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401k Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2013

Summary: This comprehensive 56 page report is an update of EBRI and ICI's ongoing research into 401k plan participants' activity through year-end 2013.The report is divided into four sections: the first describes the EBRI/ICI 401k database; the second presents a snapshot of participant account balances at year-end 2013; the third looks at participants' asset allocations, including analysis of 401k participants' use of target-date, or lifecycle, funds; and the fourth focuses on participants' 401k loan activity.

Source: Ebri.org , December 2014

Majority of New 401k Participants Rely on Balanced and Target-Date Funds, EBRI

Summary: The evolution of 401k plan designs has resulted in a significant increase in the use of balanced funds, including target-date funds, by recently hired 401k plan participants in 2013 compared with recently hired participants 15 years ago, according to a newly updated annual report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

Source: Ebri.org , December 2014

Baby Boomers Are Revolutionizing Retirement, Are Employers Ready?

Summary: The nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies just released a new report, Baby Boomer Workers are Revolutionizing Retirement: Are They and Their Employers Ready?, which examines the retirement vision among Baby Boomer workers (born between 1946 and 1964) and the level of involvement among employers to facilitate their transitioning into retirement. Report details included in article.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, December 2014

Ten Tips for Retirement Plan Executives and Managers

Summary: This article examines ten proven actions that all executives can follow to significantly and quickly improve their organizations' ERISA-related risk management programs.

Source: Rolandcriss.com , December 2014

The Australian Retirement Income System: Comparisons With and Lessons for the United States

Summary: Paper briefly compare the Australian and US economies and demographics, and then describes the Australian arrangements and assess its econ efficiency and efficacy in delivering retirement support. Concludes by considering insights for the evolution of the US pension reform debate as demographic change unfolds.

Source: Pensionresearchcouncil.org, December 2014

ERISA Advisory Committee on Lifetime Plan Participation

Summary: The ERISA Advisory Council presented its recommendations on two retirement issues it studied in 2014: Facilitating Lifetime Plan Participation and Outsourcing Employee Benefit Plan Services. This article discusses their recommendations on "lifetime plan participation" and how they may play out in regulatory or sponsor initiatives.

Source: Octoberthree.com, December 2014

PSCA Releases Research on 403(b) Plans

Summary: Most not-for-profit organizations believe they have a responsibility to encourage their employees to save for retirement, but only 10.6 percent of those organizations are able to measure potential participant outcomes as part of their retirement plans, according to a new survey of 403(b) plan sponsors from the Plan Sponsor Council of America.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, December 2014

For Retirement Preparation, Higher Ed Is at the Head of the Class

Summary: College faculty and staff are better prepared for retirement than the general population, according to a new TIAA-CREF survey. In addition to saving in their employer-sponsored retirement plan, 42 percent of higher education employees have saved in an IRA, compared to 34 percent of American employees overall. While 36 percent of college faculty and staff say they have met with a financial advisor, only 22 percent of the general population report the same.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, December 2014

Changes to Plan Design Result in Better Outcomes and Increased Plan Participation

Summary: White paper from Prudential has found that changing a plan's design, including the addition of an in-plan guaranteed lifetime income solution, improved participation and contributions. According to the paper, plans can increase participation rates nearly 35 percent by making slight modifications to plan design, with the addition of a lifetime income solution and the use of auto enrollment and auto escalation.

Source: Prudential.com , December 2014

401k Plan Costs Decline As Indexing Becomes More Popular

Summary: Average asset-weighted total plan costs for 401k plans dropped to 39 basis points in 2012 vs. 49 basis points in 2009, according to a report released Monday. The decline in expenses, management fees, administrative fees, advice fees and other costs, was felt most strongly by the largest plans and the smallest plans, the report said. One possible contributor to lower costs is the growing popularity of index funds.

Source: Investmentnews.com (free registration may be required), December 2014

Plan Profile Series: A Close Look at 401k Plans

Summary: This 64 page BrightScope/ICI Defined Contribution Plan Profile focuses primarily on private-sector 401k plans. It analyzes more than 35,000 DC plans that have between four and 100 investment options. This report focuses on plan year 2012, presenting data on how 401k plans are structured, the types of service providers that plan sponsors engage with, and the fees and expenses paid by 401k participants and plan sponsors for these services.

Source: Ici.org , December 2014

What Do Jelly Beans and the Stock Market Have in Common?

Summary: This white paper reveals the results of an experiment on how jelly beans and the stock market have more in common than you may think. Hint, if you believe that the market has it wrong, you are pitting your knowledge or hunches against the combined knowledge of millions of other market participants.

Source: Greenspringwealth.com , December 2014

Fee Compression Slowing, Fee Structures Changing

Summary: Asset levels continue to peak in DC plans, driving fees tied to asset levels higher in the investment management as well as recordkeeping and administration marketplaces. However, after three straight years of material compression in recordkeeping and administration expenses, the market may have found equilibrium.

Source: Multnomahgroup.com, December 2014

Evaluating Plan Expenses: A Road Map of Possible Routes and Potholes to Avoid!

Summary: It is important for plan fiduciaries to understand that while certain plan expenses can be paid out of plan assets, such expenses must be reasonable. A plan fiduciary must also evaluate and defray investment fees and expenses as part of that process because such costs could have a significant impact on plan investment returns. Therefore, to fully satisfy his/her fiduciary obligations with respect to a plan, each fiduciary should understand how to evaluate the myriad of plan fees, including unraveling those associated with various plan investments and plan services. This article provides guidance.

Source: Drinkerbiddle.com , December 2014

Hiring a Quality Auditor to Perform Your Employee Benefit Plan Audit

Summary: The AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center prepared this 24 page advisory to provide plan sponsors, administrators, and trustees with an understanding of the importance of hiring a quality auditor to perform their employee benefit plan financial statement audit, and information to help select a quality auditor.

Source: Aicpa.org , December 2014

Roadmap to a Successful Tiered Investment Menu Design and Communication Program

Summary: Plan fiduciaries have an important task of managing fiduciary responsibility and, at the same time, designing an investment menu that is easily understood by participants and addresses the needs of a diverse participant base. Thoughtful investment design can help lead to better participant outcomes. This paper suggests that a first step is to shift the focus of menu design to a tiered structure, based on a plan's unique needs and the level of participant involvement.

Source: Manning-napier.com , December 2014

A Road Less Traveled: Including Alternative Investments in a 401k Plan

Summary: There has been a steadily increasing acceptance of alternative investments as part of a retirement plan's investment portfolio, including in 401k plans. Their appeal lies in their unique asset classes and investment strategies which offer potentially higher returns, diversification, or downside risk protection. This article by Marcia Wagner discusses some of the issues raised by including alternative investments in 401k plan investment menus.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com , November 2014

GAO Report on Multimillion Dollar IRAs

Summary: The GAO Recommends that Congress consider revisiting its legislative vision for the use of IRAs. GAO makes five recommendations to IRS, including approving plans to fully compile and digitize new data on nonpublicly traded IRA assets and seeking to extend the statute of limitations for IRA noncompliance. IRS generally agreed with GAO's recommendations.

Source: Gao.gov, November 2014

New Research on Women and Retirement

Summary: Retirement savings shortfalls are imminent unless women can start saving more, according to a new global study by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. The report on women in retirement polled 16,000 individuals in 15 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia. The report cites ways that policymakers and employers can help women and men achieve a better retirement.

Source: Transamericacenter.org , November 2014

Using DC Plans to Improve Retirement Readiness

Summary: The 2014 DC Plan Sponsor Survey Report includes responses from 457 large and midsize U.S. companies that sponsor a 401k or 403(b) plan. It summarizes the design, investments, communication approaches and fee practices in their programs.

Source: Towerswatson.co, November 2014

Are Retirees Falling Short? Reconciling the Conflicting Evidence

Summary: This paper examines conflicting assessments of whether people will have adequate retirement income to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. Paper covers key findings and public policy implications.

Source: Crr.bc.edu, November 2014

Workers Rate Benefits Important, Show High Take-Up Rates

Summary: he vast majority of workers say their benefits package is important to their decision to take a job, as supported by the high take-up rates when benefits are offered, according to a new report by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Source: Ebri.org , November 2014

A Fiduciary Tune-Up

Summary: This 65 page paper by attorney John L. Utz, of Utz & Lattan, was presented at the recent 25th Annual SW Benefits Compliance Conference. The paper reviews a number of topics including: Does Dudenhoeffer change who should serve on a fiduciary committee, making sure investment consultants are subject to fiduciary standards, and IRS emphasis on internal controls and what it means for fiduciaries.

Source: Utzlattan.com , November 2014

Impending Changes to Private Retirement Plans

Summary: The retirement landscape in America is shifting. The private pension system is under pressure and may be significantly changed through tax reform or more direct efforts to alter the character of the system to a more centralized model. In this eight page article, Marcia Wagner reviews many of the ways policymakers are working to transform the current system.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com , November 2014

The Middle-Income Boomer Retirement Gap: Savings, Education and Advice

Summary: The challenges of saving, investing and managing assets through retirement are becoming more complex. Navigating this world requires an increased level of knowledge, training and experience with financial matters and an ability to draw on trusted resources for information and guidance. This study explores how middle-income Boomers are saving for retirement, and the extent they use financial professionals for retirement advice.

Source: Centerforasecureretirement.com , November 2014

Small Business Study Reveals Disconnect Between Retirement Preparedness and Aspirations

Summary: The Small Business Owners Retirement Readiness Study shines a spotlight on small business owners' perspective on retirement and provides a better understanding of their retirement needs and aspirations. Compared to the 2011 study, SBOs are feeling more confident, 52 percent of SBOs state they are either "very" or "fairly" well prepared for retirement, and 56 percent have a clear vision of how they will spend their time once they are no longer involved with the business.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, November 2014

Survey Reveals That, Despite Challenges, More Women Looking Forward to Retirement

Summary: Despite starting with less savings at retirement and needing to fund more years in retirement, a new survey from Financial Engines found that women are surprisingly optimistic about their golden years. Fifty-one percent of women surveyed said that they are looking forward to retirement, compared to just 41 percent of men.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, November 2014

Special Report: Fewer Firms Servicing the 401k Field

Summary: Over the past year, competition for 401k providers has increased and the competition has never been fiercer. Consolidation has picked up and there may only be five or six providers left in a few years according to some sources. In 2007, Callan data showed 38 major players offering recordkeeping services. Today, only 29 are still in the market.

Source: Workforce.com, November 2014

Improving Asset Allocation With Factor Analysis

Summary: This NEPC research paper recommends using macroeconomic risk factor analysis to provide new insights into portfolio management. A multi-disciplinary and holistic approach that includes factor analysis can strengthen the asset allocation decision-making process.

Source: Nepc.com , November 2014

Defined Contribution Plan Participants' Activities, First Half 2014

Summary: To measure participant-directed changes in DC plans, ICI has been tracking participant activity through recordkeeper surveys since 2008. This report updates results from ICI's survey of a cross section of recordkeeping firms representing a broad range of DC plans and covering about 25 million employer-based DC retirement plan participant accounts as of June 2014. The broad scope of the recordkeeper survey provides valuable insights about recent withdrawal, contribution, asset allocation, and loan decisions of participants in these plans.

Source: Ici.org , November 2014

Recordkeeper Data Show Retirement Plan Participants' Commitment to Saving

Summary: ICI's latest study of retirement plan savers' actions, based on defined contribution plan recordkeeper data covering about 25 million employer-based DC plan participant accounts, shows Americans' continuing commitment to saving for retirement.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, November 2014

Better Financial Security in Retirement? Realizing the Promise of Longevity Annuities

Summary: This paper highlights how recent trends have hastened a need for products that offer protection against longevity risk, considers whether longevity annuities can improve retirement security, then highlights barriers to more widespread take-up of longevity annuities, and offer a menu of potential reforms to bolster this fledgling market.

Source: Brookings.edu , November 2014

A Path to Better Retirement Outcomes: Allocating Real Estate Assets to Retirement Portfolios

Summary: DCREC released this white paper on allocating real estate assets to retirement portfolios. The paper found that by adding as little as 10% allocation to listed and unlisted real estate in a DC plan may improve retirement outcomes.

Source: Dcrec.org , November 2014

Fidelity Reports Average 401k Balance Rise; Contributions Up

Summary: Fidelity Investments discloses that quarter-end 401k balance increased nearly six percent over the same period last year and employee contributions into 401k accounts continued to trend upward, reaching record levels.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, November 2014

401k Participation Rate Varies Widely by State, Delaware Tops

Summary: Judy Diamond Associates released an analysis of 401k participation rates by states, revealing wide disparities in states' performance on this crucial measure of retirement preparedness. Delaware had the highest participation rate at 85.8%. Nevada had the lowest participation rate at 53.0%.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, November 2014

Infographic: Retirement Income Then and Now

Summary: The Investment Company Institute recently examined retirees' sources of income in 1975 and 2013. Then and now, Social Security accounted for more than half of a retiree's income stream.

Source: Aarp.org, November 2014

Top 20 International Stock Funds Held in DC Marketplace, BrightScope

Summary: BrightScope announced the ranking of the Top 20 International Stock Funds in the defined contribution industry based on total distribution.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2014

What Plan Sponsors Should Know About Automatic Rollovers and Where to Find Help

Summary: Plan sponsors have long wondered what best practices are in handling terminated, missing and lost plan participants. One option for DC sponsors for those with terminated participants that have account balances of $5,000 or less is to automatically roll such participants out of the plan and into a safe harbor IRA. However, for plan sponsors, the selection of a provider for such a service requires the proper due diligence and can be challenging.

Source: Mtrustcompany.com , October 2014

How Big Is the Problem? The High Cost of Accounts Left Behind

Summary: On the surface, the expense of administering accounts with small balances in a retirement plan may seem relatively immaterial and inexpensive. This whitepaper helps quantify the costs of maintaining small balance accounts for former employees. It offer some solutions for mitigating these costs as well as minimizing the fiduciary responsibilities created by these accounts.

Source: Mtrustcompany.com , October 2014

401k Wellness Scorecard

Summary: This scorecard monitors plan participants' behavior and sponsors' adoption of new plan design features and services in Bank of America Merrill Lynch 401k business. This report indicates that employees recognize the value of their retirement plans, and plan sponsors are interested in a plan design focused on supporting employees' efforts to save for the future.

Source: Baml.com , October 2014

$460 Billion in DC Plan Assets in Search of a New Home

Summary: After years of extremely low turnover, retirement plan sponsors are giving serious consideration to altering their 401k plan recordkeeping relationships. With the current US-based 401k retirement plan assets estimated at $4.4 trillion assets controlled by plan sponsors planning a move represents a $460 billion opportunity for providers that can effectively differentiate themselves in an increasingly commoditized marketplace.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2014

Retirement Plan Participation Starts Ticking Up Again

Summary: The percentage of workers who participate in an employment-based retirement plan increased in 2013 for the first time since 2010 -- both among all workers and private-sector workers, according to a new report by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute. Specifically, the percentage of all workers participating in an employment-based retirement plan increased to 40.8 percent in 2013, up from 39.7 percent in 2010.

Source: Ebri.org , October 2014*

Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends

Summary: This paper examines the level of participation by workers in public- and private-sector, employment-based pension or retirement plans. It begins with an overview of retirement plan types and participation in these types of plans and describes the data used in this study, along with their relative strengths and weaknesses. It then explores retirement plan participation across U.S. geographical regions.

Source: Ebri.org, October 2014

Frequently Asked Questions About 401k Plans

Summary: The Investment Company Institute has updated their FAQ on 401k retirement plans. Some of the questions covered are: How large is the 401k market? How many Americans have 401ks? What is the average 401k plan account balance? What role do mutual funds play in 401k plan investing?

Source: Ici.org, October 2014

Preliminary Information on IRA Balances Accumulated as of 2011

Summary: In 2014, the U.S. federal government will forgo an estimated $17.5 billion in tax revenue from IRAs. Congress limited annual contributions to IRAs to prevent the tax-favored accumulation of unduly large balances, but concerns have been raised that tax benefits accrue primarily for higher -income individuals. This GAO report provides observations based on ongoing work on information on IRA balances in terms of reported fair market value aggregated by taxpayers.

Source: Gao.gov, October 2014

State of U.S. Employee Retirement Preparedness

Summary: Financial Finesse has released its annual research report on the state of U.S. employee retirement preparedness for 2014. This 15 page report finds employers are taking the right steps to improve retirement plan preparedness, but economic and market uncertainty may be creeping into the national psyche.

Source: Financialfinesse.com , October 2014

Saving for Retirement Not Happening for a Third of Middle Class

Summary: Saving for retirement is a formidable challenge for middle-class Americans, with 34% not currently contributing anything to a 401k, an IRA or other retirement savings vehicle, according to the fifth annual Wells Fargo Middle-Class Retirement study. Forty-one percent of middle-class Americans between the ages of 50 and 59 are not currently saving for retirement. Nearly a third (31%) of all respondents say they will not have enough money to "survive" on in retirement, and this increases to nearly half (48%) of middle-class Americans in their 50s.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2014

A Look at Private-Sector Retirement Plan Income After ERISA

Summary: The importance of private-sector DB pensions in providing retirement income is often exaggerated. The time before the emergence of 401k plans in 1981 has been characterized by many as the golden age of the golden watch: a time when most private-sector workers retired with a monthly pension check that replaced a significant portion of their pre-retirement income. Against this standard, 401k plans are judged to be falling short. The facts support a different narrative.

Source: Ici.org , October 2014

Nearly Half of Americans Surveyed Think They Pay Zero Retirement Investment Fees

Summary: A new survey commissioned by retirement investment advisory firm Rebalance IRA finds that many full-time employed baby boomers do not have a clear understanding of the fees they are paying in their retirement accounts. When asked what they pay in retirement account fees, 46 percent believed that they do not pay any fees at all.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2014

Five Ways Employers Can Improve Their 401ks

Summary: 401k's and similar plans play a vital role in the American retirement system by helping workers save and invest for retirement. Yet, workers need to save more to achieve a financially secure retirement and a few plan design changes could help them do so. Here are five suggestions.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2014

Farewell to Company Stock, or Not?

Summary: This article deals with DC litigation around company stock and the potential effect of the recent Supreme Court decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoefferon. It suggests that the risk to plan sponsors of offering company stock may be slightly higher given the Court's rejection of the presumption of prudence and explains that simply "hardwiring" company stock into a DC plan document and then following the document without more process will not be sufficient.

Source: Pimco.com , October 2014

Canada's Retirement Income System Ranks High

Summary: Canada's retirement income system maintained its 'B' grade in the 2014 edition of the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI), reinforcing its position as one of the leading retirement income systems in the world. While Canada's ranking fell from sixth to seventh after the addition of five new countries, Canada's overall score in the index increased slightly from 67.9 to 69.1.

Source: Benefitscanada.com, October 2014

Are Employees Getting What They Need From Their Workplace Benefits?

Summary: Seventy-four percent of middle-income employees derive the majority of their financial security from the benefits they receive at the workplace, according to the 2014 Guardian Workplace Benefits StudySM. Despite the importance of benefits, only one in four employees finds their company's communications helpful in choosing what's right for them.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2014

NEPC 2014 Defined Contribution Plan & Fee Survey: What Plan Sponsors Are Doing Now

Summary: NEPC's Defined Contribution practice group conducts an annual Defined Contribution Plan and Fee Survey to help plan sponsors understand and benchmark the fees, pricing and structure of their defined contribution plans. In its ninth year now, this 2014 Survey includes data from 113 plans, encompassing over 1.4 million plan participants. This is a five page summary.

Source: Nepc.com , October 2014

ICI Study Examines Who Gets Retirement Plans

Summary: An updated study released today by the Investment Company Institute finds that most workers who are likely to have the ability to save and to be focused primarily on saving for retirement have access to an employer-provided retirement plan. In Who Gets Retirement Plans and Why, 2013, ICI uses the most recent data on pension coverage to update its analysis of the employee characteristics that make some employers more likely to offer, and some workers more likely to seek, compensation packages that include retirement benefits.

Source: Ici.org, October 2014

Which Employees Are Delaying Retirement and Why?

Summary: Retirement patterns are changing in the U.S. and in many other countries as well. During the mid-to-late 20th century, labor force participation rates dropped for older workers and rose for younger ones. These trends have recently reversed, especially among men and younger workers. This article reviews these shifts.

Source: Towerswatson.com, September 2014

Creating Sustainable Retirement Income in 401k plans Using Managed Risk Funds

Summary: This white paper discusses how 401k participants are faced with a serious risk: will their retirement account (coupled with Social Security and personal savings) provide them with adequate income to last through retirement? Authors discusses how managed risk funds help mitigate the volatility risk without dampening the higher return potential of equities.

Source: Drinkerbiddle.com , September 2014

Retirement Savings and Tax Reform White Paper

Summary: In this white paper, the American Council of Life Insurers contends that Congress should do no harm to the existing retirement savings system in the context of tax reform. Further, policy-makers should avoid disrupting a system that helps millions of Americans save for retirement. Instead, Congress should focus on enhancing the system so that it reaches more Americans.

Source: Acli.com , September 2014

Designing Balanced DC Menus: Considering Capital Preservation Strategies

Summary: DC plan sponsors face a challenge in selecting capital preservation strategies, which seek to preserve invested principal. Recent money market fund reforms will likely stress yields, which already are negative in real terms, and while many stable value strategies historically have provided attractive returns, not all plan sponsors can avail themselves of this option. Paper suggests that a customized and actively managed low-risk bond strategy may offer an attractive capital preservation-focused solution.

Source: Pimco.com, September 2014

Creating Sustainable Retirement Income in 401k Plans Using Managed Risk Funds

Summary: One approach for plan committees seeking ways to help their participants accumulate adequate sustainable retirement income is to offer managed risk funds as a designated investment alternative. Such funds are designed to permit participants to maintain exposure to equity investments while also stabilizing volatility and reducing the potentially devastating effects of sequence-of-returns risk.

Source: Milliman.com , September 2014

Make Your Retirement Plan an Anti-Fraud Control

Summary: According to the most recent Association of Certified Fraud Examiners report, fraud can represent approximately five percent of a company revenue annually. Fraud could be a significant charge to the bottom line. This video offers an idea on how your retirement plan can be an anti-fraud control.

Source: Erisasunscreen.com, September 2014

401k Plan Recordkeeper Seen as Primary Advice Source

Summary: New research from Cerulli Associates finds that more than 25% of 401k participants consider the plan recordkeeper to be their primary source of retirement advice.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, September 2014

Most Assets Eligible for Distribution Remain In DC Plans, Cerulli

Summary: According to new research from global analytics firm Cerulli Associates, approximately $720 billion of defined contribution assets that were eligible for distribution remained in an employer-sponsored plan in 2013. That is nearly twice as large as the amount that rolled out.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, September 2014

401k/IRA Holdings in 2013: An Update

Summary: The release of the Federal Reserve's 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances is a great opportunity to see how the positive developments of the last few years -- a recovering economy, strong stock performance, and the continuing maturation of the 401k system -- have affected workers' retirement wealth. This 15 page white paper documents the trend in individual decisions regarding the accumulation of assets in 401k's and IRA's.

Source: Bc.edu , September 2014

401k Investments: A Plan for Disengaged Sponsors

Summary: New models and solutions for less than fully engaged plan sponsors and participants that leverage the investment manager role outlined in ERISA Section 3(38) represent a significant step forward in the evolution of DC plans and their chances of providing meaningful retirement outcomes for participants and beneficiaries.

Source: Captrustadvisors.com , September 2014

Best Practices White Paper: Rolling Out a Social Media Policy

Summary: Financial services firms can learn how to develop a social media policy with comprehensive steps and strategies in the newly released white paper.

Source: Shoefitts.com, September 2014

Implementing an Effective Benefits Communication Campaign

Summary: Simply defined, a communication campaign is a structured, timed rollout of important information in advance of a critical date. Not only will a campaign increase appreciation and use of the plan, a good communications campaign can help determine whether the dollars the company invests in benefit plans is a good return on investment. This 12 page paper lays out detailed steps on how to plan and produce an effective campaign.

Source: Wellsfargomedia.com , September 2014

The New Era of Fee Transparency: Making Sense of the Details

Summary: Assessing the reasonableness of fees as a result of 408(b)(2) regulations has put an increased burden on the already busy shoulders of retirement plan sponsors. Yet one of the most important fiduciary responsibilities of plan sponsors is to understand the services being provided and ensure that the fees charged to the plan are reasonable. This paper will help you build best practices for evaluating plan fees and determine whether you are striking a balance between the fees you pay and services you receive.

Source: Baml.com , September 2014

The QDIA Decision

Summary: This is a white-paper co-authored by Manning & Napier and Drinker Biddle on the importance of helping plan fiduciaries to better understand appropriate QDIA selection and best practices for their plans.

Source: Manning-napier.com (free registration may be required), September 2014

Fee Equality: Leveling the Playing Field for Participants

Summary: Employers don't usually intend to charge fees unfairly, but may be surprised to know that fees are often inadvertently structured inequitably. Fee equalization can eliminate fee imbalances across the participant base to help plan sponsors embed fundamental fairness into the plan. This paper examines the ways in which traditional fee structures create imbalances among participants and consider ways to equalize fees.

Source: Am-a.com , September 2014

How Much for the 401k? Depends

Summary: How much must 30-somethings save in their 401ks to prevent a decline in their living standard after they retire? No two people are alike, but the Center for Retirement Research estimates the typical 35 year old who hopes to retire at 65 should sock away 15 percent of his earnings, starting now.

Source: Bc.edu, September 2014

Job-Hopping Millennials Are Losing Big on Retirement Savings

Summary: One in four workers who left their job last year lost out on this valuable retirement savings. On average, they left behind $1,710 in savings, according to a recent analysis, which looked at 485,000 401k savers who left their jobs. Younger workers were by far the most frequent losers.

Source: Cnn.com, September 2014

Fewer Fortune 500 Companies Shifting DB Plans to 401k's

Summary: The retirement plan landscape is stabilizing as fewer U.S. companies last year moved from DB plans to offering only a DC plan to new salaried employees than in any other year over the past decade, according to a new analysis by Towers Watson. The analysis also found that a few industry sectors -- insurance and utilities -- are bucking the trend from DB to DC plans. More than half the companies in these sectors still offer DB and DC retirement plans to new salaried employees.

Source: Towerswatson.com, September 2014

Fed Report Finds Participation Flat, Retirement Balances Up "Substantially"

Summary: A new report from the Federal Reserve finds that while retirement plan participation remained relatively flat over the past three years, the median and average value of those retirement plan accounts rose "substantially," according to the report. Article reviews the trends noted in the report.

Source: Napa-net.org, September 2014

White Labeling DC Plan Investments May Offer Advantages

Summary: Among approximately 75 large employers, nearly one-quarter (24%) are currently using a white label approach to naming defined contribution plan investment options, Aon Hewitt finds.

Source: Planadviser.com, September 2014

Can Retirees Still Use a 4% Withdrawal Rate?

Summary: This Procedure & Checklist is meant to assist a plan fiduciary in meeting its fiduciary obligations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act with respect to missing participants of a terminated defined contribution plan.

Source: Advisorperspectives.com, September 2014

Women Showing Greater Commitment to Retirement Savings

Summary: Women have long trailed men when it comes to retirement savings but new data from MassMutual Retirement Services shows that women are responding to the challenge and are closing the gap.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, September 2014

Generation X Workers' Retirement Collision Course Can Still Be Corrected

Summary: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies released a this report, Generation X: Retirement Reality Bites Unless Answers Are Implemented, revealing the current lack of retirement preparedness among Generation X workers (born between 1965 and1978) that identifies opportunities for improving their long-term outcomes.

Source: Transamericacenter.org , August 2014

Professional Retirement Plan Advisors Have Significant Impact on Retirement Plan Performance

Summary: Transamerica Retirement Solutions released a research report highlighting the benefits of partnering with a professional retirement plan advisor. This study demonstrates that professional retirement plan advisors are central to the strategic direction, administration, and overall performance of the retirement plans they manage. The study defines professional retirement plan advisors as those who work primarily or exclusively with retirement plans.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, August 2014

Retirement Savings: A Tale of Decisions and Defaults

Summary: This paper examines the default behavior of the members of an industry-wide pension fund to assess both the prevalence of defaults and their impact on retirement accumulation using Australian pension fund. Paper shows that the default structure, which specifies individual's outcomes when no choices are made, strongly influences wealth accumulation.

Source: Ssrn.com, August 2014

Study Shows Long-Term Downward Trend of 401k Fees

Summary: Participants in 401k plans incurred lower expenses investing in long-term mutual funds (equity, hybrid, and bond funds) in 2013 than in 2012, an Investment Company Institute study has found. The decline in 401k plan fees is consistent with the downward trend of the past decade, the ICI said.

Source: Wolterskluwerlb.com, August 2014

401k Participant Survey

Summary: Findings include that, Aside from health insurance, a 401k plan is the must-have benefit and participants seek help in doing some of life's chores, but less so when it comes to choosing 401k investments.

Source: Schwab.com , August 2014

Deloitte's Annual Defined Contribution Benchmarking Survey

Summary: Plan sponsors responding to Deloitte's Annual Defined Contribution Benchmarking Survey report an encouraging six percentage point uptick in the average employee participation rate, which rose from 71 percent in 2012 to 77 percent in 2013. But figuring out how to lure the remaining quarter of employees and increase engagement levels overall continues to be a perplexing challenge. The improving economy seems to have alleviated some employee anxiety about setting aside money for the future. Report is 85 pages.

Source: Deloitte.com , August 2014*

Survey: 36 Percent Not Saving for Retirement

Summary: More than a third of adults say they have not started saving for retirement yet, according to a national poll accompanying Bankrate's monthly Financial Security Index. Even Americans who are getting close to retirement age seem to be struggling when it comes to planning their financial future. The survey shows that more than a quarter of the respondents age 50 to 64 have yet to start saving for retirement.

Source: Bankrate.com, August 2014

Millennials Emerging as "Retirement Super Savers," Transamerica Survey Finds

Summary: Millennial workers (those born between 1979 and 1996) are emerging as a generation of retirement "super savers," according to a survey conducted by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Millennial workers are focused on retirement in a big way. The research found that three out of four are already discussing saving, investing, and planning for retirement with family and friends.

Source: Wolterskluwerlb.com, August 2014

How to Overcome Behavioral Biases, Raise Retirement Savings

Summary: An overwhelming difficulty in getting workers to actively participate in their plan is the disconnect between current and future needs. Cerulli referred to a Prudential study that found investors are apathetic about saving for retirement because they see their future selves as a stranger.

Source: Thinkadvisor.com, August 2014

Canadians Say Their Savings Habits Are Poor

Summary: Many admit there's a lot of room for improvement when it comes to their savings habits and financial goals, finds a survey by Tangerine. When asked to grade their savings habits, 46% gave themselves a "C" or lower, saying they need to get back on track or haven't yet started saving this year. And 46% of people surveyed also admitted they don't have a regular savings plan set up to put aside money each month.

Source: Benefitscanada.com, August 2014

Embracing Social Media and Mobile Technology in 401k Communications

Summary: The participation in social media and the use of mobile technology among 401k plan participants has increased exponentially. Although traditional benefits communication vehicles have not yet become obsolete, plan sponsors need to take a multichannel approach to benefit communications by factoring in social media and mobile technologies. Article provides some insight.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, August 2014

In-Plan Retirement Income Solutions: Landscape Overview and Obstacles to Adoption

Summary: Paper discuss the dilemmas participants face as they prepare for retirement, especially in light of the void left by the diminished role of defined benefit plans. Then lays out the benefits, to both participants and plan sponsors, of an in-plan retirement income solution and discusses the significant barriers plan sponsors face in implementing such solutions, including an analysis of the most significant barrier -- the lack of clear regulatory guidance.

Source: Porteval.com , August 2014

Data Show Americans' Continued Commitment to Saving

Summary: ICI's latest study of retirement plan savers' actions, based on defined contribution plan recordkeeper data covering nearly 24 million employer-based DC plan participant accounts, shows Americans' continuing commitment to putting away money for retirement.

Source: Ici.org, August 2014

Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2013

Summary: Many households in the United States have been tested by the Great Recession. Large-scale financial strain at the household level ultimately fed into broader economic challenges for the country, and the completion of the national recovery will ultimately be, in part, a reflection of the well-being of households and consumers. To better understand the financial state of U.S. households, the Federal Reserve Board conducted a new consumer survey, the results of which are described in this report.

Source: Federalreserve.gov , August 2014

31% of Americans Have No Retirement Savings At All

Summary: Nearly a third, or 31% of U.S. adults said they had no savings or pension to help them afford retirement, according to the Federal Reserve Board. Even more alarming: 19% of those very close to retirement age, between the ages of 55 and 64, said they had no savings. As a result, more than half of these respondents said they planned to either work full-time or part-time during their retirement years.

Source: Cnn.com, August 2014

Pushing the Employee-Savings Envelope With Auto-Escalation

Summary: While the concept of automatically escalating 401k paycheck deductions annually may sound unappetizing to some HR leaders because of the added costs they can incur, the results of a recent survey indicate employees may be ready to dig in.

Source: Hreonline.com, August 2014

The "Gotchas" of Retirement Services Purchasing

Summary: The information gap that has existed between retirement services vendors and retirement plan sponsors has created fertile ground for "gotchas" in vendor service arrangements that continue to waste millions of dollars of retirement plan savings annually. This article explores the most common gotchas plan sponsors face and offers real-world solutions for those organizations seeking to improve their fiduciary supply chain management approach.

Source: Rolandcriss.com , August 2014

Benefits Strategy and Benchmarking Survey Data Released

Summary: Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey reveals that employers continue to see rising benefit costs in 2014. The survey examines how organizations are responding to healthcare reform and rising costs, as well as their approach to private exchanges, wellness and retirement programs, and other benefit trends and opportunities.

Source: Todaysfacilitymanager.com, August 2014

Report Finds Room for Improvement in Managed Accounts

Summary: Financial advisors and retirement plan sponsors abuzz about the increase in managed accounts, available to many 401k investors, may do well to tone down their excitement in the wake of a Government Accountability Office report that finds much room for improvement in how the accounts are structured.

Source: Insurancenewsnet.com, August 2014

Process for Terminating Investment Managers Is Important

Summary: While much time is spent selecting investment managers, not nearly enough time is spent in establishing a processing for terminating such managers, says a recent paper from the Strategic Investment Group.

Source: Planadviser.com, August 2014

Solving Technology Challenges With IT Outsourcing for Retirement Administrators

Summary: IT outsourcing can provide them with the opportunity to take advantage of advanced, modern recordkeeping applications within a high-performance IT infrastructure while outsourcing the implementation and maintenance of these systems. At the same time, providers can leverage global data centers to host their software and IT systems in a secure, compliant, and accessible environment while controlling everyday recordkeeping operations. Some of the benefits of IT outsourcing are reviewed here.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, August 2014

Transatlantic DC Participant Survey 2014

Summary: While the regulatory environment governing retirement plans can vary greatly among different countries, plan sponsors in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States often face similar challenges. Regardless of geography, almost all plan sponsors have an opportunity to do more. This survey shows that plan sponsors can improve retirement readiness by helping participants increase their savings, providing more financial education to workers and retirees, and designing retirement vehicles that are easy to understand and access.

Source: Ssga.com , August 2014

PPA Document Restatement Fees Survey Result

Summary: A total of 57 TPA business owners or managers responded to this survey, conducted online from late June through mid-July. Nearly half of all respondent firms report serving >500 plans; the average was 650. Article reviews the survey results.

Source: Tparesources.com, August 2014

DC Plans Work When Backed by Social Security

Summary: A new study of brand-new retirees with such plans finds they are, indeed, faring well, but only thanks to an additional big lift from Social Security income and a willingness to economize.

Source: Onwallstreet.com, August 2014

What Does Consistent Participation in 401k Plans Generate?

Summary: At year-end 2012, the average account balance among consistent participants was 67 percent higher than the average account balance among all participants in the EBRI/ICI 401k database. The consistent group's median balance was almost three times the median balance across all participants at year-end 2012.

Source: Ebri.org , August 2014

Why Are Target-Date Funds so Popular with Plan Participants?

Summary: The short answer to this question is, because their employers have chosen TDFs on their behalf. Or more precisely, advisors choose TDFs because employers rely on their advisors for this decision. Most assets are there by default. They belong to participants who can't or won't make an investment election. So why do financial advisors like them?

Source: Paladinregistry.com, July 2014

Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefits: Considerations for Plan Sponsors

Summary: This article demonstrates that fiduciary standards applicable to offering GLWB products are no different than the standards applied to fiduciaries relative to the selections of any other investment or guaranteed lifetime income option. Using this roadmap in conjunction with other available guidance, plan fiduciaries should feel confident in their ability to construct a prudent process, consistent with their legal obligations, for evaluating, selecting, and administering GLWBs.

Source: Iricouncil.org , July 2014

Why Hire an Unbundled Service Provider?

Summary: The perceived disadvantages of "unbundling" recordkeeping and administrative services generally fall into two areas: 1) the belief that adding more parties adds more cost, and 2) the belief that adding more parties adds more complexities for the employer. Article examines these perceptions and then considers the added benefits of an unbundled arrangement.

Source: Consultrms.com, July 2014

Global Uncertainty Fuels Workers' Desire for Retirement Security

Summary: Retirement security has taken on heightened importance for employees across the globe, with workers in all countries recognizing the need to save more, both generally and specifically for retirement. In many countries, employees seem uncomfortable with the greater risks they bear as a result of the shift to DC plans only and less generous DB plans. While workers might not understand the actuarial costs of retirement guarantees, rising demand for more secure benefits suggests they recognize their value.

Source: Towerswatson.com, July 2014

How Much Should People Save for Retirement?

Summary: The National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) shows that half of today's working families are "at risk" of not being able to maintain their standard of living once they retire. This result is not surprising given that half of private sector workers do not have an employer-sponsored retirement plan and that many who do have a plan save relatively little. The question is how much households would have to save in order to maintain their pre-retirement living standards.

Source: Crr.bc.edu , July 2014

Women, Low Earners Least Likely to Embrace Full Employer Match

Summary: A new survey by TIAA-CREF shows that 78 percent of Americans who contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan receive matching contributions from their employer, and 77 percent of those who have matching contributions save enough to receive the full employer match. However, only 72 percent of women contribute enough to receive the full employer match, compared with 82 percent of men, and only 64 percent of those earning less than $35,000 a year receive the full match.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2014

TIAA-CREF Perfect Match Survey: Executive Summary

Summary: Six page summary of TIAA-CREF's Perfect Match Survey, which was conducted among a sample of 1,000 adults currently contributing to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Survey finds that many employees are leaving free money on the table if they don't make the most of savings match programs.

Source: Tiaa-cref.org , July 2014

401k Plans Bring Retirement Readiness Within Reach

Summary: Americans who have access to 401k plans can help to achieve a more secure retirement if they start early and save consistently over the course of their career, according to new research sponsored by Prudential.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2014

Lump Sum Distributions From Pension Plans: Recent Evidence and Issues for Policy and Research

Summary: Examines preretirement lump sum distributions from pension plans, which have grown significantly in recent years. Most LSD recipients do not roll over the funds into qualified accounts, but the likelihood of rollover rises for larger distributions. This paper considers the role of one aspect of pension policy -- the tax treatment of lump sum distributions that are taken from pension balances before a worker reaches retirement age.

Source: Ssrn.com, July 2014

NAGDCA Report on Target-Date Funds

Summary: This 17 page publication reviews the current state of TDFs, pointing out trends in usage and changes in the types of funds available. It also suggest some tools that can help plan sponsors in evaluating the characteristics of TDFs and some tips on selecting an appropriate fund series for your specific plan.

Source: Nagdca.org , July 2014

Measuring Employee Savings and Investing Behavior in DC Plans

Summary: This Aon Hewitt research report analyzes the participant behavior of more than 3.5 million employees eligible for defined contribution plans offered by their employers. The data can be used to provide a comprehensive view of the defined contribution universe including participation rates, savings levels, plan balances, investment actions and account activity. This is a nine page highlight report.

Source: Aon.com , July 2014

The Largest 401k Plan 'Leakage' Culprit: Job Change Cashouts

Summary: In general, plan cashouts at job change have a much more serious impact on retirement savings than either plan loan defaults or hardship withdrawals, even taking into account the impact of a six-month suspension of contributions that generally accompanies those hardship withdrawals, according to new analysis by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Source: Ebri.org , July 2014

Stock Market's Rise Lifts Retirement Balances to a New Record High

Summary: The recent record markets have resulted in increased retirement savings for millions of Americans according to a second quarter 2014 Fidelity analysis of its 401k and IRA accounts.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2014

Retirement Plan Participants in Favor of Automatic Annual Increase

Summary: Survey respondents ranked several financial priorities that compete with their retirement account contributions including: paying off debt (29 percent), day-to-day expenses (23 percent), taking care of family (11 percent) and saving for college (4 percent) among others. But 55% said they would favor automatic annual increases to their contributions.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2014

Pre-Retiree Study Shows Today's Priorities Trump Future Retirement Plans

Summary: The study, which consisted of responses from 1,619 full-time employed individuals between the ages of 25 and 65 who have been participating in their employer-sponsored retirement plan, looked at why participants delay saving for retirement and how those barriers can be overcome.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2014

Transamerica Releases Study on Savings Habits of American Millennials

Summary: The nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies released a new report and fact sheet revealing the retirement savings habits of American Millennial workers (born between 1979 and 1996) from its 15th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, one of the largest and longest-running national surveys of its kind.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2014

Millennial Workers: An Emerging Generation of Super Savers

Summary: Millennial workers are an emerging generation of retirement super savers. Unlike their parents' generation, most expect their primary source of income in retirement to be self-funded through retirement accounts or other savings and investments. The good news is that they are getting an early start with their savings and are taking advantage of the latest innovations that their employer-sponsored retirement plans have to offer. Employers should take note: Two-thirds of Millennials say they would be likely to switch companies for a similar job if it comes with better retirement benefits.

Source: Transamericacenter.org , July 2014

Peeling Back the Fiduciary Layers and Unscrambling the Fiduciary Confusion

Summary: In seeking clarity about the "type" of 401k professional it has retained, plan sponsors often find the answers they are given to be incoherent with a slant in favor of the 401k industry instead of plan participants. The residual fuzziness plan sponsors are left feeling about this topic is a source of significant irritation to them. This comprehensive article attempts to peel back the fiduciary layers and unscrambling the fiduciary fuzziness.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2014

The Perils of a Non-ERISA 403(b) Plan

Summary: Non-ERISA 403(b) plans seem to be dropping in popularity among non-profit organizations. Given regulatory guidelines that can be difficult to follow, many plan sponsors are finding it harder to maintain a fully compliant non-ERISA plan. This article offers tips to help plan sponsors change their non-ERISA 403(b) plan to an ERISA plan and reviews compliance issues you need to consider to make this change.

Source: Strategicbenefitservices.com, July 2014

Infographic: Breakdown of Small Plan 401k Fees

Summary: Here is a great Infographic from the 401k Averages Book offering a breakdown of small 401k retirement plan fees.

Source: 401kfeedisclosure.com, July 2014

New Analysis of 401k Plan Performance and Fees

Summary: In the paper "Beyond Diversification: The Pervasive Problem of Excessive Fees and 'Dominated Funds' in 401k Plans," by Professors Ayres and Curtis, the authors conclude that 401k plan participants suffer significant losses from (1) sponsor-fiduciary fund menu construction decisions, (2) participant asset allocation mistakes and (3) high fees on plan investment options. This article we review their paper in detail.

Source: Octoberthree.com, July 2014

Essentials of Target-Date Design and Analysis

Summary: This white paper provides a summary and analysis of essential factors that should be considered regarding target-date design and analysis, including: Risk in the target-date fund space; Active versus passive manager selection; and, Closed versus open-architecture approaches.

Source: Americancentury.com , July 2014

Designing a 'Best Practices' Participant Directed Retirement Plan Investment Menu

Summary: Designing an industry "best practices" investment menu for a participant directed retirement plan requires a lot more thought than merely filling the Morningstar style boxes and calling it a day. Experience has shown that participants often frustrate the best intentioned expert who tries to build these investment line-ups. Understanding Behavioral Finance is key to overcoming many of the obstacles participants have when interacting with their plan's investment menu.

Source: Francisinvco.com, July 2014

Canadians Now Invest 14% of Their Income

Summary: Rising stock markets are boosting investor confidence and leading Canadians to increase the share of income they invest, according to the latest TD Investor Insights Index. The annual survey finds that more than half of Canadian investors saw their investments improve over the past 12 months, and nearly as many expect continued gains in the year ahead.

Source: Benefitscanada.com, July 2014

Managing Financial Risk in Retirement and Benefits Programs

Summary: This 2014 survey focuses on finance executives' increasing interest in pension de-risking strategies, explores the different options that companies are considering to enhance defined contribution plans, and reflects on how to achieve a better balance between retirement benefits and other employee benefit offerings. Twenty pages.

Source: Prudential.com , July 2014

Worldwide Mutual Fund Assets Top $30 Trillion

Summary: Mutual fund assets worldwide increased 2.7 percent to $30.84 trillion, an all-time high, at the end of the first quarter of 2014. The Investment Company Institute compiles worldwide statistics on behalf of the International Investment Funds Association, an organization of national mutual fund associations. The collection for the first quarter of 2014 contains statistics from 45 countries.

Source: Ici.org, July 2014

Financial Knowledge and 401k Investment Performance

Summary: Financial knowledge is critical to ones retirement security, finds a new study showing that 401k plan participants who scored higher on a test of their financial knowledge earned an additional 1.3 percentage points of investment returns annually on their retirement accounts.

Source: Nber.org, July 2014

Cash Balance Retirement Plans Grow 22% While 401k Market Remains Flat

Summary: Kravitz released the 2014 National Cash Balance Research Report, showing a 22% increase in new plans for the most recent year. The number of new Cash Balance Plans continues to grow faster than all other sectors of the retirement plan market, including 401k plans, which increased just 1% despite continuing economic recovery.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2014

 


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