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Insights: Research and White Papers

DOL's Retirement Advice Rule: Helping or Harming Sound Retirement Planning?

Summary: This 15-page white paper suggests the recently re-proposed DOL fiduciary rule, meant to protect the retirement savings of individuals, may well have the opposite effect. The DOL rule should be more fully analyzed and adjustments made to ensure the rule does not have an adverse impact on retirement plan access and investment education.

Source: Accf.org , November 2015

2015 Wells Fargo Retirement Study

Summary: On behalf of Wells Fargo, Harris Poll conducted 1,251 telephone interviews of 851 working Americans 40 or older and 400 retired Americans, surveying attitudes and behaviors around planning, saving and investing for retirement. This eight-page document reviews the key findings.

Source: Wellsfargomedia.com , November 2015

Expanding Access to Retirement Savings for Small Business

Summary: In this 11-page paper, Blackrock reviews key federal retirement initiatives and several of the state proposals around expanding access to retirement savings for small business. They offer suggestions on how Congress and the DOL can eliminate unnecessary obstacles to small employers face and caution on the potential for creating regulatory arbitrage that may result in reduced retirement savings.

Source: Blackrock.com , November 2015

Who Benefits From the U.S. Retirement System

Summary: This 40-page paper is a summary of Peter Brady's forthcoming book, "Who Benefits from the U.S. Retirement System," to be published in January 2016.

Source: Ici.org , November 2015

Helping Employees Get on the Right Retirement Track

Summary: Many things get in the way of people saving enough for retirement. Buying a home. Student loans. Getting married. Having kids. All of these competing priorities make it difficult to set money aside for something that seems light years away. A new study by the Think Tank at Financial Finesse found that employers can do more when it comes to helping employees prepare for retirement.

Source: Benefitnews.com, November 2015

Who "Owns" Responsibility for Retirement Readiness?

Summary: A new survey finds that most workers strongly disagree with the statement, "My employer is responsible for providing for my retirement." That finding comes despite the reality that, for the second year in a row, Americans feel less confident about their financial situation. As for getting some professional help, 32% "see value" in paying for professional advice.

Source: Napa-net.org, November 2015

Generation Lost: Engaging Millennials With Retirement Saving

Summary: Millennials face considerably greater challenges than their parents when it comes to providing for their retirement. But this group, which comprises those born between 1980 and the turn of the millennium, are not being told about the scale of the savings mountain they must climb. Twenty-four pages.

Source: Bnymellon.com , November 2015

Millennials Are Investing at a Younger Age Compared With Earlier Generations

Summary: Nearly one-third of Millennial households owned mutual funds in mid-2015 according to an annual survey of U.S. households by the Investment Company Institute. Though the share of Millennial households that own funds is smaller than that of older generations, these Millennials started investing at a younger age than previous generations.

Source: Ici.org, November 2015

Men Save More -- Women Save Better

Summary: Men averaged $123,262 in their defined contribution plans, compared with $79,572 for women, according to a new report by Vanguard based on its 2014 recordkeeping data. But these figures hide a larger truth: women are actually better at saving for retirement.

Source: Bc.edu, November 2015

Passive Management and the False Premise of Fiduciary Relief

Summary: Defined contribution retirement plan fiduciaries have become increasingly interested in greater utilization of passive management. The decision to move to a purely passive approach seems to be based on two dubious premises, namely, that 1) it is safer for fiduciaries to offer funds that have the lowest absolute cost and little risk of underperforming a stated benchmark, and 2) fiduciary oversight obligations are nearly eliminated. This paper particularly examines the second premise.

Source: Russell.com , November 2015

Retirement Analysis: Account Balances Decline, but Present Opportunity for Roth Conversion

Summary: Fidelity Investments released its third quarter 401k and Individual Retirement Account savings analysis. The analysis reveals three key facts from last quarters stock market volatility.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, November 2015

What Vanguard's New Report Does Not Say About 401k Plans

Summary: Vanguard has released a short paper, "Women versus men in DC plans." Author writes, "The study confirmed some prior beliefs, and learned a couple of new things along the way. But I found the story that Vanguard chose not to tell to be more compelling. Three of the article's ancillary figures were striking."

Source: Morningstar.com, November 2015

Women Versus Men in DC Plans

Summary: A topical question today is whether men and women save and invest differently in retirement saving plans. Are women and men really different when it comes to retirement plan savings? What drives the sizable difference in 401k wealth accumulations between men and women? These are the questions explored in this 12-page paper.

Source: Vanguard.com , October 2015

The 2015 Retirement Plan Adviser Survey

Summary: Arguably, retirement plan advisers have a better perspective than their plan sponsor clients about the relative strength of products and services offered by investment and recordkeeping providers. The 2015 Retirement Plan Adviser Survey endeavors to gain insight from the adviser community about how providers and funds are selected, and which are the favorites each year.

Source: Planadviser.com, October 2015

Octogenarians Define a Successful Retirement

Summary: What does a successful and happy retirement look like? A recent survey of 500 retired octogenarians provides a snapshot of what an average, successful retirement looks like, with some lessons learned.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2015

Do Health Insurance Costs Squeeze 401ks?

Summary: Six in 10 workers agreed that rising cost of their health insurance directly affects how much they set aside in their retirement savings plan at work, according to a new survey.

Source: Bc.edu, October 2015

Long-Term Retirement Goals Lose Out to Short-Term Financial Pressures

Summary: American workers say the biggest risk to their retirement security is failing to save enough money. Yet 60 percent set aside less than 7.5 percent of their income for retirement and nearly four in 10 have tapped into their retirement accounts, largely to meet other financial goals, according to a survey released by Natixis.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2015

The Real Cost of Fees

Summary: Based on the findings in this 23-page report, there is a wide range in the cost of fees associated with investment accounts, yet even the lowest average cost represents hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost savings. If the capital currently lost to fees remained invested, retirement savings could increase by an equally significant amount.

Source: Personalcapital.com , October 2015

Study Quantifies the Value Advisors Bring to 403(b) Participants

Summary: Plan participants who use an advisor can benefit from the experience both financially and emotionally, according to a new 16-page study of 403(b) plan participants by AXA.

Source: Axa.com , October 2015

A Few Years Makes a Tremendous Difference in Retirement Savings -- Study

Summary: While only a few years separate working Americans ages 55-59 from those in their 60s, there are sharp differences in the savings they have amassed and steps they have taken to prepare for retirement. That's one finding of Wells Fargo & Company's annual Retirement Study. Study shows what a tremendous difference a few years can make when it comes to retirement savings.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2015

2015 Trends and Experience in DC Plans Survey

Summary: With a vested interest in helping workers accumulate sufficient retirement savings, employers have been busy bolstering their DC plan provisions and investment offerings. This report finds that DC plans are changing in rapid ways as employers undertake rigorous reviews to promote more participation, encourage greater savings, and improve investment funds.

Source: Aon.com, October 2015

Avoiding ERISA's Number One Fiduciary Liability Gotcha

Summary: No one knows for sure what changes will result in questions involving ERISA fiduciary liability once the DOL issues its new fiduciary standards. However, this white paper point out that it's relatively easy and inexpensive for plan sponsors and other ERISA fiduciaries to conduct meaningful independent analyses of potential investment options and, in so doing, protecting both plan participants, their beneficiaries, and the plan's fiduciaries.

Source: Iainsight.wordpress.com, October 2015

Most 401k Investors Want Fiduciary Advisers

Summary: Almost nine out of 10 retirement investors said it's very important (69 percent) or somewhat important (18 percent) to work with a financial adviser who is legally required to take on fiduciary responsibility, according to a recent survey report.

Source: Bna.com, October 2015

Employers Taking Action to Help Workers Close the Retirement Savings Gap

Summary: With only one-in-five workers on track to retire at age 65, a new survey from Aon Hewitt reveals U.S. employers are taking steps to help workers save more and improve their long-term financial outlook.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2015

401k Participants Want Advisor Who Acts in Their Best Interests

Summary: According to a new survey of over 1,000 401k participants by Financial Engines, what employees want next is a person in their corner. The survey shows that a majority of 401k investors not currently working with a financial advisor are interested in working with a financial advisor in the future.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2015

The Auto Savings Generation: Steering Millennials to Better Retirement Outcomes

Summary: Automatic enrollment and the rise of target-date funds are reshaping retirement plan outcomes for all generations. However, these innovations are having the greatest impact on millennials' retirement savings. This 16-page paper highlights some of the generational differences as a result of these changes.

Source: Vanguard.com , October 2015

Robo-Advisors: A Closer Look

Summary: Robo-advisors have been touted by the DOL as a source of investment advice that can benefit retirement investors by minimizing costs and avoiding conflicts of interest. This paper examines whether robo-advisors in fact provide personal investment advice, minimize costs, and are free from conflicts of interest. Based on a detailed review of user agreements for three leading robo-advisors, this paper concludes that robo-advisors do not live up to the DOL's acclaim.

Source: Ssrn.com, October 2015

2015 DC Plan and Fee Survey: What a Difference a Decade Makes

Summary: NEPC's Defined Contribution practice group conducts an annual defined contribution plan and fee survey to help plan sponsors understand the fees, pricing, and structure of their defined contribution plans. This 2015 survey includes data from 116 plans, encompassing over 1.4 million plan participants.

Source: Nepc.com, October 2015

Recordkeeping Costs Hit All-Time Lows

Summary: The cost of sponsoring a 401k plan dropped again in 2015, as more sponsors are paying a fixed-dollar cost for recordkeeping services, according to NEPC's most recent breakdown of defined contribution plan costs.

Source: Benefitspro.com, October 2015

Using Behavioral Finance to Shape Participant Investment Decisions

Summary: The field of behavioral finance is not new, but employing its core tenets is gaining favor among investors, advisors, and plan sponsors who recognize its value in influencing sound financial decisions. Plan sponsors can help retirement plan participants take steps to improve their likelihood of a comfortable retirement by designing plans that not only make it easy to save for retirement, but help them avoid costly behavioral errors.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2015

Small Plan Participants Are Missing Out on Fund Options

Summary: Guardian released new findings from its comprehensive national survey revealing that small plan participants are missing out on available investment options in their 401ks compared to their larger counterparts.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, October 2015

Sponsors Demanding Much More From Plan Advisors

Summary: Fidelity's sixth annual Plan Sponsor Attitudes survey reveals that more sponsors are actively looking to fire incumbent plan advisors than ever before. Why the shift in sponsor thinking? Plan sponsor focus is moving to preparing participants for retirement, from a focus on fees and fiduciary compliance.

Source: Benefitspro.com, October 2015

Are 401k Investment Menus Set Solely for Plan Participants?

Summary: This seven page Center for Retirement Research study found that additions and deletions from the 401k plan investment lineup favor the fund company's own family of funds which adversely affected the retirement income security of participants.

Source: Bc.edu , October 2015

Risk of Excessive Fee Litigation Can Be Mitigated

Summary: Excessive fees continue to be a hot topic for retirement plan committees to address. Outside of the committee’s documentation, the statute of limitation provides another method built into ERISA that is often forgotten, but which is very effective in mitigating litigation risk for a claim of excessive fees.

Source: Asppa.org , September 2015

Retirement Plan Investors Abandoning Asset-Class Preference

Summary: This paper highlights investment trends over the most recent two-year period. The analysis focuses on the underlying trends asset allocation that have evolved during the first half of 2013 through the first half of 2015. Paper reveals that there are common threads across all investor groups. The analysis examines four investor groups: DB plans, DC plans, retail investors, and HNW investors.

Source: Principalglobal.com , September 2015

Many Would Put Off Retirements to Help Pay for Kids College

Summary: Nearly one-third of Americans would be willing to defer their retirements to help their children or grandchildren pay for college educations, according to new LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute research.

Source: Limra.com, September 2015

The RFP Process...Checks and Balances

Summary: The focus of this paper is to provide an outline of best practices a Plan Sponsor can utilize to undertake a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for 457(b), 401(a), 403(b), grandfathered 401k. The information outlined in this document will apply to Plan Sponsors of all sizes.

Source: Nagdca.org , September 2015

How Has Shift to Defined Contribution Plans Affected Saving?

Summary: Many believe that people are saving less for retirement due to the shift from DB to DC plans. Study results show that the percentage of total salaries going to retirement saving has declined slightly during this period, but if returns on asset accumulations are included, the annual change in pension wealth is relatively steady, so the shift to DC plans has not led to less total saving.

Source: Bc.edu , September 2015

Lesser Known Differences between 403(b) and 401k Plans

Summary: The rules for 403(b) and 401k plans have become more similar, but a number of important differences remain. This article describes some of the less well known differences.

Source: Aon.com , September 2015

Student Loans Hindering Millennials' Retirement Savings

Summary: Student loan debt is putting Millennials in a bind when it comes to retirement savings. One-third of Millennials say student loan debt has either delayed them from saving or kept them from saving as much as they would like.

Source: Planadviser.com, September 2015

Australians Less Confident About Retirement Than Americans

Summary: Despite having higher investable assets and considerably higher contribution rates than Americans, a State Street survey finds Australians have notably lower confidence in their ability to meet retirement goals than their American counterparts.

Source: Benefitscanada.com, September 2015

How Do Inheritances Affect the National Retirement Risk Index?

Summary: The question is the extent to which considering inheritances changes the retirement picture for individuals. This paper uses the National Retirement Risk Index, which is based on the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances, plus additional questions from the SCF about inheritances to explore the extent to which inheritance receipts reduce the percentage of households "at risk."

Source: Prudential.com , September 2015

Participant Distribution Decisions Have Implications for Plan Design

Summary: A Vanguard update to its analysis of older retirement plan participants' distribution behavior has implications for the design of target-date funds and retirement income programs.

Source: Plansponsor.com, September 2015

Research Finds Link Between Inheritances and Retirement Preparedness

Summary: New research showed although inheritances do not have a significant impact on the overall retirement picture, they may help to improve retirement preparedness at the individual household level.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, September 2015

Workforce Experience Linked to Benefits Communications Enhancements

Summary: Employees entering the workforce and those near retirement need tailored communications to optimize workplace benefits, according to Guardian study. While all employees find tailored benefits communications and support valuable, six in ten say that their benefits meetings would be more relevant if they were targeted by age.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, September 2015

What Does Consistent Participation in 401k Plans Generate?

Summary: Analysis of a consistent group of 401k participants highlights the impact of ongoing participation in 401k plans. At year-end 2013, the average account balance among consistent participants was more than twice the average account balance among all participants in the EBRI/ICI 401k database. The consistent group's median balance was more than four times the median balance across all participants at year-end 2013.

Source: Ici.org , September 2015

2015 Gender Gap in Financial Wellness Report

Summary: Report examined the gender gap as it relates to the current shortfall in retirement savings. Using an example of a median 45-year-old man and woman, the report looks at median incomes, deferral rates, retirement savings, life expectancies, and projected healthcare costs to determine how much each would need to save in order to replace 70 percent of their income in retirement. The report found a 26 percent gap in the savings shortfall and further, a purchasing power gap of 95 percent between men and women in terms of extra dollars needed to fund retirement expenses.

Source: Financialfinesse.com , September 2015

Stacking Up: Who Offers the Best Retirement Plans?

Summary: Benefits packages seem to be improving across the board. But are certain industries more focused on winning the benefits game, and if so, why?

Source: Plansponsor.com, September 2015

The Future of the Recordkeeping Industry

Summary: In 2014, thirteen merger/acquisition deals were made among retirement plan recordkeepers, a record number of consolidations and ownership changes. This trend is predicted to continue. This paper examines the future of the recordkeeping industry and how plan sponsors can use that knowledge to be prepared.

Source: Arnerich Massena (registration may be required), September 2015

Retirement Distribution Decisions Among DC Participants

Summary: This paper, an update to Vanguard's December 2013 analysis of retirement-age DC plan participant distribution decisions, extends their analysis through the end of 2014 -- now encompassing ten years of participant behavior. To better understand the decisions made by participants at retirement, this paper examines decisions made by participants age 60 and older who separated from service with their employer.

Source: Vanguard.com , September 2015

RIA M&A Picking up Steam

Summary: A new industry report finds upticks in both the number and average deal size of merger and acquisition activity among registered investment advisor firms.

Source: Napa-net.org, September 2015

Clearer Regulations Could Help 401k Plan Sponsors Choose Investments for Participants

Summary: DOL created a regulatory "safe harbor" in 2007 to limit plan sponsor liability for investing contributions on behalf of employees. In addition, the DOL identified three default investments that would qualify a plan for safe harbor protection. This GAO report examines: (1) which options plan sponsors selected as default investments and why; (2) how plan sponsors monitor their default investment selections; and (3) what challenges, if any, plan sponsors report facing when adopting a default investment for their plan.

Source: Gao.gov, September 2015

People Prioritize Wealth Over Health, but Retirement Savings Hurdles Remain

Summary: A new survey illustrates the vital role of 401k plans in helping workers save for retirement, but also identifies obstacles to saving effectively and a strong desire among participants for professional help in choosing the right investments. There is also widespread belief that retirement should be a major issue discussed by the presidential candidates in the upcoming debates.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, August 2015

Employees "Put Off" by Complexity of Asset Allocation Choices

Summary: A report by James Choi of the Yale School of Management and the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at how individuals make decisions in their workplace-sponsored defined contribution plans to gauge how they make economic decisions in general. Findings include employees being put off by the complexity of the asset allocation choice they must make in order to opt into the plan.

Source: Benefitnews.com, August 2015

DB, DC Plans: Looking Beyond a Simple Comparison

Summary: A new study of DB and DC plans goes a little farther than just comparing them, suggesting that the best approach may be to move past the debate over which one is better.

Source: Asppa.org, August 2015

Top 20 Industries With Best 401k Plans

Summary: Who takes the top spot in 401(k) offerings and participation? Who needs help getting up to speed? BrightScope released its list of the industries that rank highest.

Source: 401kspecialistmag.com, August 2015

The Economics of Providing 401k Plans: Services, Fees, and Expenses

Summary: This 32 page report concludes that the downward trend in the expense ratios that 401k plan participants incur for investing in mutual funds continued in 2014. The average expense ratio that 401k plan participants incurred for investing in equity mutual funds fell from 0.58 percent in 2013 to 0.54 percent in 2014.

Source: Ici.org, August 2015

401k Fees Continue to Drop

Summary: 401k participants paid an average expense ratio of 0.54% of assets for equity mutual funds in 2014, continuing a long-term downward slide, down 30% from 0.77% in 2000, according to a new Investment Company Institute report.

Source: Forbes.com, August 2015

Most Americans Not Saving More for Retirement

Summary: Just 19% of working Americans are saving more for retirement now than they were one year ago, according to a new Bankrate.com report. Fourteen percent are saving less and 55% are saving about the same amount.

Source: Bankrate.com, August 2015

Contributions to Defined Contribution Pension Plans

Summary: Because individuals often have substantial discretion over how much is contributed to their DC plans, studying DC contribution choices provides general insights into the determinants of individual economic decision-making. Paper provides an overview of the effect of matching contributions, automatic enrollment, active choice deadlines, choice overload, financial literacy, peer effects, mental accounting, and personal experience on individuals' DC contributions.

Source: Nber.org, August 2015

Data Shows Retirement Plan Participants' Commitment to Saving

Summary: ICI's latest study of retirement plan savers' actions shows Americans' continuing commitment to saving for retirement. The study is based on defined contribution plan recordkeeper data covering more than 26 million participant accounts at employer-based DC plans.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, August 2015

Retirement Optimism Cited in Survey of African Americans

Summary: African Americans demonstrate continued optimism when it comes to finances, due to growing affluence, Prudential Financial found in its biannual "African American Financial Experience" report. However, many are not taking advantage of financial and investment tools, which may hinder long-term wealth accumulation.

Source: Plansponsor.com, August 2015

Money Market Reforms Are Coming: Is Your Plan Ready?

Summary: Following the financial crisis of 2008, when heavy redemptions broke the buck in money market funds, the SEC is planning changes for how those funds operate. The new rules will impact more than $375 billion of retirement assets, or nearly 64 percent of all defined contribution plans in America.

Source: Lockton.com , August 2015

Small-Business DC Plan Benchmarking Report

Summary: This 28 page benchmarking report is designed to help small-business DC plan sponsors understand how their plans compare with other small-business plans. Information can help small-businesses make more effective plan decisions and serve as a valuable reference tool.

Source: Vanguard.com , August 2015

Navigating Change in the 401k Market

Summary: This 10 page research paper examines several behavioral and attitudinal aspects of 401k plan sponsors that are likely to impact the defined contribution industry over the next several years. Data are based on the opinions of a representative sample of 401k plan sponsors responsible for plans ranging from less than $1 million to over $1 billion in DC assets.

Source: Marketstrategies.com , August 2015

Behavior Trends in 401k Plans

Summary: Analyzing plans on the Ascensus platform, the data assessed key information among 401k plan sponsors and employees. Ascensus identified a number of trends from this data.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, August 2015

New Research Provides Analysis of Roth IRA Investors

Summary: The report, "The IRA Investor Profile: Roth IRA Investors' Activity, 2007-2013," provides analysis of contribution, conversion, rollover, withdrawal, and asset allocation activity among Roth IRA investors, based on data for 5.2 million Roth IRA owners at year-end 2013.

Source: Ici.org, August 2015

Workers Rely on 401k Providers for Retirement Advice: Cerulli

Summary: A 401k provider is most often the primary source for retirement advice among retirement plan participants, according to recent data from Cerulli Associates. Only 15% of retirement plan participants under 30 rely on an advisor or planner. Cerulli finds that 17% of the respondents indicate relying on no source for advice at all.

Source: Thinkadvisor.com, July 2015

Legal Considerations When Engaging an Investment Professional for a Participant-Directed DC Plan

Summary: Considering the potential liability that fiduciaries of ERISA plans face with respect to plan investments, it makes sense to structure a participant-directed defined contribution plan in accordance with Section 404(c) of ERISA. However, given that the legal status of the service provider under ERISA creates stark differences in the retained duties and liabilities of the plan fiduciaries, fiduciaries need to understand the provider's status and which scenario applies to their specific arrangement.

Source: Bklawyers.com , July 2015

Infographic: A Framework for Designing Your DC Investment Menu

Summary: With employees running the gamut from unengaged to motivated self-starters, employers face a challenge: How to assemble a core menu of investment options to serve all of their employees?

Source: Fidelity.com , July 2015

Analysis: Impact of the DOL's Fiduciary Proposal on Participant Investment Advice

Summary: The proposal will have a significant impact on broker-dealers. It will be difficult for advisors to avoid fiduciary status when assisting participants with investment decisions. Where broker-dealers receive variable/indirect compensation on the basis of advisor recommendations, all of the available PT exemptions are highly nuanced and challenging to satisfy. Otherwise, broker-dealers will need to re-examine their advisors' practices carefully to ensure that they are providing only investment education, or develop other strategies to avoid PTs.

Source: Drinkerbiddle.com, July 2015

Using Behavioral Finance to Shape Financial Planning

Summary: The field of behavioral finance is not new, but employing its core tenets is gaining favor among investors, advisors, and plan sponsors who recognize its value in influencing sound financial decisions. Paper explores these behaviors.

Source: Belr.com , July 2015

Proof That Americans Are Delaying Retirement

Summary: Think you'll retire at 65? The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies' 16th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey has found otherwise. The survey found that most workers in their 60s have dropped the American dream of fully retiring at age 65. A full 82% expect to work or are working past 65, or don't plan to retire at all.

Source: Wallstreetdaily.com, July 2015

Money Market Reform: An Update for DC Plans

Summary: Last year, the SEC approved amendments to Rule 2a-7 of the Investment Company Act of 1940 which governs U.S. money market funds. Plan sponsors should revisit the objectives and risk tolerance for their money market vehicles, especially those invested in prime money market funds which are most affected by the new amendments. This article provides an update on this topic.

Source: Rocaton.com , July 2015

Why Plan Sponsors Make Bad Plan Designers

Summary: Putting employers in charge of designing defined contribution plans and members in charge of managing them has undermined retirement outcomes, according to a paper by three financial policy and law researchers.

Source: Ai-cio.com, July 2015

NAPA National DC Recordkeepers List Updated

Summary: The mid-year update of NAPA Net's list of recordkeepers is complete. While the number of recordkeeper deals this year has been relatively low, the deals have been significant. Review the list and commentary in this article.

Source: Napa-net.org, July 2015

Customize DC Investments for Participant Success

Summary: Most participants in defined contribution (DC) plans are not on track to achieve retirement income adequacy. A key reason is that the investment lineups in most DC plans are structured in a way that reduces participants’ likelihood of implementing well-diversified and age-appropriate investment strategies. Since they are not investment experts, most DC participants would benefit from a simplified lineup.

Source: Aon.com , July 2015

New PSCA Survey Highlights 403(b) Plan Trends

Summary: The Plan Sponsor Council of America has released its 2015 403(b) Plan Survey of 478 organizations. The survey contains 124 tables of data that highlight retirement plan trends from non-profit organizations and public schools, colleges and universities. Select finds reviewed here.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2015

Will the Average Retirement Age Continue to Increase?

Summary: This paper examines how changes in individual workers' past and present pension coverage, retirement incentives in Social Security, and retiree health insurance have contributed to retirement decisions for the 1931-1953 birth cohorts. It then uses these findings to project retirement behavior for the 1955-1987 cohorts.

Source: Bc.edu , July 2015

Do Catch-Up Contributions Increase 401k Saving?

Summary: To encourage Americans to save more for retirement, some suggest raising 401k "catch-up" contribution limits. To assess such an option, this analysis estimates the effects of a 2001 increase in 401k limits that also introduced a higher "catch-up" limit for those 50 and over. Findings are not encouraging.

Source: Bc.edu , July 2015

403(b) Automatic Enrollment Best Practices Guide

Summary: This new resource offers best practices for 403(b) non-ERISA plans is a comprehensive resource prepared by NTSA. It provides information relevant to all stages of providing auto enrollment of 403(b) participants including what an employer should consider before adopting an auto enrollment plan.

Source: Ntsa-net.org , July 2015

2015 Recordkeeping Survey

Summary: The questionnaire for the 2015 PLANSPONSOR Recordkeeping Survey was distributed to known providers of full-service and unbundled recordkeeping for both qualified and nonqualified defined contribution plans. This is a summary of the survey results.

Source: Plansponsor.com, July 2015

Four Strategies to Help Increase 401k Participation

Summary: Americans need to save for retirement, but many are unsure how to go about it. Employers realize that they are part of the solution that can lead employees toward making choices that can help to drive better outcomes. This white paper features four strategies and action steps which may help increase plan participation.

Source: Baml.com , July 2015

Change in Average Account Balances From January 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015

Summary: This is a chart of the change in average account balances (by age and tenure) from January 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015 among consistent 401k participants with account balances as of December 31, 2013.

Source: Ebri.org , July 2015

Relationship Between Automatic Enrollment and DC Plan Contributions: Evidence From a National Survey

Summary: This paper reexamines the determinants of 401k participation and contributions in the presence of automatic enrollment using nationally representative data from the Health and Retirement Study for 2006 through 2012. The results confirm previous findings that automatic enrollment is associated with a higher proportion of workers included in DC plans; however, automatically enrolled workers are less likely to contribute to their DC plans than voluntarily enrolled workers.

Source: Bc.edu, July 2015

Optimal Equity Glidepaths in Retirement

Summary: When systematic withdrawals are made from a retirement portfolio, glidepaths are often assessed via the probability of ruin (or success). This papers goal is to derive the optimal static glidepath with respect to this metric.

Source: Ssrn.com, July 2015

A Close Look at ERISA 403(b) Plans

Summary: Employees of educational institutions and other nonprofit employers who participate in 403(b) plans enjoy many investment options in their plans, according to a research study by BrightScope and the Investment Company Institute. Study also finds total costs of 403(b) plans decreased from 2009 to 2012.

Source: Ici.org , July 2015

The Plan Auditor Selection and Monitoring Process

Summary: After a recent DOL study found significant errors in auditor reviews of 5500 filings, plan sponsors should anticipates increased scrutiny around their process for choosing an auditor and evaluating their work. This white paper explains the DOL’s findings and provides recommendations for how to think about the auditor hiring process and where to ask questions when reviewing the final audit results.

Source: Lockton.com, June 2015

Using Alternatives in Defined Contribution Plans

Summary: Alternative investments have been used by DB plans for decades and it may be time for DC sponsors to consider a multi-alternative strategy to diversify plan line-ups. To the DC plan sponsor, offering a diversified set of alternatives can help increase the probability that participants reach their desired long-term return targets. For participants, a strategic allocation to alternatives may provide reduced volatility, a hedge against a variety of market risks and potentially improved total returns.

Source: Cloudfront.net , June 2015

Plan Sponsors' Loyalty Shows Slight Declines According to Chatham Partners

Summary: Plan sponsors' loyalty to their retirement service providers has declined slightly from 2014 levels, according to Chatham Partners' annual Provider Loyalty Index. The Provider Loyalty Index measures loyalty among plan sponsors with decision-making authority for their organizations' retirement plans.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, June 2015

Don't Roll the Dice on Department of Labor Audits

Summary: This resource guide is meant to walk employers through the process of an audit from the DOL. The white paper includes valuable information about how to prepare for an audit, the best way to acclimate staff to the audit process, what the DOL wants, and the most important elements of complying with requests.

Source: Ihdbenefits.com , June 2015

Auto-IRAs: How Much Would They Increase the Probability of 'Successful' Retirements and Decrease Retirement Deficits?

Summary: This paper analyzes the potential of a generic auto-IRA proposal to increase the probability of a "successful" retirement and decrease retirement deficits. Results were provided for all age groups from ages 35-64, but the primary focus was on the youngest cohort (ages 35-39), as they would have the longest period to benefit from this change and thus provide a better sample to assess the long-term effects of this proposal.

Source: Ssrn.com, June 2015

Financial Knowledge and 401k Investment Performance: A Case Study

Summary: Paper explores whether investors who are more financially knowledgeable earn more on their retirement plan investments compared to their less sophisticated counterparts, using a unique new dataset linking administrative data on investment performance and financial knowledge.

Source: Pensionresearchcouncil.org, June 2015

Social Interaction Effects and Individual Portfolio Choice: Evidence From 401k Plan Investors

Summary: Paper finds that participants are influenced by their coworkers when they make equity investment decisions. Using a rich dataset of 401k plans, researchers find that individuals are likely to increase their risky share when they have lower equity exposure than their coworkers in the last period. The effect is especially strong when the difference in equity exposure is substantial.

Source: Pensionresearchcouncil.org, June 2015

2015 Defined Contribution Plan Sponsor Survey Findings

Summary: This 30 page report provides insight into plan sponsors' interpretation of the roles of their DC plans, goals and philosophies in providing retirement benefits, considerations driving plan-related decisions and actions underway to help employees reach retirement success.

Source: Jpmorganfunds.com , June 2015

10 Best Practices for Global DC Plans

Summary: This 24 page paper provides a list of 10 best practices for global plan sponsors to help companies better capitalize on the potential of DC plans to further both their own business objectives and the retirement readiness of their participants around the world.

Source: Ssga.com , June 2015

Five Hot Trends in Retirement Planning

Summary: Retirement planning might be based on a few fundamental financial concepts, but the specifics are constantly changing. Technology and federal regulations have brought several big changes for employers and employees. Here are five trends in retirement planning every retirement plan sponsor and participant should know about.

Source: Bcigroup.com, June 2015

Locked Out of Retirement: The Threat to Small Business Retirement Savings

Summary: The DOL is expanding the definition of fiduciary investment advice under a federal law known as ERISA. The result would be that many traditional forms of compensation, such as commissions that vary from one investment to another, for financial advisors could become illegal under special provisions in that law called "prohibited transactions." According to this 13 page paper, a number of aspects of the proposal appear unworkable in actual practice, and would negatively impact how advisors assist small businesses in providing retirement benefits for their employees.

Source: Centerforcapitalmarkets.com , June 2015

Redefining the Retirement Plan

Summary: This paper is a guide to trends and strategies to help employers get the most out of their defined contribution programs. Defined benefit plans and Social Security were the simple answer to retirement for the past century. Life expectancy has improved though and an added strain has been placed on plan sponsors to help their employees replace their incomes in retirement. Fortunately, employers are equipped with more tools than ever before to help their employees retire with dignity.

Source: Axiaadvisory.com (registration may be required), June 2015

66,000 401k Plans Up for Grabs in 2015, Cogent Reports

Summary: Just over one in ten (11%) of 401k plan sponsors report they are very likely to replace their current recordkeeper sometime over the next 12 months. The likelihood of switching is highest among Mid-sized (13%), Large (20%) and Mega (18%) plans. These figures put the total estimated number of current plans likely to turn over at 66,000.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, June 2015

Which Is Better for 401k Retirees: Lifetime Annuities or Structured Withdrawals?

Summary: Far more workers are relying on 401k-style retirement plans than in years past. And while we know how to pay in to this new generation of retirement plans, we have not yet determined how best to structure the payouts. This paper examines the two basic methods put forth in professional literature and practice as opposing solutions to this problem facing retired households.

Source: Mercatus.org, June 2015

Stuck in the Mud or Road to Success? DC Plans and Fee Lawsuits

Summary: The message is clear for DC plan sponsors: follow best practices established for plan fees or risk getting stuck in a costly and time-consuming lawsuit. In this article, Callan describes select fee lawsuits and best practices to help plan sponsors stay on the path to success.

Source: Callan.com , June 2015

Are Managed Accounts a Better QDIA?

Summary: The basic premise of a managed account is the construction of a completion portfolio with participants' defined contribution assets, built around their whole asset profile and individual circumstances. Paper posit that managed accounts, customized at the participant level, have the ability to improve retirement outcomes if designed and implemented appropriately.

Source: Towerswatson.com, June 2015

Feng Shui of Defined Contribution Menu Construction

Summary: This paper addresses some of the issues that impact menu construction and investment product selection for defined contribution plans for the purpose of inspiring other sponsors to evaluate the harmony between their plan design and their menu construction.

Source: Multnomahgroup.com, June 2015

Workers See Regular, Roth 401ks As Same

Summary: Due to differing tax treatments, each $1,000 placed into a traditional, tax-deductible 401k costs less today than $1,000 placed into a Roth 401k, but that Roth will provide more money in retirement. New research indicates that workers don't recognize this difference between the two types of employer-sponsored retirement accounts when deciding how much to save.

Source: Bc.edu, June 2015

Survey Shows Lack of Planning for Retirement Savings Distribution

Summary: A survey released today by Pentegra Retirement Services, among over 1,000 employed U.S. adults (not already retired), showed several surprising results, particularly when it comes to people's lack of planning for accessing their retirement savings.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, June 2015

An Economist's Perspective of Fiduciary Monitoring of Investments

Summary: A central thesis is that ongoing oversight is an exercise in risk management and that risk management is a never ending process. The article emphasizes the importance of (a) examining multiple risk factors and not relying on performance numbers alone, (b) understanding the presence of financial leverage (should it exist), (c) clarifying the role of a service provider when an outside party is used, and (d) letting participants know about the type of monitoring being done by an investment committee.

Source: Pensionriskmatters.com , May 2015

It Pays to Set the Menu: Mutual Fund Investment Options in 401k Plans

Summary: This paper investigates whether mutual fund families acting as service providers in 401k plans display favoritism toward their own affiliated funds. Using a hand-collected dataset on retirement investment options, paper shows that affiliated mutual funds are less likely to be removed from and more likely to be added to a 401k menu.

Source: Pensionresearchcouncil.org, May 2015

DOL Publishes Plan Audit Quality Report

Summary: The DOL's Employee Benefits Security Administration has published this 193 page study on the quality of benefit plan audits performed by certified public accountants. The report reveals serious issues with the current system including that 39 percent of the audits contained major deficiencies which put $653 billion and 22.5 million plan participants and beneficiaries at risk.

Source: Dol.gov , May 2015

Inspiring a World of Habitual Savers; Retirement Readiness Survey 2015

Summary: The U.S. is a leading country in terms of having one of the highest percentages of workers who are "habitual savers" who always make sure they are saving for retirement, according to a study released today from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies in collaboration with Aegon. The Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2015 compares and contrasts the retirement outlook and preparations of 16,000 individuals in 15 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Source: Transamericacenter.org , May 2015

In-depth Report on Target-Date Fund Glide Paths

Summary: Report examines target-date fund glide paths "with the intention of differentiating the good from the bad. Our focus is on fiduciary responsibility and the characteristics of a glide path that make it prudent."

Source: Targetdatesolutions.com , May 2015

New Study Confirms 401k Limits Not Constraining

Summary: A recent study shows that raising the contribution limit would do little to increase retirement saving. Researchers looked at the impact of changes that Congress enacted in 2001, which increased 401k limits for all ages and established a new catch-up provision for workers age 50 or older, allowing them to contribute much more.

Source: Marketwatch.com, May 2015

DC Retirement Income Solutions

Summary: Today, defined contribution plans are the main source of retirement savings for many individuals. As many plans experience a maturing of their participant population, there's more discussion about encouraging ex-employees to stay in the plan, and about offering retirement income solutions to support retirees. However, action on these issues is slow in coming.

Source: Russell.com , May 2015

DC Plan Success Factors: Framework for Plans With an Objective of Retirement Income Adequacy

Summary: DCIIA has developed a best practices framework to outline actions that plan sponsors and fiduciaries can take to build plans that have the greatest potential to help participants achieve retirement readiness. The framework also addresses specific factors related to plan design, investment structure, and plan monitoring. Framework is laid out in this 10 page paper.

Source: Dciia.org , May 2015

Data Finds Increase in Both Employer and Employee 401k Contributions

Summary: Judy Diamond Associates has completed a comparative analysis of 401k plan contributions among both employers and employees in 2012 and 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. This research shows that together, employers and employees contributed a total of $13 billion more in 2013 than in 2012.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2015

Mega 401k Plans Triple Use of Managed Accounts

Summary: Mega plan sponsors are pushing the envelope yet again by offering more personalization to their plan participants through managed account vehicles. The proportion of Mega plans offering these customized allocation solutions as their 401k plan default investment option has increased from 5% in 2014 to 18% in 2015 according to a Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2015

Principal's Financial Well-Being Index: May 2015

Summary: This 11 page report is the results of a survey was conducted online within the United States on by Harris Poll between February 9 and February 17, 2015 among 1,111 employees. This is one in a series of quarterly studies to identify and track changes in the financial well-being of American workers.

Source: Principal.com , May 2015

Automation, Mobility and Advice Increase Employee Participation, Survey

Summary: In 2014, 78 percent of active 401k participants who made a change to their plan made a positive one, by either starting or increasing their contributions. Compared to 2013, the number of participants who contributed to their 401k account increased by 18 percent, according to the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch 401k Wellness Scorecard. This growth can be attributed in part to millennials' increasing focus on savings, as 64 percent more employees in this generation started contributing to a 401k account in 2014 compared to 2013.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2015

Americans Likely Leaving $24 Billion in Company Match on the Table

Summary: A new research report, issued by Financial Engines, estimates that Americans leave $24 billion in unclaimed 401k company matches on the table each year. The company examined the saving records of 4.4 million retirement plan participants at 553 companies, and found that one-in-four employees (25 percent) miss out on receiving the full company 401k match by not saving enough.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2015

Wisdom for Qualified Retirement Plan Sponsors: Focus on Your Five "T's"

Summary: Recent history has shown that conflicts of interest in the employee benefit context are not well understood and, as a result, oftentimes remain unidentified. Unfortunately, these latent conflicts can lead to enterprise-risks that can otherwise be easily avoided with just a bit of work up front. Focusing on the five "T's" -- Time, Talent, Tools, Trust, and Terms -- is an approach that should be applied when evaluating any service provider.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2015

Retirement in America: The Fiduciary Definition in Context

Summary: The DOL recently proposed new regulations to address the changing times and to help eliminate conflicts of interest in retirement planning and investing. This 13 page white paper take a look at the bigger retirement picture, and consider how the DOL's proposal may affect retirement preparation in the United States.

Source: Mtrustcompany.com , May 2015

New Investment Opportunity for DC Plans - Qualifying Longevity Annuity Contracts Are Here

Summary: In an effort to help prevent retirees from outliving their retirement savings, the IRS and the Treasury Department finalized new rules that allow participants in defined contribution plans to invest in "longevity annuities" that do not violate the complex minimum required distribution (MRD) requirements, which otherwise mandate that participants start taking plan distributions upon reaching age 70 1/2. These complex new rules are summarized in this article.

Source: Groom.com , May 2015

Employees Favor Companies Playing More Active Role in Their Retirement Plans

Summary: Employees overwhelmingly favor their employers playing a more active role in their defined contribution (DC) retirement plans, but plan sponsors voice reluctance to doing so, a new study from Northern Trust shows.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2015

Retirement Plan Termination Options

Summary: With any 401k plan termination, the participant will often have an opportunity to decide what to do with the assets currently in the plan. When this occurs, employees typically have three broad choices for their former retirement plan assets – roll the assets into an IRA, transfer the assets to the new employer-sponsored plan, or take a lump sum distribution. Each of these choices has benefits and restrictions worth considering.

Source: Clearygull.com , May 2015

Strategies to Help DC Plan Participants Improve Financial Wellness and Achieve a Secure Retirement

Summary: The time has come to adopt and implement proven features and solutions to help defined contribution plan participants achieve improved financial wellness and enjoy greater financial security in their retirement years. Paper outlines three strategies employers can adopt to accomplish this.

Source: Xerox.com , May 2015

Retirement Plan Coverage by Firm Size: An Update

Summary: This article builds on previous work and provides an update of the relationship between pension plan coverage and firm size among private-sector workers, using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation for 3 years: 2006, 2009, and 2012.

Source: Ssa.gov, May 2015

Employers Plan to Bump Up 401k Contributions

Summary: More than half (57%) of the roughly 90 multinational companies responding to Vanguard's survey expect the level of company contributions to their DC plans to increase "somewhat," and 14% expect them to increase "dramatically."

Source: Cfo.com, May 2015

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