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Hosting an industry conference? Ask us about including it in this ticker? Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/6/20 Trending Topics for ERISA Plan Sponsors: Week Ending 3/6/20
March 09
00:03 2020

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:
This Is What You Need To Know About The 9 Components Of A 401k Plan’s Investment Policy Statement,” (, March 3, 2020) An IPS must be thoroughly documented and clearly written and understood by all interested parties. Here’s what to include.

Other Top Stories:
401k MEPs are not a panacea – Carosa,” (BenefitsPRO, March 4, 2020)
Index Investors’ Avoidable Mental Trap #2: The Confidence Curse,” (, March 5, 2020)

Compliance – More Rules Coming:
Because someone needs to keep bureaucrats employed.
Nondiscrimination testing: A high-level overview & reminder,” (BenefitsPRO, February 27, 2020) Just a friendly reminder from you know who.
The Obligation to Save Social Security,” (PLANADVISER, February 28, 2020) With the SECURE Act done, perhaps it’s on to bigger and better things?
Digging Into IRS’ Secure Act RMD Guidance,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 2, 2020) Bottom-line: The jury’s still out.
PBGC and DOL Make Guidance Document Databases Available,” (PLANADVISER, March 4, 2020) There’s probably more than a few folks out there that might find this interesting.
Financial wellness on a collision course with data privacy in California,” (BenefitsPRO, March 4, 2020)

Fiduciary – It’s Happening… Again:
The whole issue of “fiduciary” accelerated when folks recognized sales practices diverged from the best interests of the targets. It seems like we’re about ready to watch the sequel.
Is An Annuity For Your Client? Model Insurance Rule Makes It Hard to Know,” (Financial Advisor, March 5, 2020) This is the beginning of the return of the Great Fiduciary Crusade.

Fees – Speaking of Sequels…:
You’d think they’d learn.
Plan Size, Average Account Balance Are Drivers of Plan Fees,” (PLANADVISER, March 2, 2020) And this should surprise no one.
Evonik Chemical Corp. Faces ERISA Excessive Fee Challenge,” (PLANADVISER, March 4, 2020) Seems like we’re seeing a whole new round of these kinds of suits. All for the same reason as before – not using the lowest cost share class. These are low-hanging fruit opportunities for the legal hounds. It’s surprising plan sponsors are still leaving themselves vulnerable to this charge.

Investments – The Truth About TDFs:
It’s a little hard to sympathize with success, but investors are starting to realize age doesn’t matter as much as they thought.
Target-Date Funds Surged to $2.3 Trillion in 2019,” (401K Specialist, March 2, 2020) “Riding that train, high on…” Asset bundlers who also position themselves as recordkeepers? What can go wrong, Casey Jones?
Managed accounts can save virus-panicked retirement savers from themselves,” (BenefitsPRO, March 3, 2020) Whatever gets you through the night. All right. All right.
As markets drop, think long-term with your retirement savings,” (MarketWatch, March 4, 2020) this goes without saying. Or at least it should. That’s why it needs to be said.
When Target-Risk Makes More Sense Than Target-Date,” (PLANADVISER, March 4, 2020) When doesn’t it?
401k Trading Spiked at End of February,” (PLANADVISER, March 4, 2020) Yeah, this might be a bad sign. Remember all those 401k folks who sold everything in the frenzied slide from 2008/2009? They never put it back in until the market had nearly fully recovered. Nope. Not a good sign at all.
Why Am I Losing So Much Money With My Diversified Portfolio?” (, March 4, 2020) Because diversified portfolios never insulate you from down markets. They’re just sold that way.
Beyond the Daily Market Moves, Opportunity Awaits,” (PLANADVISER, Market 5, 2020) Finally, we return to the days of yore, when old-fashioned accounting smarts divines the best investments.
Many Retirement Savers Have a Big Problem With Target Date Funds: Survey,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 6, 2020) This may sound good, but the reasoning beyond it may be dangerous.

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.
MEPs and PEPs,” (PLANADVISER, January/February 2020)
Supreme Court Strikes Intel Argument in 401k Fiduciary Claims Case,” (401K Specialist, February 27, 2020)
Questions Left Unanswered in Supreme Court’s Intel Ruling,” (PLANADVISER, February 27, 2020)
Why 401k Participants May Wish For ‘Good Old Days’ of 2019,” (401K Specialist, February 27, 2020)
Why a majority of single-plan sponsors would consider joining an Open MEP,” (BenefitsPRO, February 28 2020)
Parties Agree to $12M Settlement in Oracle ERISA Lawsuit,” (PLANADVISER, February 28, 2020)
401k Participants React Poorly in Market Meltdown,” (401K Specialist, February 28, 2020)
How sponsors can help minorities save for retirement,” (Employee Benefit News, February 29, 2020)
Finding good news in DC plan participants’ withdrawals and contributions,” (BenefitsPRO, March 2, 2020)
Finding Real Financial Wellness in the Workplace,” (PLANADVISER, March 3, 2020)
DC Plan Assets Funneling Into Target Date Funds,” (Financial Advisor, March 5, 2020)
Parties In Suit About Estee Lauder 401k Account Data Breach Announce Settlement,” (PLANSPONSOR, March 5, 2020)
Parties in Lawsuit About 401k Account Fraud Agree to Settle,” (PLANADVISER, March 5, 2020)

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.
How can women do a better job preparing for retirement?” (MarketWatch, February 26, 2020)
Debt among older Americans increases dramatically in past two decades,” (CNBC, February 26, 2020)
How a Cash-Balance Retirement Plan Can Help Business Owners,” (TheStreet, February 26, 2020)
The little-discussed downsides of retirement,” (Financial Planning, February 28, 2020)
Seniors Are Stressed About Income in Retirement. What To Do.” (Barron’s, February 29, 2020)
Your 401k is about to get its moment of truth,” (The Washington Post, February 29, 2020)
John Hancock Latest to Face DC Plan ERISA Self-Dealing Lawsuit,” (PLANADVISER, March 2, 2020)
Why You Need To Plan A ‘New’ Retirement Mindset Now,” (, March 2, 2020)
Top strategies for young adults to find financial success,” (CNBC, March 2, 2020)
How To Pay Off Your Debt In Retirement,” (, March 3, 2020)
Vacation Homes: Heaven Or Retirement Hell?” (Financial Advisor, March 3, 2020)
Clients Not Saving Enough? Advisors Can Help Change That,” (Financial Advisor, March 3, 2020)
6 little-known aspects of police and fire pensions,” (BenefitsPRO, March 3, 2020)
Retirement Investors Staying the Course Despite Coronavirus Worries: Survey,” (ThinkAdvisor, March 4, 2020)
How to Max Out Your Roth IRA,” (TheStreet, March 4, 2020)
Here’s how long retirees can afford to live in major U.S. cities on $1 million,” (MarketWatch, March 4, 2020)
5 Biggest Money Regrets for Retirees,” (Money & Markets, March 7, 2020)

Wisdom from Some of Our Favorite Blogs:
Scholarly Financial Planner: Update: The Uncertainty Surrounding the Coronavirus, the Economy, and Your Investment Portfolio |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Bank of America will start to cross-sell |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: Fidelity fends off one FundsNetwork claim |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: That late 5500 will cost you more under the SECURE Act |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: The best person for the job doesn’t always get it |
The Rosenbaum Law Firm P.C. Blog: The Best Way To Sell A PEP/MEP is to not sell a PEP/MEP |
Squared Away Blog: Pre-Retirement Debt is Rising Over Time |
Fred Reish: The DOL’s Fiduciary Rule: Will We Get a New Rule? |
Euclid Specialty: The Supreme Court Interprets the Statute of Limitations for ERISA Cases: What is the Meaning of “Actual Knowledge”? |
Nerd’s Eye View: The SECURE Act: Avoiding The 10-Year Rule For Conduit Trusts |

Hot Tips from Popular Web Resources:
The Motley Fool: Planning on Moving During Retirement? It Could Affect Your Social Security Benefits |
National Association of Plan Advisors: IRS Confirms Review of Changes to VCP Enforcement, Audit Process |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Keeping Things in Perspective |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Declining Markets and Reclining Seats—What Do You Say (and Do)? |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Corona Concerns Cast ‘Shadow’ on 401k Plans |
The Motley Fool: This IRA Move Looks Smarter After the Stock Market Correction |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Disclose ‘Sure’ |
National Association of Plan Advisors: SEC Seeks Input on Misleading Fund Names |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Investor Expectations of U.S. Equity Markets Surprisingly Muted |
The Motley Fool: 3 Signs You’re Likely to Retire Rich |
Morningstar: Risk, Not Volatility, Is the Real Enemy |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Executive Retirement Plans Need Better Oversight, GAO Says |
The Motley Fool: If These 3 Things Apply to You, You Must Postpone Retirement |
Kiplinger: Alternate Strategies for Stretch IRA |
Morningstar: 5 Steps Women Can Take to Improve Their Retirement Readiness |
National Association of Plan Advisors: TDF Assets Topped $2 Trillion in 2019 |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Retirement Readiness Seen Within Reach |
National Association of Plan Advisors: What’s Going on with HSAs? |
National Association of Plan Advisors: The Way to Win an Excessive Fee Suit |
The Motley Fool: 3 Reasons Claiming Social Security Early Will Hurt Your Retirement |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Plan’s ‘Imprudent Preference’ for Proprietary Funds Draws Suit |
National Association of Plan Advisors: READER POLL: Readers Weigh in on Declines in Markets, Airline Seats |
National Association of Plan Advisors: Coronavirus Fears Provoke Spike in 401k Trading Activity |

Miss anything? Feel free to add a comment below.

About Author

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA


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