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Daily Article Digest - Updated Throughout the Day

This digest contains a wide variety of the freshest source material dealing with current trends, opinion, news, legislative action, investments, marketing, sales, consulting, and legal issues regarding 401k, 403(b) and other retirement plans. Each listing contains a headline (hyperlinked to the source document), description, source of the item, and the month and year posted to this digest.

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Legislation to Help Small Business Retirement Plans Introduced

Abstract: Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate to make it easier for small businesses to offer retirement plans, or at least easier to file Form 5500.

Source: Napa-net.org, March 2017

IRS Responds to Increase in User Fee Overpayments for VCP Submissions

Abstract: The IRS has noticed an increase in plan sponsors paying user fees that are higher than the amount required for their submissions under the Voluntary Correction Program (VCP). In response, the IRS website has been changed to remind plan sponsors that, beginning in 2016, VCP user fees are no longer included in the revenue procedure for the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System.

Source: Thomsonreuters.com, March 2017

Why the Fiduciary Standard Matter to Clients

Abstract: Advisors speak out on why they formed their RIA, the differences between brokers and advisers and avoiding as opposed to accepting and disclosing conflicts, and what this means for their clients.

Source: Thefiduciaryinstitute.org, March 2017

Deadline to Submit Qualification Amendments With the Puerto Rico Treasury Fast Approaching

Abstract: Plan sponsors or participating employers using the calendar year as the tax year that have adopted "qualification amendments" during 2016, must submit such amendments with the Puerto Rico Treasury on or before April 15, 2017, or, by July 15, 2017, if an extension request was timely filed.

Source: Littler.com, March 2017

Three Things to Know About DC Plan Participants Under

Abstract: Here are three critical findings from recent J.P. Morgan research on the attitudes toward saving and investing among the youngest members of the U.S. labor force.

Source: Jpmorgan.com, March 2017

401k Plan Sponsors Want Financial Advisers to Better Know Their Businesses

Abstract: Employers sponsoring 401k plans want advisers to challenge their assumptions and commit to knowing their specific company and their industry, a panel of plan sponsors said Monday at the National Association of Plan Advisors annual conference.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Retirement Assets Total $25.3 Trillion in Fourth Quarter 2016

Abstract: Total US retirement assets were $25.3 trillion as of December 31, 2016, up 1.4 percent from the end of September and up 6.1 percent for the year. Retirement assets accounted for 34 percent of all household financial assets in the United States at the end of 2016.

Source: Iciglobal.org, March 2017

IRS Issues Guidance to Correct Defective 403(b) Plans

Abstract: The IRS recently issued guidance permitting employers to retroactively self-correct 403(b) plan document failures through March 31, 2020. In short, employers sponsoring 403(b) plans have until March 31, 2020 to "clean-up" any plan document failures that occurred during the RAP, retroactive to January 1, 2010.

Source: Icemiller.com, March 2017

Investment Management Merger and Acquisition

Abstract: This article explores investment manager M&A and provide some topics that plan sponsors should consider if or when their investments have been affected by either a fund or firm-level merger.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, March 2017

Acosta Won't Commit to Supporting Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: Labor secretary nominee Alexander Acosta wouldn't commit to supporting the DOL's fiduciary rule when under fire from Sen. Elizabeth Warren during his confirmation hearing March 22.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Are You Getting the Right Return on Your Retirement Plan Investment?

Abstract: According to data from Willis Towers Watson, the average employer-provided value in a DC plan in Canada is 6.3%, assuming employees take advantage of the full company match available. It's a significant number for most organizations, so how can an employer measure if the retirement plan is providing the right return on the company's investment?

Source: Benefitscanada.com, March 2017

The Paradox of Participant Loans in Default

Abstract: Keeping two sets of books often means that someone is hiding something from the taxing authorities. However, keeping two sets of books is sometimes a legitimate practice, required precisely to comply with IRS rules that regulate different aspects of each set of books. For example, the difference between deemed distributions of loans in default and the actual loan offset requires a double set of books.

Source: Belfint.com, March 2017

CITs: In the Sweet Spot for Improving DC Plans

Abstract: Once the initial setup, with the trust company of the CIT is done, they trade and act very similarly to mutual funds, and in fact, they have all the operational efficiencies of mutual funds, with many of the pricing advantages of separate accounts.

Source: Abglobal.com, March 2017

2017 Best in Class 401k Plans

Abstract: Two years ago, PLANSPONSOR introduced its "Best in Class 401k Plan" designation, given to 401k retirement plan sponsors that meet a standard of excellence as defined by the PLANSPONSOR research and editorial teams. The 34 recognized this year were selected from the nearly 3,400 401k plans that responded to the 2016 PLANSPONSOR Defined Contribution Survey.

Source: Plansponsor.com, March 2017

Texas Judge Shoots Down Latest Effort to Halt DOL Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: Opponents of the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule were dealt another blow Monday, when Chief Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn of the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas denied the financial trade association plaintiffs' motion for an injunction to stop the regulation.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Retirement Market Needs 401k Generalist Advisers, Not Just Specialists

Abstract: Generalist 401k advisers, or those who don't specialize in retirement plan business, are essential to a well-functioning retirement plan market, which shouldn't be served only by so-called specialists, say industry executives at the National Association of Plan Advisors' annual conference.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Bank of America Prevails in 401k Asset Transfer Case

Abstract: Bank of America prevailed against employees who challenged a $3 billion transfer from the company's 401k plan to its cash balance defined benefit plan.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), March 2017

How Will You Offer Value Under the Fiduciary Rule?

Abstract: In the brave new world of fee transparency that has emerged, advisors are forced to be specific about the value they offer, even as technology rears its threatening head in the form of robo-advisors. How can advisors add value and thereby justify their fees?

Source: Benefitspro.com, March 2017

Tax Reform Proposals Causing Anxiety for Retirement Industry

Abstract: The fiduciary rule and President Donald Trump's tax reform efforts were the big topics addressed Sunday during the opening of the NAPA 401k Summit. But the big takeaway for employers is that tax reform may inhibit employees' ability to save for retirement.

Source: Benefitnews.com, March 2017

Should 401k Plans Offer Only Index Funds?

Abstract: A number of retirement plan experts believe that 401k plan participants should only be allowed to invest in index funds. They say the additional cost that participants pay for actively managed mutual funds is not justified by better performance. Some 401k plan sponsors have agreed, offering only index funds in their fund line-ups. Is that a good idea?

Source: Lawtonrpc.com, March 2017

The 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey

Abstract: The 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey finds that the share of American workers who are very confident in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement remains low, and some workers report that preparing for retirement is emotionally or mentally stressful. However, among retirees, confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement continues to be comparably high.

Source: Ebri.org, March 2017

Why You Shouldn't Stick With Your 401k Plan's Default Settings

Abstract: The default 401k savings rate and investment might not be ideal for every employee, and it probably won't allow you to claim the entire 401k match or all the tax breaks you are eligible for. Here's why you should reconsider whether to accept your 401k plan's default settings.

Source: Usnews.com, March 2017

Passive Investment Train Overtakes Active in Corporate DC Plans

Abstract: The never-ending fight for lower fees and the fear of fee-related lawsuits have pushed passive investments ahead of active management among large defined contribution plans, the first time since Pensions & Investments began tracking data from the 100 biggest corporate plans.

Source: Pionline.com, March 2017

401k Benchmark Report

Abstract: This 32-page report examines approximately 500,000 active 401k plans. This data comes from the 2015 plan year, and represents the most recent data available at the time of writing. These plans cover about 53 million eligible workers and account for about $4.1 trillion in plan assets. The goal of this research is to provide an objective, data-oriented view of different industries, how their collective 401k plans are performing, and how that compares to other industry groupings.

Source: Judydiamond.com, March 2017

Plan Sponsors Want Help With DOL Fiduciary Duties

Abstract: Plan sponsors worry about participants suing over inferior investment choices or high fees. At the same time, they're anxious about the Labor Department or Internal Revenue Service finding fault with their plan design or processes. They want advisers who are experts on the intricacies of the laws governing retirement plans, as well as a partner to share the stressful liability.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Metamorphosis of DCIO Wholesalers

Abstract: Financial services wholesalers, especially with defined contribution investment-only firms, are facing some harsh realities, as are retail mutual fund wholesalers. Are we finally at a point where selling investments in defined-contribution plans will change dramatically, and what does that portend for DC advisers and the industry overall?

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Despite Uncertainty, DOL Fiduciary Rule Upends 401k Biz

Abstract: Even though its fate is unclear, the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule is upending the retirement plan adviser market, which spans the adviser spectrum from "dabblers" to defined contribution "specialists." Observers say such changes began taking root prior to the promulgation of the rule last year but are being accelerated by the DOL regulation.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

The Unfortunate Truch About Your SPD

Abstract: When it comes to benefits, Summary Plan Descriptions should be one of the most valuable tools participants have. All too often, however, SPDs are difficult to understand and hard to use. Treating your SPD as the communication tools they were originally intended to be, rather than a mechanism to protect your plan in the event of a lawsuit, can increase the value of your SPD and your benefits to you and your plan participants.

Source: Findleydavies.com, March 2017

Callan DC Index up 8% in 2016

Abstract: The Callan DC Index ended 2016 with a return of 7.99%, its best year since 2013. The Index reflects the performance, asset allocation, and cash flows of more than 90 large defined contribution plans representing approximately $150 billion in assets.

Source: Callan.com, March 2017

Smallest Companies Have Highest-Performing 401k Plans, Study Finds

Abstract: ALM Intelligence has published the results of the second annual 401k Plan Benchmark Report from its benefits unit, Judy Diamond Associates. This in-depth analysis from Judy Diamond Associates examined active 401k plans.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2017

State Retirement Savings Initiatives Do More Than Enhance Retirement Security

Abstract: This 7-page analysis shows a positive correlation between increased retirement savings, sufficient to remove a percentage of currently vulnerable households from the poverty rolls by the time they retire, and a reduction in Medicaid spending.

Source: Segalco.com, March 2017*

Helping Retirement Plan Participants Prepare for the Future

Abstract: Selecting an education and/or advice provider is a fiduciary decision and should be made with all the care that any other fiduciary decision is made. By isolating the education process from the investment process, plan participants are receiving sound retirement education stripped of any sales motivation. It's up to the plan fiduciary to monitor the education program to ensure that it's not sales driven. Turning to an independent provider substantially reduces this risk.

Source: Plantemoran.com, March 2017

2017 PLANADVISER Micro Plan Survey

Abstract: Micro-sized DC plans are those with less than $5 million in assets. Taken as a whole, the micro-plan market in many ways is large. This report summarizes provider service ratings in the micro-plan market.

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2017

Avoid Overpaying User Fees for Your VCP Submission

Abstract: The Employee Plans Voluntary Compliance function has noticed an increase in submissions with incorrect user fees. Many of these submissions include user fees higher than what is required. This announcement reviews some ways to avoid the overpayment of user fees.

Source: Irs.gov, March 2017

Small-Market Retirement Plan Advisers Face Big-Time Challenges

Abstract: There are various aspects of a retirement plan that require ongoing review (i.e., plan design, participant communication and education efforts, recordkeeping tools and services), but investments and fees continue to make headlines. While many of the cases featured in the news involve large plans, smaller retirement plans with less purchasing power face similar challenges.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Video: The Small 401k Plan Marketplace

Abstract: Scott Buffington, Founder of 401kplans.com and Tim Irvin, Consultant at Cammack Retirement sit down with Jeff Snyder to discuss the small 401kplan marketplace.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, March 2017

Managing Critical 403(b) Issues Through Proper Allocation of 3(16) and 3(21) Fiduciary Responsibility

Abstract: Service providers are demonstrating their ability to customize their fiduciary services to their customers needs and -- just as important -- to their own capacity to provide selected services where they feel they can add value. The complex nature of handling 403(b) plans make these plans uniquely suited to customized fiduciary services.

Source: Businessofbenefits.com, March 2017

A Tax on Retirement Accounts?

Abstract: A new tax reform proposal has surfaced that would impose a 15% tax on retirement accounts. More specifically, the proposal includes a new 15% tax on interest paid to tax-exempt institutions and retirement plans.

Source: Asppa.org, March 2017

TPA Alpha: A New Approach to Evaluating TPAs

Abstract: What if TPAs were evaluated for value and performance in a similar manner as mutual funds? If so, determining a TPA's "Alpha" potential could be a great place to start. The firm that has the highest probability of delivering positive Alpha would be the most obvious and prudent choice. This article reviews how this evaluation could be conducted.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2017

Eighth Circuit Sends Fund-Mapping Case Back to Trial Court to Redetermine Damages

Abstract: The Eighth Circuit has weighed in again on the fund-mapping portion of this long-running case. Its latest decision affirms the trial court's determination that a fiduciary breach occurred, but reopens the question of damages because the trial court failed to consider any method for measuring the plans' losses other than the method suggested by the Eighth Circuit's previous decision.

Source: Thomsonreuters.com, March 2017

IRS Releases Form 5500-EZ and Form 8955-SSA for 2016 Plan Year

Abstract: The IRS has released the 2016 Form 5500-EZ (Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan) and 2016 Form 8955-SSA (Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits), along with their separate Instructions.

Source: Thomsonreuters.com, March 2017

Will the DOL Fiduciary Rule Kill 401k Plan Referrals?

Abstract: Many less-experienced plan advisers are expected to refer current or potential 401k clients to more experienced plan advisers, but there's a catch. The referral may be considered a fiduciary act and questions of whether compensation for those referrals is reasonable will also arise, regardless of the DOL rule, which will make a fiduciary of anyone providing investment advice for a fee in retirement accounts.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Merrill Lynch Outlines Plans for Its 401k Fiduciary Platform

Abstract: Merrill Lynch outlined plans to transition its defined-contribution-plan business over to a fiduciary model, coming several months after the firm announced similar plans for its retail retirement business and as the implementation deadline for the DOL's fiduciary rule approaches.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

BofA, JPMorgan, and the Fiduciary Rule: Will They or Won't They

Abstract: WSJ's Michael Wursthorn has been hot on the trail, looking into whether banks will proceed with transitions to fee-based retirement accounts if the fiduciary rule isn't implemented.

Source: Barrons.com, March 2017

Citing "Cascade of Consequences," Fiduciary Rule Foes File for Injunction

Abstract: A group of plaintiffs in the fiduciary regulation litigation have petitioned the court to maintain the status quo pending their appeal. And, citing "their urgent need for relief," the plaintiffs have asked the court to issue a ruling on the motion by March 20, 2017.

Source: Asppa.org, March 2017

Collective Investment Trusts - A Perfect Storm

Abstract: Cost advantages and growing regulatory compliance requirements are making Collective Investment Trusts an important investment vehicle in the DC market. The characteristics that differentiated CITs from mutual funds are becoming competitive advantages, and their place in the retirement market is expanding to include even small players. This 28-page white paper can help you understand the increased opportunities CITs present to asset managers seeking a larger share of retirement assets.

Source: ALPS, March 2017

More Than 40% of Americans Are Wrong About Their Retirement Preparedness

Abstract: A new study says that more than half of working-age Americans are at risk of seeing their standard of living drop in retirement. No shocker there. Many surveys and studies show that many, if not most, workers are well behind when it comes to preparing for retirement. What is surprising, though, is the number of people the researchers identified who believe they're on track to a secure retirement, but aren't.

Source: Time.com, March 2017

Four Questions to Guide Your Fee Evaluation Process

Abstract: As a plan fiduciary, you have a responsibility to ensure your service providers' compensation is reasonable relative to the services provided. A fiduciary process for assessing fees can help meet your obligation to provide a plan that operates in the best interest of your employees. Your plan provider or consultant can help you navigate this process by helping you answer four key questions.

Source: Tiaa.org, March 2017

Target-Date Fund Unethical Practices

Abstract: Target date funds are a big deal, and with big deals comes big responsibility. Despite its growing popularity and importance, there is a lot of confusion surrounding target-date funds. Some of this confusion leads to bad decisions that can harm beneficiaries and should expose fiduciaries to legal action.

Source: Targetdatesolutions.com, March 2017

New Rule, Old Rule - What Should Advisers Do Now?

Abstract: Now that it seems clear that the applicability date of the new DOL fiduciary rule will be delayed, many advisers (including broker-dealers and RIA firms) may heave a sigh of relief. However, while some feeling of relief is justified, that does not mean that their services are not governed, in many cases, by the "old" fiduciary regulation.

Source: Natlawreview.com, March 2017

DC Advisors Don't Feel Support in Wake of DOL Fiduciary Ruling

Abstract: The DOL fiduciary ruling, despite not being fully enacted, as well as the recent calls for repeal and uncertainty regarding timing, has already altered the financial services industry substantially. Heightened fee scrutiny throughout the retirement industry is causing many DC plan providers to be on the defensive, focusing on ways to avoid the next potential pitfall. And although providers may be trying, half of DC advisors report they are not getting enough support from providers with regard to the new rules and regulations.

Source: Marketstrategies.com, March 2017

DOL Alleges Company Failed to Remit Employees 401k Withholdings

Abstract: According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that defendants established a 401k plan and that employees withheld $12,611.85 as plan contributions and $17,966.56 in loan repayments and defendants breached their duty by failing to these remit sums to the plan.

Source: Flarecord.com, March 2017

Eighth Circuit Remands Tussey v. Abb, Inc. Back to District Court

Abstract: Because the district court apparently mistook direction for a definitive ruling on how to measure plan losses, and as a result entered judgment in favor of the ABB fiduciaries despite finding they did breach their duties, on this appeal, the Court vacated the judgment on that claim and remanded the case back to the district court for further consideration regarding whether the participants can prove losses to the plans.

Source: Erisalawyerblog.com, March 2017

A New IRA Plan Could Simplify Offerings for Brokers, Employers

Abstract: If one leading academic has his way, there would be a new acronym to learn in the crowded concoction of employee benefits law and regulation. And his plan could mean a simpler set of guidelines and documentation for employer retirement plans.

Source: Employeebenefitadviser.com, March 2017

Put It in Writing! Why Your 401k Plan Should Have Written Policies

Abstract: Plan fiduciaries worry not only about being a target of class action lawsuits, but also about the possibility of being selected for an IRS or Department of Labor audit. More and more fiduciaries are coming to realize that memorializing a set of carefully-thought out plan policies and following them can be their best defense in these situations.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, March 2017

Retirement Plan Examinations and Enforcement Programs on the Rise: Guidance for Plan Sponsors

Abstract: It's no surprise that DOL and IRS investigations and audits are on the rise. In 2016, the DOL alone closed 2,002 civil and 333 criminal investigations. This article reviews some steps a plan sponsor can take to avoid or mitigate compliance issues before an audit is initiated.

Source: Bsllp.com, March 2017

Safeway Workers Advance Two Challenges to JPMorgan Funds

Abstract: Grocery giant Safeway can't escape two proposed class actions challenging the fees and investments in its 401k plan, including its decision to offer JPMorgan target-date funds.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), March 2017

IRS Views on Self-Certification of Financial Hardship

Abstract: Many plan sponsors rely upon a self-certification process to document and process 401k distributions made on account of financial hardship. The IRS has recently issued examination guidelines for its field agents for their use in determining whether a self-certification process has an adequate documentation procedure.

Source: Benefitsbryancave.com, March 2017

Retirement Plan Best Practices: Plan Design

Abstract: This 13-page paper helps plan sponsors navigate plan design decisions. It examines the factors that you should consider as a fiduciary when making decisions about plan design, looks at how other plans handle different options, and identifies some best practices.

Source: Arnerichmassena.com, March 2017

Shift from DB to DC Resulted in Decline in Income Replacement

Abstract: Retirement income as a percentage of wealth has declined as the employer-sponsored retirement plan landscape has been moved to mostly DC plans, a study finds.

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2017

Five Things Every New CFO Should Know About the 401k Plan

Abstract: As the new CFO you may have a dozen top priorities, and may question whether evaluating the retirement plan should be anywhere near the top of your to-do list. But there are five good reasons to spend some time looking into the 401k plan you just inherited.

Source: Forusall.com, March 2017

DOL Issues Temporary Enforcement Relief for Fiduciary Rule Non-Compliance

Abstract: This article discusses the two scenarios in which the DOL will not take enforcement action for non-compliance with the fiduciary rule during this period of uncertainty. it also provides suggestions on how advisers and financial institutions should proceed while we wait to see what happens with the fiduciary rule.

Source: Drinkerbiddle.com, March 2017

How Has the Shift to 401k Plans Affected Retirement Income?

Abstract: This 8-page analysis addresses how the transition from DB to DC plans affected retirement wealth and income. The results show: Total retirement wealth from employer plans was roughly flat, and this wealth is now more skewed toward those with more education; the income produced by each dollar of retirement wealth has declined, despite a tendency for workers to retire later; and, the amount of income relative to a worker's earnings has declined.

Source: Bc.edu, March 2017

Labor Secretary's Nomination Hearing Postponed Again

Abstract: The Senate Health, Education Labor & Pensions Committee has delayed Labor Secretary nominee R. Alexander Acosta's confirmation hearing another week.

Source: Asppa.org, March 2017

How the DOL's Delay Will Help the 401k Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: This article discusses potential consequences to the DOL's fiduciary rule, including increased cost of advice, limited access to advice, limited access to retirement services for small businesses and decreased availability for IRA rollovers to plan participants. The delay allows policymakers time to further examine these potential consequences.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, March 2017

The Misperception of Fiduciary Risk and Active Management in DC Plans: A Legal Perspective

Abstract: Plan sponsors face increasingly complex fiduciary requirements, as well as pressure to provide an optimal plan experience for participants at a reasonable cost. Making investment selection decisions under these conditions can prove challenging. This white paper aims to help fiduciaries navigate the waters of plan investment selection and monitoring processes.

Source: Troweprice.com, March 2017

As DOL Fiduciary Rule Sits on Ice, Is It Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down for Advisors?

Abstract: Whether the Department of Labor fiduciary rule continues to be delayed, eventually takes effect, or ends up being repealed, the proverbial beans have been spilled, as many advisors and their respective firms have already taken the actions needed to comply, thus proving some areas of debate true and others false.

Source: Marketstrategies.com, March 2017

Ranks of Fee-Based Advisors Expected to Swell

Abstract: Despite the uncertain fate of the Department of Labor fiduciary rule, we already see advisors changing their business practices. According to Cogent's "The Future of the Financial Advisor" report, advisors earning at least three-quarters of their total compensation from asset-based fees could comprise half (49%) of all financial advisors by the end of 2017, up from 38% presently.

Source: Marketstrategies.com, March 2017

Breaking Down CITs

Abstract: CITs are often less expensive to create and maintain. They may also be more flexible than their mutual fund counterparts given that they are subject to a different regulatory framework. While this may be a benefit to their fee structure, it can also be challenging because CITs are not broadly understood and often suffer misconceptions when compared to mutual funds.

Source: Manning-Napier.com, March 2017

Fiduciary Fee Reasonableness

Abstract: Fee reasonableness is a fundamental and widely discussed fiduciary topic. Despite the importance of the topic, the DOL hasn't given much insight or guidance as to what is considered a reasonable fee. As a result, much of the interpretation of what is and is not reasonable has come from the courts. As a fiduciary, it is important to turn to litigation for guidance, acknowledge how excessive fee allegations have evolved, and most importantly, to appropriately manage this risk in the future.

Source: Manning-Napier.com, March 2017

12b-1 Fees: It Is Time to Bid Them Farewell

Abstract: Given the 12b-1 fee's implicit conflicts -- and their declining relevance -- arguably it's time to create a more appropriate pricing structure for the realities of today's investment marketplace.

Source: Kitces.com, March 2017

DOL Proposes to Delay Fiduciary Advice Rule, Requests Comments on Delay and on Costs, Benefits of the Rule

Abstract: The DOL published a proposed extension of the effective date of what is commonly referred to as the fiduciary rule. The Rule provides that persons who provide investment advice or recommendations for fees or other compensation with respect to retirement plan assets will be fiduciaries under ERISA.

Source: Kattenlaw.com, March 2017

DOL Issues FAB With Enforcement Relief From DOL Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: The DOL issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2017-01 addressing notice and compliance issues under the DOL Fiduciary Rule given the uncertainty surrounding the proposed delay of the rule's Applicability Date. The FAB will permit financial institutions to avoid sending out notices and client communications prior to April 10, 2017.

Source: Groom.com, March 2017

401k Fees -- Frequently Asked Questions by Plan Fiduciaries

Abstract: If you're a 401k fiduciary, you don't want to be in the dark about your plan fees. The potential consequences for paying excessive 401k fees are too great. This FAQ will answer some of the most common 401k fee questions.

Source: Employeefiduciary.com, March 2017

ERISA's Fiduciary Rule at the Crossroads - DOL Puts the Brakes on Enforcement

Abstract: The DOL issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2017-01. The FAB relates to the DOL's proposal, which was published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2017, to delay for 60 days the applicability date of the DOL's new fiduciary "investment advice" rule under ERISA, currently set to begin becoming applicable on April 10, 2017.

Source: Dechert.com, March 2017

The DOL Conflict of Interest Rule Is Already Delivering Benefits: Delay Puts Those Benefits at Risk

Abstract: These benefits come in the form of promised reductions in the toxic conflicts that encourage harmful advice and reduced costs for both investment products and investment advice. The rule, which is due to be implemented in April, is achieving these beneficial results without sacrificing retirement savers' access to advice or choice in how to pay for that advice.

Source: Consumerfed.org, March 2017

An Update on State-Run Auto-IRA Plans

Abstract: In this video, Lisa Massena, CFA, Executive Director of OregonSaves, discusses State-Run Auto-IRA program initiatives.

Source: Cammackretirement.com, March 2017

Why Your Small Business Should Consider Implementing a Retirement Plan Program

Abstract: Regardless of their generation, 60 percent of independent contractors and small business owners report not saving enough for their retirement. The good news is that the tax code provides several benefits to encourage saving for retirement for small business owners and their employees. This article outlines a few reasons why establishing a retirement benefit plan is beneficial to you as a business owner.

Source: Bsllp.com, March 2017

IRS Can't Do It Anymore, So Law Firms Will

Abstract: At least three law firms are stepping in to fill the void the IRS left when it ended the program that assures employers that their retirement plans are tax-qualified.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Participants Count on Yesterday's Investment Returns Tomorrow

Abstract: When it comes to retirement savings, there's a new gap to worry about: the difference between low industry return forecasts and defined contribution plan participant expectations.

Source: Blackrock.com, March 2017

Employer Contribution Options

Abstract: When designing, or redesigning a 401k plan, a business owner has a variety of employer contribution options. These options range from no contribution at all to funding the maximum contribution for all employees. This article outlines the various options.

Source: Benefit-Resources.com, March 2017

Addressing Retirement Plan Cybersecurity

Abstract: It's not really new that cybersecurity is a concern for employers. But it shouldn't be ignored, especially in the context of retirement plans, since plan participants' personal and financial information is maintained and shared by multiple parties.

Source: Asppa.org, March 2017

DOL Issues Bulletin to Ease Confusion Over Near-Term Fiduciary Rule Compliance

Abstract: Basically, the DOL said that regardless of what decision they make on the fiduciary rule -- whether to delay or not to delay -- they won't enforce violations and won't bring enforcement against firms for violations in the near term.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2017-01

Abstract: This 3-page document announces a temporary enforcement policy related to the Department of Labor's recent proposal to extend for sixty days the applicability date of the final rule defining who is a "fiduciary" under the ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.

Source: Dol.gov, March 2017

Dispelling an Urban Legend: Participant Loans Do Not Result in Double Taxation

Abstract: Service providers and advisors who claim that participant loan repayments result in double taxation do not see the full picture, so they continue to spread an erroneous urban legend.

Source: Belfint.com, March 2017

Preparing Participants for the Next Market Downturn

Abstract: The best time to communicate to participants about how investment returns and market cycles work and the ongoing importance of proper diversification is not when a year like 2008 happens, but when the market is doing well (i.e., right now!).

Source: Cammackretirement.com, March 2017

Investment Policy Statements to Keep the DC Plan on Track

Abstract: On the one hand, an investment committee that tries to manage its DC plan without an IPS is apt to lose its way. On the other hand, if an IPS is unclear or confusing, it can also lead to bad outcomes.

Source: Callan.com, March 2017

What's the Difference Between a Recordkeeper and a Third Party Administrator (TPA)?

Abstract: There are many parties involved with the management of a company's retirement plan. Although we hear certain terms being used, many times we do not understand exactly who does what. A common question is "what is the difference between the recordkeeper and the third party administrator"?

Source: Brightscope.com, March 2017

The Three "C's" to Consider When Looking for a 401k Advisor

Abstract: Choosing an advisor can be a daunting task, but it's important to take your time and make an educated decision. Changing advisors is not a simple move that can be accomplished in a week. It's best to ask the right questions upfront and carefully navigate through the process of selecting an experienced and appropriate advisor.

Source: Brightscope.com, March 2017

Insperity Must Face Lawsuit Over 401k Fees, Funds

Abstract: A lawsuit accusing human resources provider Insperity Inc. of loading its 401k plan with high-fee investment funds and paying itself excessive recordkeeping fees is moving forward.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Allergan Stock Drop Leads to Second ERISA Lawsuit

Abstract: Allergan now faces another lawsuit by employees who claim an ongoing investigation into generic drug pricing caused them to lose retirement savings held in the drugmaker's stock.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), March 2017

TIAA Dodges Retirement Fee Lawsuit by University Workers

Abstract: Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America dodged a lawsuit accusing it of charging excessive fees to participants in retirement plans sponsored by the University of Chicago and Nova Southeastern University.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), March 2017

DOL Rule or Not, Financial Industry is Changing

Abstract: Whether the DOL rule is delayed, which is likely for 60 days, or even scrapped, it has made an indelible mark on the financial services industry which will not and probably cannot be undone. A fee based investment firm in Colorado outlines four of these changes.

Source: 401ktv.com, March 2017

Brokerage Industry Rallies Employees to Push for DOL Rule Delay

Abstract: With just 14 days to comment on the Department of Labor's proposal to delay implementation of its fiduciary rule by 60 days, brokerage firms are rallying employees to communicate their views in favor of a delay.

Source: Advisorhub.com, March 2017

DeGrassi to NTSA 403(b) Masters: Tax Reform May Trump Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: The 2017 NTSA 403(b) Masters Summit convened just outside Phoenix, AZ in late January, and NTSA Executive Director Chris DeGrassi told the audience made up of the 403(b) plan industry's top talent that this year's game-changer won't be the DOL's fiduciary rule, it's going to be tax reform.

Source: Ntsa-net.org, March 2017

Fidelity, Empower and T. Rowe Take Three Different Approaches to the DOL Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: The Department of Labor's fiduciary rule is leading recordkeepers of 401k plans to adopt wildly divergent compliance strategies. Take Fidelity Investments, Empower Retirement and T. Rowe Price, three of the largest defined contribution plan providers, for example.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Senate Moves to Kill DOL's State, City Auto-IRA Rules

Abstract: The Senate has moved to kill Obama-era retirement rules governing so-called auto-IRAs for states and cities, following similar action taken up in the House of Representatives in recent weeks.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Comments of the DOLs Proposed Delay of Applicability Dates of the Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: The U.S. Department of Labor announced a proposed extension of the applicability dates of the fiduciary rule and related exemptions, including the Best Interest Contract Exemption, from April 10 to June 9, 2017. The DOL is accepting public comments on the proposed extension for 15 days following its publication. The comments received so far are published here.

Source: Dol.gov, March 2017

IRS Increases Flexibility for Substantiation of Hardship Distributions

Abstract: After an extended period of uncertainty about what constitutes acceptable substantiation of a hardship withdrawal request, new guidelines for IRS examiners provide clarity. While traditional means of gathering source documents continue to be acceptable, the new guidelines set forth requirements that allow plans to use a summary of those documents instead.

Source: Conduent.com, March 2017

When It Comes to Target-Date Funds, You Better Shop Around

Abstract: Many plan sponsors are shifting away from recordkeepers' target-date funds to nonproprietary versions. But others are still using yesterday's model. The article suggests it's time to take a look around.

Source: Abglobal.com, March 2017

Lower Investment Fees Help Push 401k Fees Down Last Year

Abstract: Data just published by the 401k Averages Book shows 401k fees declined in all sixteen market segments they track. In addition to total plan costs declining, they saw an across the board reduction in 401k investment fees.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2017

Majority of Americans Are Behind on Their Retirement Savings

Abstract: Investopedia released a study revealing key insights into affluent Americans' preparedness for retirement. The survey of 700 employed investors shows that saving for retirement is a significant challenge, with 52 percent of respondents feeling behind on their target savings and many expressing concerns that they will be unable to retire on time.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2017

What Is a Solo 401k?

Abstract: Not every company offers a 401k, but many workers have the option to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. But what if you're self-employed? Just because you work for yourself doesn't mean you can't open a 401k.

Source: Fool.com, March 2017

Avoid Estate Plan Blunders: Pitfalls in Titling Assets and Beneficiary Designations

Abstract: Certain assets, such as retirement accounts, have specific rules relating to holding, taxes and bequeathing ownership after your passing. The need is to match up titling and designations with your objectives and desires. Outright beneficiary mistakes and sub-optimal choices can be costly in time and expenses to you or your estate. Even worse, oversights and mistakes could lead to outcomes inconsistent with your wishes and affect family dynamics for years to come.

Source: Calamos.com, March 2017

What If the DOL Wrote the Rules of Golf?

Abstract: The U.S. and British golf associations recently announced that significant changes are being proposed to make the rules of golf easier to understand, and the game less time-consuming and more fun to play. Imagine what would happen if the DOL was put in charge of writing the Rules of Golf.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2017

Using the New IRS Remedial Amendment Period Rules

Abstract: This 28-page paper looks at what the Tax Code and Treasury Regulations say about when a retirement plan that is intended to be qualified may be retroactively modified. If one is interested only in whether a plan document meets the qualification requirements, and not what plan terms may be enforced by participants or other parties, this retroactivity question is the whole ballgame.

Source: Utzlattan.com, March 2017

Is Retirement Only for the Wealthy?

Abstract: Has retirement become a luxury good in 21st century America, available only to the top 10 or 20 percent? The answer is no. Many of us exercise a lot of control over our lifestyle and can make changes that will help us to be able to retire.

Source: Usnews.com, March 2017

Five Guiding Fiduciary Principles

Abstract: Defined contribution plans find themselves in an increasingly complex and litigation-prone world. Therefore, it is important to debunk common investment misperceptions, and instead underline what the real focal points for fiduciaries should be.

Source: Troweprice.com, March 2017

Are State-Mandated Retirement Plans a Good Deal for Low-Income Savers?

Abstract: "Secure choice" or "auto IRA" retirement plans, sponsored by individual U.S. states, can be a good choice for select retirement savers, but they come with a few big caveats.

Source: Thestreet.com, March 2017

Americans' Position on Retirement Planning: The Shruggie

Abstract: After reviewing six new surveys and studies from financial services firms and the U.S. government, the author decided that Americans' position on retirement planning could be summed up in, well not a word exactly, but an emoji: The Shruggie.

Source: Forbes.com, March 2017

Millennial Wealth Accumulation - A Plan Sponsor's Guide

Abstract: For Millennials, if they do retire, it may be 40+ years away. It can be hard to focus on something so far in the future, no matter how important it is. Instead of focusing on retirement as an event to save for, Millennials should focus on accumulating wealth for their future. As a plan sponsor, you can help by providing strategic participant education and proper plan design.

Source: Ekonbenefits.com, March 2017

The Emergence and Future of Plan Health Tools

Abstract: These comprehensive resources communicate crucial plan health data, such as plan participation rate, average employee salary deferral rate, number of employees eligible but not participating, and number of participants with appropriately allocated portfolios. The tools often provide more holistic summaries of information and incorporate data visualizations, giving sponsors a more intuitive way to assess plan health than traditional reporting tools.

Source: Corporateinsight.com, March 2017

A Lot of Good Come Has From the Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: Despite the news that advisers may not be legally required to provide advice that benefits their clients more than themselves (in the form of commissions and kickbacks), a lot of good come from the fiduciary rule already. There are at least four major benefits.

Source: Castlerockinvesting.com, March 2017

Last Day of Remedial Amendment Period for 403(b) Plans is March 31, 2020

Abstract: In recently issued Revenue Procedure 2017-18, the IRS fixed March 31, 2020 as the last day for the current remedial amendment period for 403(b) plans, which began January 1, 2010 for plans existing on or before December 31, 2009. Plan sponsors who have timely adopted 403(b) retirement plan documents, now, will have until March 31, 2020 to retroactively correct any plan document defects, either by adopting a pre-approved plan document or amending their existing plan. This is welcome news for 403(b) plan sponsors and advisors to those plans who have waited nearly four years for the IRS to announce an end date to the current remedial amendment period.

Source: Benefitslawadvisor.com, March 2017

401k Safe-Harbor Hardship Distributions: Best Practices & Checklist

Abstract: Should your 401k plan ever come under audit by the IRS, your documentation will be critical to a swift resolution of the examination. This article covers hardship distribution best practices which can also serve as a helpful checklist.

Source: Bsllp.com, March 2017

Are You Keeping the Right Documentation for 401k Hardship Distributions?

Abstract: 401k Hardship Distribution regulations provide that certain safe harbor distributions will be deemed to meet the "immediate and heavy financial need" requirement (for example, deductible medical expenses); however, plans are required to substantiate that the distribution meets the requirements for the specific type of safe harbor distribution.

Source: Bradley.com, March 2017

Year-End 401k Matching - A Good Thing?

Abstract: A few years ago, AOL announced that they were moving to a year-end once per year match on their 401k plan. AOL subsequently rescinded this change, but many other major companies, including IBM, have gone this route in recent years. What are the implications of a year-end annual 401k match for employees and employers?

Source: Thechicagofinancialplanner.com, March 2017

ERISA Attorneys Busy Analyzing Fiduciary Rule Delay

Abstract: The move from DOL this week was not an extension of the applicability date of the fiduciary rule, just a proposal to extend it; there still needs to be a thorough regulatory process to implement it. Several ERISA attorneys have indicated that the 15-day comment period allowed for this extension is "extraordinarily short."

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2017

Familiar Arguments in New JP Morgan ERISA Challenge

Abstract: JPMorgan Chase Bank is now the target of another ERISA challenge against its own 401k plan, this one leveling many of the same complaints against the company found in a previous lawsuit.

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2017

Employee Benefits in the Trump Administration

Abstract: With President Donald Trump now in the Oval Office, and both the Senate and House of Representatives being now controlled by the Republican party, changes to the regulatory agencies, their mandates and focus and tax reform all come into play to impact employee benefits. Republicans now have the opportunity to set the policy agenda and to move major pieces of legislation that could significantly impact the health and retirement systems, with these being the two expenditures on the books.

Source: Groom.com, March 2017

Why (Almost) Every Mutual Fund Company Can Expect to Be Sued

Abstract: If your employer's 401k plan is full of mutual funds, you're not alone: the companies that issue those mutual funds put them in their 401k plans, too. But this long-standing practice may be about to change. A new wave of litigation is targeting companies that put their own investment products in their workers' 401k plans.

Source: Bna.com, March 2017

Seventeen Facts That Sum Up Women's Retirement Risks

Abstract: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies has released a new research report, Seventeen Facts About Women's Retirement Outlook, which sheds light on vulnerabilities unique to women in their efforts to prepare for a secure retirement. The report is based on findings from TCRS' 17th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2017

DOL Proposes 60-Day Delay in Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: The DOL intends to delay, and so has issued a proposed rule to amend, the first applicability date of its fiduciary rule and corresponding prohibited transaction exemptions, including the Best Interest Contract Exemption, from April 10, 2017, to June 9, 2017. The proposed 60-day delay is subject to the DOL's completing its rulemaking process. Practically speaking, the DOL's adoption of this 60-day delay seems virtually certain and should be completed before the all-important April 10, 2017, implementation date.

Source: Wnj.com, March 2017

Americans in Agreement on Efforts to Improve Retirement Security

Abstract: An overwhelming majority of Americans (85%) say leaders in Washington do not understand how hard it is to prepare for retirement, a survey finds.

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2017

Workers Value Key Features of DC Plans

Abstract: A new study by LIMRA shows most workers understand the need to save for retirement and they prefer to do it through their employers with help from their companies.

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2017

Experts Still Expect Private Enforcement of Fiduciary Standard

Abstract: Even if the DOL leadership under President Trump declines to enforce a strict fiduciary standard, private litigators will undoubtedly pick up any slack if the administration fails to fully eliminate the Obama-era conflict of interest rulemaking.

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2017

Plan Sponsors Should Beware the Managed Account Default Option

Abstract: The world of 401k and 403(b) retirement plan sponsors has been somewhat nightmarish in recent years, marked by countless lawsuits over fees paid by participants for investment services. Now, those hoping to avoid being the next company in the headlines for the wrong reason are having to undertake a comprehensive audit of every fee charged to participants. The latest place plan sponsors should audit in detail is fees charged on managed accounts.

Source: Pionline.com, March 2017

Can A Retirement Plan Have Too Much Risk Management?

Abstract: Retirement plan fiduciaries and their advisors are well served by identifying primary goals, major obstacles and both short-term and long-term nightmares that would generate serious pain for participants. Said differently, risk management is a good thing unless it prevents someone from achieving important milestones.

Source: Pensionriskmatters.com, March 2017

Connecticut Bill Would Require 403(b) Service Providers to Describe Services, Disclose Compensation

Abstract: On Feb. 23, Connecticut House Bill 7161 was introduced. Entitled "An Act Requiring Service Providers Under Certain Retirement Plans to Disclose Conflicts of Interest," the bill requires all service providers to 403(b) plans in Connecticut to describe their services and disclose all the direct and indirect compensation received for the services.

Source: Ntsa-net.org, March 2017

IRS Updates 403(b) Self-Correction Procedure Info

Abstract: The IRS has updated the portion of its website that addresses how to self-correct defective 403(b) plan provisions during the remedial amendment period (RAP).

Source: Ntsa-net.org, March 2017

Half of Workers Would Save for Retirement if Payroll Deduction Was Available

Abstract: A new LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute study indicates 61 percent of U.S. workers without an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan would be more likely to save for retirement if they access to one. The majority of workers also feel that key features of the defined contribution system are important.

Source: Limra.com, March 2017

Tax Credit for Small Employer Start-Up Plans

Abstract: Many employers are unaware that, in certain circumstances, they may be eligible for a valuable tax credit in connection with their establishment of a retirement plan. Although this particular tax credit has been available for over a decade, it is still surprising to see the general lack of awareness that most plan sponsors have regarding this tax saving opportunity. This article is intended to familiarize readers with this tax credit so that they can attempt to evaluate its application to their (or their client's) tax situation.

Source: Legacyrsllc.com, March 2017

401k Plan Catch-up Contribution Eligibility

Abstract: Elective deferrals by a participant in excess of limits imposed under the plan document or by statute are commonly referred to as "catch-up" contribution. This article analyzes who is eligible to make a catch-up contribution and includes examples.

Source: Irs.gov, March 2017

Target-Date Decisions, Decisions: Getting the Biggest Bang for the Buck

Abstract: There are a host of target-date and plan design initiatives that the DC plan sponsor community is considering today that might, in theory, improve the retirement outcomes for their employees. This 14-page paper tests many of them by measuring the incremental impact each would have had over a specific 40-year time frame.

Source: Gmo.com, March 2017

The Missing DOL FAQs on "Consumer Protections for Retirement Investors"

Abstract: The DOL recently issued an important new FAQs to clarify the new fiduciary or conflict of interest rule. The link to this FAQ stopped working. Puzzled, the article author contacted DOL and learned that the link did not work because it had been pulled.

Source: Fiduciaryplangovernance.com, March 2017

Proposes Extension to Fiduciary Rule Applicability Date

Abstract: The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a proposed extension of the applicability dates of the fiduciary rule and related exemptions, including the Best Interest Contract Exemption, from April 10 to June 9, 2017.

Source: Dol.gov, March 2017

ERISA: A 40-Plus Year Retrospective

Abstract: ERISA has changed over the last 40 years. Over 160 legislative acts have amended this landmark law or the related provisions in the Internal Revenue Code. This article provides some retrospective and assessment.

Source: Bpsm.com, March 2017

California Mapping New Path for Secure Choice

Abstract: California officials are drafting a plan to launch a state-sponsored retirement savings program for private sector workers if Congress repeals Obama administration rules that cleared the way for it.

Source: Bna.com (registration may be required), March 2017

Inside the Minds of 401k Participants

Abstract: Retirement confidence is on the rise. But many 401k participants are not aware of -- or prepared for -- the industry-forecasted period of low returns. Fortunately, small but effective measures by both plan sponsors and participants can help bridge the savings shortfall.

Source: Blackrock.com, March 2017

Do Households Have a Good Sense of Their Retirement Preparedness?

Abstract: The analysis finds that almost 60 percent of households have a good sense of whether they are on track for retirement. But about 20 percent incorrectly think they are prepared, in large part because they do not recognize that their 401k savings are inadequate. These households are in the most danger of saving too little, but even those who know they are unprepared may not act unless prodded.

Source: Bc.edu, March 2017

Hardship Withdrawals Create Hardships for Plan Sponsors

Abstract: Many plan sponsors and third-party administrators limit hardship distributions to the safe harbor reasons so as to avoid a "facts and circumstances" review of a hardship request, but the safe harbor rules to avoid such review include more than simply restricting hardship distributions to the safe harbor reasons. Errors involving hardship distributions are among the top ten compliance issues found by the Employee Plans Team Audit Program of the IRS.

Source: Aon.com, March 2017

DOL Proposes Delay of Fiduciary Rule Applicability Date

Abstract: The Department of Labor published a proposed rule to delay the applicability date of the fiduciary advice regulation and related exemptions. The delay would extend the date from April 10 to June 9. To be clear, this is not an extension of the applicability date, just a proposal to extend it. It still needs to go through a regulatory process.

Source: Drinkerbiddle.com, March 2017


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