA recovers billions for participants |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Invesco to settles lawsuit concerning their 401k plan |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Make Sure The Census Information is Correct |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Get those contracts reviewed |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: The multiple loan problem |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Investment education is all about a process |
Fred Reish: Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #20 |
Proskauer: PBGC Adopts AAA’s Amended Withdrawal Liability Arbitration Rules |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
Kiplinger: 401k and IRA Advice Especially for Women |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Coffee ‘Klatch’? Class Member Challenges Attorney ‘Take’ |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Are HSAs Part of Your Retirement Savings Story? |
National Association of Plan Advisors: E-Delivery Could Save Plan Participants $450 Million a Year |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Plan Sponsors Embrace New Hardship Withdrawal Rules, PSCA Finds |
National Association of Plan Advisors: MFS Excessive Fee Settlement Gets Judicial OK |
National Association of Plan Advisors: ‘Easy’ Come, Easy Go? |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Is Auto-Enrollment Helping or Hurting Long-Term Retirement Saving? |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Cyber Security Update: Act Now on Multiple Fronts |
Morningstar: The Market Is No Benchmark. Here’s Why. |
Kiplinger: 5 Timeless Financial Lessons Our Children Need Now |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Case of the Week: Correcting a Designated Roth Contribution Error |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Employers Find Workers’ Financial Status Alarming, Study Finds |
Morningstar: Retirement Risk Factors to Watch For |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Putnam Says Feds Biased in ERISA Burden of Proof Case |
National Association of Plan Advisors: The Impact of the 2020 Presidential Election |
National Association of Plan Advisors: The Ultimate Elevator Speech? |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Fidelity: Saving More, Reducing Debt Lead 2020 Financial Resolutions |
The Motley Fool: What to Do If You Can’t Afford to Save for Retirement |
National Association of Plan Advisors: READER POLL: (Still) Early Days for HSAs |
National Association of Plan Advisors: IRS Extends Deadline for Hardship Amendments to Pre-approved Plans |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Only registered users can comment. Login is sponsored by…

Order Your 401k Fiduciary Solutions book today!

Vote in our Poll


The materials at this web site are maintained for the sole purpose of providing general information about fiduciary law, tax accounting and investments and do not under any circumstances constitute legal, accounting or investment advice. You should not act or refrain from acting based on these materials without first obtaining the advice of an appropriate professional. Please carefully read the terms and conditions for using this site. This website contains links to third-party websites. We are not responsible for, and make no representations or endorsements with respect to, third-party websites, or with respect to any information, products or services that may be provided by or through such websites.