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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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DOL Fiduciary Rule Will Be Undone in a Cruel Twist

Abstract: Perhaps the biggest legislative effort since 1940 to put client interests ahead of Wall Street will be allowed to effectively die in a Texas court at the hands of what was once deemed to be a two-bit lawsuit, according to Jason Roberts, CEO of the Pension Resource Institute in Los Angeles.

Source: Riabiz.com, January 2017

SEC Publishes 2017 Examination Priorities

Abstract: The SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations published its examination priorities for 2017 for broker-dealers and investment advisers. The priorities generally reflect practices, products, and services that OCIE believes may present heightened risk to investors and to the integrity of the US capital markets. OCIE's 2017 priorities cover three broad areas.

Source: Practicallaw.com, January 2017

Firms Charge Ahead Regardless of Trump Policies

Abstract: Retirement industry executives overseeing one of the largest recordkeeping businesses around say they are optimistic for the future of DC retirement planning, whatever policies emerge from Washington.

Source: Planadviser.com, January 2017

Two New Sets of DOL Fiduciary Rule FAQs

Abstract: The DOL has released two new sets of frequently-asked-questions (FAQs) regarding the conflict of interest final rule on fiduciary investment advice. One of the new sets of FAQs focuses on the new definition of fiduciary investment advice itself.

Source: Morganlewis.com, January 2017

Franklin Resources Can't Get 401k Fee Lawsuit Dismissed

Abstract: Franklin Resources lost its bid for quick dismissal of a lawsuit claiming that it stuffed its workers' 401k plan with in-house mutual funds that carried excessive fees and performed worse than competitors' funds.

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

Warren Asks Financial Services Firms Where They Stand on Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: One of the fiduciary regulation's strongest proponents has reached out to the financial services sector for some support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has written to nearly three dozen financial services firms, firms that her letters suggest have "already announced" positive steps to ensure that their advisers are offering investment products that are in the client's best interest.

Source: Asppa.org, January 2017

What's the Most Common Match?

Abstract: The most common DC match turns out to not be the one that participants were more likely to get, according to a new report. Altogether, the most common match rates for employee contributions (with various limits on the maximum employee contribution matched) were 50% and 100%, both used by about 37% of plans, while the most common percentage of employee contributions matched (with a variety of limits on the percentage of the contribution matched) was 6%, used by 34.3% of plans.

Source: Asppa.org, January 2017

Updated Proposed Rules for Oregon Retirement Savings Plan Filed

Abstract: The Oregon State Treasury has updated proposed rules for the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan. The Treasury announced on Jan. 17 that it has filed the updated proposed rules with the Oregon Secretary of State.

Source: Asppa.org, January 2017

The 401k Problem We Refuse to Solve

Abstract: For all the people arguing that some dire problem in one of these three retirement systems urgently requires that we switch to another kind at once, the major problem with all three is the same. They're badly underfunded, but it's easy to fix.

Source: Bloomberg.com, January 2017

How to Sell Investment Services

Abstract: The term "consultative selling" was first used by author and sales expert Mack Hanan. The concept is simple. Know what your customer needs and offer them solutions to their problems. The process is a two-way street. Both buyer and provider are actively involved and should communicate clearly and with respect.

Source: Pensionriskmatters.com, January 2017

DOL Announces Annual Adjustments to Many Employee Benefit Plan Penalties

Abstract: The DOL has issued the first annual adjustment of civil monetary penalties for a wide range of benefit-related violations. The adjustments just announced are effective for penalties assessed after January 13, 2017, with respect to violations occurring after November 2, 2015.

Source: Thomsonreuters.com, January 2017

Understanding Your Retirement Plan Fee Methodology

Abstract: Understanding your retirement plan's fees is not only a good practice, it's a fiduciary requirement. The principal reason fees have been thrust into the limelight is that plan participants often bear most, if not all the cost of running the plan. This article does not discuss how to determine if fees are reasonable, but instead explores a relatively new debate over which fee assessment methodology is fairer.

Source: Strategicbenefitservices.com, January 2017

Enhancing DC Plan Processes and Outcomes in 2017

Abstract: With a backdrop of an uncertain regulatory environment and heightened litigation activity with a significant increase in not only the volume, but also the breadth of claims, 2017 provides an opportunity to double down on fundamentals. In short, this is an opportunity to go back to the basics, revisit process, past decisions and documentation.

Source: Rocaton.com, January 2017

Mercer Unveils Canadian Retirement Outlook for 2017

Abstract: Mercer launched its 25th Annual Retirement Outlook and Fearless Forecast series with an event in Toronto, projecting the retirement industry is poised for change in 2017 as more employers look at new approaches to meet the evolving pension landscape and employee demands.

Source: Mercer.ca, January 2017

DOL Releases Second Set of FAQ Guidance on Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: The DOL issued a second set of Frequently Asked Questions providing guidance on DOL's rule re-defining who is a fiduciary because of providing invest. advice for a fee. This second set of FAQs addresses interpretive questions about the Fiduciary Rule itself, including several of the important exceptions to fiduciary status included in the rule.

Source: Groom.com, January 2017

Winning Retirement Plan Business

Abstract: To be successful in the retirement plan space, the advisor must bring plan-design ideas to the table and put forth a viable action plan to improve the success of the company's retirement program. One way to do that is to partner with a TPA.

Source: Consultrms.com, January 2017

IRS OKs Use of Forfeitures as QNEC/QMAC/Safe Harbor Contributions

Abstract: Proposed IRS changes to 401k regulations will allow employers to use forfeitures as qualified nonelective and qualified matching contributions to help pass nondiscrimination tests and as safe harbor contributions. The change is proposed to be effective after it is finalized, but can be relied on now, great news for employers who have long operated using this logical approach.

Source: Conduent.com, January 2017

How to Make Your 401k or 403(b) Plan a Litigation Target

Abstract: Sometimes it seems as if these defendant fiduciaries were almost asking to be sued, since the practices being described in the complaints are so vulnerable to challenge. These lawsuits keep proliferating, so fiduciaries of 401k and 403(b) plans would be well advised to learn from what the defendants were alleged to have been doing wrong.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, January 2017

Correcting the "Best Guesses" on 403(b) Plan Terms

Abstract: The IRS has announced the end of the first remedial amendment period for 403(b) plan documents, in Revenue Procedure 2017-18. The last day of that RAP will be March 31, 2020. Now what do you do with it?

Source: Businessofbenefits.com, January 2017

Are Forum Selection Clauses Valid Under ERISA?

Abstract: The Supreme Court, for the second time, has now taken a pass on ruling on whether ERISA plans can contain forum selection clauses. A number of courts have enforced forum selection clauses in ERISA-governed plans, essentially treating them the same in that context as they would be treated in an action involving a typical private contract, where parties are generally free to select a forum for their disputes.

Source: Bostonerisalaw.com, January 2017

Could Fiduciary Standards Be Lowered to Encourage ESG?

Abstract: Groom Law says the strong push in international bodies such as the European Commission and OECD to encourage pensions to take into account environmental, social, ethical and governance (ESG) factors could spill over to the United States.

Source: Asppa.org, January 2017

Fewer Options = Better Investment Decisions?

Abstract: Decisions, decisions. In a land of plenty, there are myriad options in almost everything. And that often includes how one's retirement plan funds are to be invested. But a recent paper suggests that at least in that case, less may be more.

Source: Asppa.org, January 2017

Roth IRA vs 403(b)

Abstract: You may have a 403(b) retirement plan available, but all income earners also have the option to save for retirement in a Roth IRA. So, which one makes more sense? This article explains how they work and the differences.

Source: 403bwise.com, January 2017

IRS Publishes 403(b) Universal Availability Requirement Interpretation

Abstract: The IRS has issued a statement on 403(b) elective deferrals. Under the 403(b) Universal Availability Requirement, All employees of the employer must be eligible to make elective deferrals if any employee has the right to do so, with certain limited exceptions. Certain part-time employees may be excluded from eligibility to make elective deferrals.

Source: 401ktv.com, January 2017

Trump's Department of Labor Pick Puzder Ready to Bail?

Abstract: President-elect Donald Trump's choice to be labor secretary has voiced second thoughts in recent days, because of a relentless barrage of criticism from Democrats, labor unions and other liberal groups, says CNN, citing a business ally and GOP sources.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, January 2017

Workers Who Are Excluded From 401k Plans

Abstract: A recent GAO survey found that some groups of employees, including short-term, part-time and young workers, are often excluded from the company 401k plan or denied company contributions. Here's who might not be eligible to save in a 401k plan or keep an employer match and how much it's costing them in lost retirement savings.

Source: Yahoo.com, January 2017

IRS Proposes Changes to QMAC, QNEC Definitions

Abstract: Under the proposal, employer contributions to a plan would be able to qualify as QMACs or QNECs if they satisfy applicable nonforfeitability and distribution requirements at the time they are allocated to participants' accounts not when they are contributed to the plan.

Source: Plansponsor.com, January 2017

401k Advice in a Post-Fiduciary World

Abstract: Numerous surveys conclude that individual company 401k retirement plan participants want independent, third-party investment advice from an investment advisor who acts in their best interests regarding their retirement plan assets. The DOL fiduciary rule provides you exactly that opportunity now.

Source: Insurancenewsnet.com, January 2017

Dividing Qualified Retirement Plan in Divorce Via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order

Abstract: Fortunately for divorcing couples, there is a mechanism called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order which can be used with qualified retirement plans to divide the assets between divorcing spouses without the funds losing their favorable tax treatment and without application of any early-withdrawal penalties.

Source: Ctlawtribune.com, January 2017

Auto-Enrollment Pushes Retirement Plans Higher

Abstract: Plan assets for 401k plans and similar types of defined contribution plans have topped $7 trillion due to continued growth in employee contributions. Part of this increase is not due to employees consciously saving more; it is due to the continued growth of both auto-enrollment and auto-escalation features in a growing number of retirements plans.

Source: Schneiderdowns.com, January 2017

A Proposal: One Defined Contribution Account (NIRA) to Rule Them All

Abstract: Undue complexity reigns in our statutory law and the regulations that govern defined contribution plans. Often this is due to a mishmash of legislation adopted over time, amplified by the regulations that follow. This creates unnecessary administrative costs for employers. In this article, Ron Rhoades proposes "one defined contribution retirement account to rule them all."

Source: Scholarfp.blogspot.com, January 2017

Level Fee Fiduciary -- Past and Future

Abstract: The label "Level Fee Fiduciary" has been used for many years with one meaning, but the Best Interest Contract Exemption has used it for a different purpose and, depending on your reading, a different definition.

Source: Ntsa-net.org, January 2017

2017 Key Administrative Dates and Deadlines for Calendar-Year DC Plans

Abstract: This is a 4-page retirement plan chart and 2017 calendar for defined contribution plans, published Milliman. The document provides key administrative dates and deadlines for calendar-year plans.

Source: Milliman.com, January 2017

The DOL Fiduciary Class Action Lawsuit That Will Really Transform Financial Advice

Abstract: Right now there is no universally accepted minimum competency standard for financial advice, though certainly recognized rigorous designations that include both education and an advice process provide a likely path of safety for Financial Institutions. Which means in the coming year, there may soon be explosive growth in programs like the CFP and RMA, as Financial Institutions recognize and then try to minimize their exposure to a class action lawsuit for failing to meet the fiduciary duty of care.

Source: Kitces.com, January 2017

Most Small Employers Oppose State, Federal Government As Auto-IRA Sponsors

Abstract: While the vast majority of small-business owners support the idea of offering auto-IRAs to their employees, most oppose the plans being sponsored and administered by the state or federal government, according to a survey conducted Pew.

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

Qualified Retirement Plans in 2017 And Beyond: Resources and Considerations for Employers

Abstract: The IRS published its first Required Amendments List in early December, providing an opportunity to develop procedures for maintaining qualified status in 2017 and beyond. This article discusses some resources and considerations that may help to inform plan sponsor.

Source: Caplindrysdale.com, January 2017

How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?

Abstract: There are several metrics that you can use to determine where you are on your journey to building assets for retirement. Once you evaluate these barometers of building financial independence, you can better chart a path to improving your financial plan.

Source: Usnews.com, January 2017*

Small Business Views on Retirement Savings Plans

Abstract: The Pew Charitable Trusts recently surveyed over 1,600 small- and medium-sized business owners or managers to better understand the barriers to -- and motivations for -- offering retirement plans and to get their views on policy initiatives. The responses, in one of the few such surveys conducted in the past decade, generally show strong support for offering retirement benefits and for various policy initiatives that would boost savings.

Source: Pewtrusts.org, January 2017

403(b) Universal Availability Requirement

Abstract: A 403(b) plan must satisfy the universal availability requirement with respect to elective deferrals. All employees of the employer must be eligible to make elective deferrals if any employee has the right to do so, with certain limited exceptions. Certain part-time employees may be excluded from eligibility to make elective deferrals.

Source: Irs.gov, January 2017

The Role of IRAs in US Households' Saving for Retirement

Abstract: With $7.5 trillion in assets at the end of the second quarter of 2016, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) represented 31 percent of US total retirement market assets, compared with 19 percent two decades ago. Thus, IRAs play an increasingly important role in saving for retirement. This 40-page report breaks down the details.

Source: Ici.org, January 2017

Be a 401k Match-Maker

Abstract: If your company offers a 401k match and you're concerned about employees who aren't contributing enough to meet the full match, consider downloading and sharing this infographic in time for Valentine's Day.

Source: Fidelity.com, January 2017

Definition of Compensation

Abstract: One of the most common errors submitted to the IRS Voluntary Correction Program involves the Plan's Definition of Compensation. If the definition used in operation does not match the definition stated in the Plan Document, a failure has occurred.

Source: Ekonbenefits.com, January 2017

DOL's Conflict of Interest FAQs (Part II - Rule)

Abstract: Set out here are several FAQs regarding implementation of the conflict of interest final rule. Since the publication of the Rule last April, the DOL has held many meetings with stakeholders to assist in their compliance efforts. Many of the questions they raised related to the various Rule provisions that draw lines between fiduciary and non-fiduciary communications. Like the FAQs the DOL issued in October, this FAQs focus particularly on specific technical questions raised by financial service providers.

Source: Dol.gov, January 2017

Consumer Protections for Retirement Investors - FAQs on Your Rights and Financial Advisers

Abstract: The DOL's recently adopted Conflict of Interest Rule protects retirement investors by requiring advisers to adhere to a fiduciary standard and give advice that is in the investor's best interest. This FAQ provides information about the Rule and related protections so that one can better understand their rights and benefits. At the end of this FAQ is attached a list of questions that a retirement plan investor can ask their financial adviser.

Source: Dol.gov, January 2017

DOL Clarifies Fiduciary Standards on Proxy Voting and Investment Policies

Abstract: In response to concerns that prior guidance has unduly discouraged fiduciaries from exercising shareholder rights, the DOL issued guidance clarifying fiduciary duties on proxy voting and investment policy statements. The guidance also reiterates DOL's acceptance of applying environmental, social and governance policies to investment strategies. Plan fiduciaries wishing to increase shareholder engagement have room under this guidance to do so.

Source: Conduent.com, January 2017

Target-Date Funds With Annuities Can Be Prudent Default Investments

Abstract: Target-date funds with annuities can now be considered prudent default investment options, so long as certain liquidity requirements are met, the Department of Labor said in informal guidance.

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

Last Day of the Remedial Amendment Period for 403(b) Plans

Abstract: Revenue Procedure 2017-18 provides that the last day of the remedial amendment period for Section 403(b) arrangements for purposes of Section 21 of Revenue Procedure 2013-22 is March 31, 2020.

Source: Benefitsforward.com, January 2017

Gauging the Future of the DOL Fiduciary Rule in the Trump Era

Abstract: With the presidential election victory of Donald Trump and the success of Republicans in holding majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the immediate future of the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule has been cast into some doubt. A recent analysis explores what its prospects may be.

Source: Asppa.org, January 2017

Court Orders Fiduciary to Turn Over Cars in Settlement

Abstract: You're aware of the personal liability that comes with being an ERISA fiduciary. Apparently satisfying that liability can include your Lexus, both of them.

Source: Asppa.org, January 2017

Top Issue Currently "Reshaping" 401ks

Abstract: The research and consulting firm Callan Associates is out with its annual "Defined Contribution Trends Survey" and it reveals that (what else?) fees in 401ks are playing a heightened role in driving plan sponsor decision-making.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, January 2017

Disconnect Exist Between Perceptions of Plan Sponsors and Advisors

Abstract: Voya announced the findings of its survey of retirement plan sponsors and plan advisors. The goal of the survey, "Sponsor Perceptions of Retirement Plan Services: Challenges and Opportunities for Advisors," was to better understand what sponsors want from advisors in terms of services and support, as well as to identify unmet needs and emerging opportunities.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, January 2017

Advisors Should Appreciate Plan Design

Abstract: The coming changes in fee disclosure and the change of fiduciary will require financial advisors to have more of a background in retirement plan issues. But, financial advisors don't have the time to learn about plan design or fiduciary liability issues. Therefore, they need to work with the experts that do such as a third-party administration firm and an ERISA attorney.

Source: That401ksite.com, January 2017

Why Fiduciary Advisors Will Profit Without a Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: If or when the U.S. Department of Labor's new fiduciary rule gets smothered in its cradle by the incoming Trump administration -- as many expect it will be -- responsible financial advisors may still end up on top. So says Bob Veres, a leading proponent of fee-only financial advice for the past 30 years.

Source: Institutionalinvestor.com, January 2017

Chamber Seeks End to Minimum 401k Distributions

Abstract: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be urging Congress this year to end minimum payout requirements from 401ks and IRAs. The effort, along with an effort to spur multiple employer retirement plans, is part of a legislative roadmap for retirement benefits the chamber will roll out February 3rd.

Source: Fa-mag.com, January 2017

Internal Controls in a Retirement Plan

Abstract: Controls at the plan sponsor are important because they may help prevent mistakes in plan administration, help prevent fraud within the plan, and help the plan stay in compliance with laws and regulations. Although many plan sponsors are always looking to implement better controls, others are not as willing to strengthen controls, due to lack of time or resources.

Source: Belfint.com, January 2017

Plan Sponsors Starting to Offer Guaranteed Income Products, but Many Have Questions

Abstract: Guaranteed income products are a hot topic in 401k plans. The Plan Sponsor Council of America conducted a snapshot survey in the fall of 2016 to gauge whether plan sponsors are adding them to their plans, and if not, why.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, January 2017

Missing Participants: Gone but Not Forgotten

Abstract: In light of the more robust efforts being taken by the IRS and DOL in this area, it is best to craft or update procedures to help demonstrate compliance in locating lost participants and the timely payment of plan benefits. Having such procedures in place helps ensure that plan administrators are properly managing their fiduciary liability risk by taking reasonable and prudent steps to protect participants' and beneficiaries' rights to plan benefits.

Source: Truckerhuss.com, January 2017

Small Business Retirement Plans -- SEP-IRA vs. Solo 401k

Abstract: One of the best tax deductions for a small business owner is funding a retirement plan. Beyond any tax deduction, you are saving for your own retirement. If you don't plan for your own retirement who will? Two popular small business retirement plans are the SEP-IRA and Solo 401k.

Source: Thechicagofinancialplanner.com, January 2017

Denise Appleby's Employer Retirement Plans Comparison Table for Small Businesses-2017 Plan Year

Abstract: This table provides a comparison of the features and benefits that apply to retirement plans that can be sponsored/adopted by small business owners. Focus on the areas that are important to the business owner to help ensure that the plan chosen is the plan that is most suitable for the business.

Source: Retirementdictionary.com, January 2017

DOL Issues Interpretive Bulletin 2016-1 on Voting of Proxies

Abstract: The DOL issued Interpretive Bulletin 2016-1, which provides the DOL's supplemental views on the voting of proxies on securities held in employee benefit plan investment portfolios, the maintenance of and compliance with statements of investment policy (including proxy voting policy), and the exercise of other legal rights of plan shareholders.

Source: Practicallaw.com, January 2017

Mobile and Web Abilities Valued by DC Participants Has Changed

Abstract: Corporate Insight surveyed close to 1,500 participants and found the top-15 features most commonly identified by participants as "very important" or "extremely important" saw a considerable amount of change since the 2013 survey.

Source: Plansponsor.com, January 2017

Titles Advisers Use Are Playing a Bigger Role in Fiduciary Regulation

Abstract: Though uncertainty prevails around the future of the fiduciary rule under a new administration, there are clear indications that the titles financial advisers use will play a bigger role in fiduciary regulation going forward. Even opponents of the DOL rule appear to be zeroing in on titles that cause confusion with the investing public.

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

Improved Guidance Could Help Retirement Account Owners Understand the Risks of Investing in Unconventional Assets

Abstract: People who invest their retirement accounts in unconventional assets -- such as real estate or virtual currency -- may be placing their savings at risk. This GAO report recommends that the IRS improve guidance for account owners with unconventional retirement assets and clarify how to annually value such assets.

Source: Gao.gov, January 2017

Why aren't 401k Plan Sponsors and Participants Asking These Questions?

Abstract: Maybe plan sponsors and plan participants should be more concerned about the questions they're not asking than the ones they are asking. What are the questions 401k plan sponsors and participants are asking and what are the questions they should be asking?

Source: Fiduciarynews.com (registration may be required), January 2017

Four Traits of the Best Small Business 401k Providers

Abstract: There are thousands of 401k providers. This abundance of choice can make choosing a competent 401k provider with reasonable fees seem overwhelming for small business 401k fiduciaries. Fiduciaries should look for these four traits when shopping for a new provider.

Source: Employeefiduciary.com, January 2017

Guide to Commonly Used DC Plan Investment Vehicles

Abstract: This 21-slide presentation provides a better understanding of the various investment vehicles that are commonly used within DC plans, their benefits and drawbacks, and considerations for deciding which structure to use.

Source: Dciia.org, January 2017

"Retirement City" Game Brings Innovation to Participant Education

Abstract: Wells Fargo is broadening its retirement outreach with its new Retirement City game, a virtual world with quizzes and challenges to sharpen retirement knowledge. Participants choose from 40 avatars and enter a variety of challenges to move through the game's five levels of increasing difficulty, bringing them closer to retirement.

Source: Corporateinsight.com, January 2017

Ten Employee Benefits New Year Resolutions for 2017

Abstract: There's still plenty of time to make New Year resolutions. If you sponsor or work with an employee benefit plan, here 10 ideas to keep in mind in the upcoming year.

Source: Benefitsbryancave.com, January 2017

DOL Revisits, Relaxes Retirement Plan Proxy Voting Guidance

Abstract: While the DOL's conflict-of-interest guidance is unquestionably the most high-profile fiduciary issue today, it is far from being the only fiduciary consideration to those who sponsor or administer retirement plans. The DOL issued Interpretive Bulletin 2016-1 addresses retirement plan fiduciaries' responsibilities for voting proxies related to retirement plan investments. Notable in this guidance is the DOL's affirmation that plan fiduciaries may consider environmental, social, and governance factors.

Source: Ascensus.com, January 2017

Hospital Target in 403(b) Lawsuit Starts Off the Year

Abstract: Plan participants of Eseentia Health in Minnesota filed a class action lawsuit against the 403(b) plan sponsor claiming that the organization paid excessive fees to their recordkeepers. Experts are predicting an increasing number of lawsuits, especially against 403(b) plans which many consider low hanging fruit.

Source: 401ktv.com, January 2017

Study Demonstrates 401k Plans Are a Crucial Tool for Attracting and Retaining Millennial Talent

Abstract: A study from Fisher Investments 401k Solutions found that eighty percent of millennials say they would prefer to work for a company that offers a 401k plan, dispelling a commonly held belief that millennials are not as interested in 401k plans as other generations.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, January 2017

Spotlight on Fees Is Reshaping DC Plans

Abstract: Callan's 10th-annual "Defined Contribution Trends Survey" reveals that fees are playing a heightened role in driving plan sponsor decision-making. Reviewing plan fees was cited as a key area of fiduciary focus, both now and for the foreseeable future.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, January 2017

Boosting Retirement Savings Rates a Primary Focus for Employers in 2017

Abstract: Despite strong participation in employer-sponsored 401k plans, few employers are satisfied with their workers' current savings rates, per a new report from Aon Hewitt. In response, employers are focused on increasing savings rates and will continue to expand financial wellbeing programs this year.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, January 2017

Six Steps to a 401k Plan That's Ready for 2017

Abstract: For many people, the start of a new year means resolutions to get in shape, save money and spend more time with family. For 401k plan administrators, it's a good time to reflect on the plan's operation and make tune-ups where needed. Here are six steps you can take to make sure your plan is ready for the new year.

Source: Wnj.com, January 2017

Fiduciary Standard vs. Suitability Standard: The Gotcha That Won't Go Away

Abstract: While the DOL's new fiduciary rule arguably helps define the duties owed by financial advisers who provide investment advice to retirement plans and their participants, from a purely legal standpoint, those duties may already be sufficiently defined regardless of the actions the Trump administration may take.

Source: Iainsight.wordpress.com, January 2017

Public Comments on Form 5500 Modernization Proposals

Abstract: The Department of Labor has made available the public comments on its Form 5500 Modernization Proposals.

Source: Dol.gov, January 2017

DOL Green Lights Retirement Programs Run by Cities and Counties

Abstract: Recently issued guidance expands the DOL's state-based retirement safe harbor rule to political subdivisions under specified conditions. As such, cities and counties -- in addition to states -- now have the DOL's blessing to require private employers that do not sponsor a retirement savings plan for their entire employee population to facilitate employee participation in a government-run retirement program.

Source: Conduent.com, January 2017

Can 401ks Get You Where You Want to Go?

Abstract: It seemed like such a great idea. Workers could set aside some of their own money to save for retirement. But now the original advocates of the 401(k) plan say it didn't work out so well.

Source: Bankrate.com, January 2017

How to Make the 401k Better

Abstract: Workplace retirement plans -- most often, the 401k -- have pros and cons. People who have done well are those workers who have maxed out on their contributions year in and year out. Here's how financial experts suggest improving 401k plans and changing your own behaviors.

Source: Bankrate.com, January 2017

Recordkeepers Gear Up for Advice Role

Abstract: Several large recordkeepers are expanding their fiduciary duties by providing more advice to defined contribution clients in response to the Department of Labor's conflict-of-interest rule that is slated to take effect in April.

Source: Pionline.com, January 2017

Brace for Thousands of New DOL Fiduciary-Friendly Mutual Fund Share Classes

Abstract: Expect a barrage of new, DOL fiduciary-friendly T share classes from the mutual fund industry this year, according to Morningstar. The Chicago-based investment tracker says that as many as 3,800 new share classes could make their debut in response to the new Department of Labor fiduciary rule.

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

J.C. Penney Agrees to Pay $4.5 Million to Settle 401k Suit

Abstract: Department-store chain J.C. Penney is poised to pay $4.5 million to settle allegations over company stock in the firm's 401(k) plan, following a district court judge's preliminary approval of the settlement.

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

Eight Ways to Protect Your Advisory Firm From Cyberattacks

Abstract: With heightened regulatory scrutiny, greater frequency of data breaches, and high-profile incidents of hacks pervasive in the daily news cycle, advisory firms have sharply increased their focus on cybersecurity. While the risk can't be eliminated, steps to raise awareness, adhere to best practices and have a detailed plan can help protect a firm and its clients.

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

Millennials Fear Financial Security, but Not 401ks

Abstract: The Country Financial Security Index remained largely flat year-over-year from December 2015 to December 2016. However, the score among millennials was the lowest among all the age groups polled.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, January 2017

Five Ways Your Retirement Plan May Change in 2017

Abstract: The start of a new year brings with it reflection on the year that has passed and anticipation for the changes that may be coming. For retirement plans, this often means a look at new federal regulations, new technology, and new industry trends. Here are five ways your retirement plan may change in 2017.

Source: Retirementtownhall.com, January 2017

Americans Steadily Boosting 401k Deferral Rates

Abstract: It's not news that Americans aren't saving enough. But the new year brings with it some good news: If people do have a 401k plan through their employer, there's data showing them choosing to set aside more for their later years.

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

Congressman Introduces Bill Delaying DOL Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson introduced a bill today that would provide for a 2-year delay in the effective date of the Department of Labor rule relating to the definition of the term fiduciary.

Source: Joewilson.house.gov, January 2017

2017 Annual Plan Deadlines

Abstract: There are many important requirements for DC plans that occur either during the calendar year or during the plan year. These requirements include participant statements, compliance testing and remittance of plan contributions. This chart (although not intended to be exhaustive) includes the key annual events which must occur within a specific deadline.

Source: Voya.com, January 2017

Gender Retirement Gap

Abstract: Many people save for retirement through their employer, who in turn applies gender-neutral saving rates, investment choices, and spending strategies in retirement. Intuitively this creates a sense of fairness, but this intuition masks the reality that many women face. The challenges women face are arguably greater than those confronted by men.

Source: Ssrn.com, January 2017

Recordkeeping Fees Trigger Latest Excessive Fee Suit

Abstract: A new excessive fee lawsuit claims that plan fiduciaries caused plans to "pay excessive fees" and failed to "monitor and control the Plans' escalating costs," resulting in millions of dollars of losses to the plans, and this time share classes are not the issue.

Source: Ntsa-net.org, January 2017

Breaking Down the Three Key Elements of the DOL Fiduciary Rule

Abstract: All three elements described in the DOL's Fiduciary Rule -- (1) a fiduciary (2) that renders (non-discretionary) investment advice (3) for compensation -- must be present in order for the Rule to apply to an advisor communicating with a plan participant or an IRA owner.

Source: Morningstar.com, January 2017

Outlook for 2017 Retirement Plan Litigation

Abstract: Copycat lawsuits targeting 403(b) plans, as well as litigation probing a fiduciary's duty to monitor investments, the DOL fiduciary rule, church retirement plans and cybersecurity issues are likely to crop up this year.

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

DOL Provides Updated Guidance on Proxy Voting by Employee Benefit Plans

Abstract: The DOL released Interpretive Bulletin 2016-01 which provides updated guidance for ERISA plan fiduciaries with respect to the voting of proxies on individual securities held in employee benefit plan portfolios and the appropriateness of active engagement with corporate management by plan fiduciaries.

Source: Haynesboone.com, January 2017

Trump's SEC Pick Seen Unlikely to Advance Fiduciary Standard

Abstract: With the selection of Jay Clayton to head up the SEC, President-elect Trump has not chosen a government veteran or an attorney with a long record of investor advocacy. Instead, Clayton is someone who some expect to scale back enforcement activity and unlikely to race toward major new rulemakings.

Source: Financial-Planning.com, January 2017

What Trump's Election Could Mean for Your Employee Benefit Plans

Abstract: Now that the most unorthodox presidential election our country has ever seen is over and President-Elect Trump will be sworn into office in January, it's time to take a look at his position on key issues and the possible impact on your overall benefit strategy.

Source: Fidelity.com, January 2017

401ks Are an Accident of History

Abstract: In this opinion piece, the author notes that "401ks were never intended to replace pensions, so it should be no surprise that they aren't up to the task. This has been pointed out before, but it's nice to be reminded that even the people who came up with the 401k concept now 'lament the revolution they started.'"

Source: Epi.org, January 2017

Prudential Cleared in 401k Pay-to-Play Lawsuits

Abstract: Prudential Retirement defeated a pair of lawsuits accusing it of operating a "pay-to-play" scheme for the mutual funds offered through the 401(k) plans it services.

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

2017: MEPs, State Plans, Education Loom Large

Abstract: The champagne flutes may be dry, but plenty of bubbling exuberance remains. And regarding retirement plans, several experts tell us that multiple employer plans (MEPs), state plans and financial education are areas in 2017 in which that exuberance will be especially pronounced.

Source: Asppa.org, January 2017

Best Practices for RIA Business Continuity Plans

Abstract: While the SEC proposed Rule 206(4)-4 has not yet been adopted, RIAs should nonetheless review their business continuity and disaster recovery plans and ensure that they address many of the issues identified in the proposal, which are reviewed here, and incorporate certain best practices so that they are better positioned to respond to and recover from significant business disruption events.

Source: Alston.com, January 2017

SEC Offers Guidance on DOL Fiduciary Rule Compliance

Abstract: Since the DOL conflict of interest rule's publication, mutual fund providers and their adviser-intermediaries have also been asking the SEC extensive questions about sales loads, fee schedules, etc.

Source: Planadviser.com, January 2017

The Potential Liability of Participant Directed 401k Plans

Abstract: This article is about the hidden liability of ERISA 404(c) participant directed plans and how to avoid that potential liability as a plan sponsor.

Source: Jdsupra.com, January 2017

Do Your Fiduciaries Negotiate for Lower 401k Plan Fees?

Abstract: Fiduciaries of very large plans who wouldn't think of not haggling with a dealer over the price of a new car or a hotly negotiating a business deal have sometimes neglected to leverage their plan's size to negotiate lower 401k fees. The result is a sharply increased risk of being sued.

Source: Cohenbuckmann.com, January 2017

Information Letter on Application of Fiduciary Provisions to Certain Default Investments

Abstract: The DOL has issued an Information Letter on the application of ERISA's fiduciary provisions to default investments with lifetime income features that contain certain liquidity and transferability restrictions.

Source: Benefitsforward.com, January 2017

SEC Gets in on 401k Fiduciary Rule Compliance

Abstract: The Guidance Update will make it easier for mutual funds to create and administer compensation arrangements tailored to comply with the fiduciary rules. It does not address, however, the extent to which brokers may independently set their compensation.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, January 2017

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