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May 21, 2013          Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Senior Health Benefits Analyst
for The Segal Company in CA

Senior Sales/Relationship Management Consultant
for United Retirement Plan Consultants in OR

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Fred S. Shapiro & Associates, Inc. in MD

Retirement Specialist
for Nationwide Insurance in KY

Communications Manager 2
for Wells Fargo in MN

Sr. Health Plan Analyst
for Unite Here Health in IL

Retirement Plan Administrator
for TPA Firm in NH

Pension Project Coordinator
for CUNA Mutual Group in WI

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Webcasts and Conferences

Form 5500: Lessons Learned, New Issues and Best Practices for the 2012 Filing Season (NY CLE Program)
June 20, 2013 in NY
(WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network ), New York Chapter)

Health Insurance Marketplace 101 Webinar
June 6, 2013 WEBCAST
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))

Health Insurance Marketplace 101 Webinar
June 12, 2013 WEBCAST
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))

Health Insurance Marketplace 101 Webinar
June 19, 2013 WEBCAST
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))

Health Insurance Marketplace 101 Webinar
June 20, 2013 WEBCAST
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))

Retirement Plan Compliance Assistance Seminar for Small Business
June 6, 2013 in KY
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA))

2013 ERISA Update Seminar
November 20, 2013 in HI
(TRI Pension Services)

Affordable Care Act Compliance: Most Commonly Asked Questions Webinar
June 6, 2013 WEBCAST
(Tango Health)

View All Webcasts and Conferences


 

Avoiding Form 5500 Audit Traps
"One of the most immediately recognizable benefits of EFAST2 is the increase in the efficiency with which the Form 5500, related schedules and independent qualified plan auditor's report may now be reviewed.... It comes as no surprise then that regulatory correspondence and examination activity is on the rise during the EFAST2 era. The DOL reportedly corresponded with thousands of employers last year requesting further explanation of or amendments to previously reported information. The IRS and DOL are likely to audit more retirement plans this year than any year before, and EFAST2 is undoubtedly a highly contributing factor." (Multnomah Group)


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Illinois Pension Fix Seen in Best Rally Since 2011
"Illinois debt is rallying the most since 2011 as investors bet lawmakers will end two decades of inaction and pass a measure to fix the worst-funded U.S. state pension system.... Taxable Illinois pension-obligation bonds maturing in June 2033 yielded 2.29 percentage points more than benchmark Treasuries May 13, four days after the Senate bill was approved ... That's the smallest penalty since August 2011, when Standard & Poor's rated the state two steps higher than its current A- grade." (Bloomberg)

SEC Commissioner Calls for Uniform Fiduciary Standard for Investment Industry
"Having a uniform standard for both investment advisors and broker-dealers would create a more level playing field for investors, who often aren't aware of the different responsibilities each has to clients, [SEC Commissioner Elisse] Walter said. 'The more important point is [that] depending on who I hire, I get different levels of care and different rules applicable and that, to me, has never made any sense,' said Walter." (On Wall Street)

Beware of Prohibited Transactions in Self-Directed IRA Investment Opportunities
"A taxpayer who has a self-directed IRA and who guarantees a loan entered into by a company the shares of which are owned by the IRA runs afoul of the tax Code's prohibited transaction rules, causing the account to fail to qualify as an IRA, according to the Tax Court[.]" [Peek v. Comr., 140 T.C. No. 12 (2013)] (Bloomberg BNA)

Plan Ruled 'Governmental' Despite Establishment by Private Entity
"So what happens if a plan is established by a private entity, but later maintained by a government or one of its agencies or instrumentalities? ... It is clear that if the plan had continued to be operated by [the private entity] the retirees could have sued in federal court under ERISA. However, notwithstanding the fact that [two governmental entities] agreed to take over the obligations of the private employer, the court held that ERISA would not apply to a lawsuit filed after the takeover." [Smith v. Regional Transit Authority (E.D. La. May 10, 2013] (Calhoun Law Group)


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CalPERS Seeks to Bar Law Firm in San Bernardino's Bankruptcy
"The $265.5 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System ... accused the law firm of Winston & Strawn of being 'deceptive' by hiring several key lawyers who had been working for the pension fund in the bankruptcies of the California cities of San Bernardino and Stockton. Winston & Strawn represents creditor National Public Finance Guarantee Corp., which opposes CalPERS in the two bankruptcies[.]" (Pensions & Investments)

Lew Taps Government Retiree Pension Fund
"[Treasury Secretary Jacob] Lew said that he would tap the civil service retirement and disability fund and a similar fund that covers retired postal workers. The law allows him to remove investments from these funds to clear room for more borrowing until Congress votes to raise the debt limit. Under the law, any investments diverted from the pension funds must be replaced with interest once Congress approves raising the debt limit." (Miami Herald)

New Survey and Research Show the Persistence and Importance of Employee Stock Purchase Plans
"[O]ver half of the surveyed companies (51%) plan to modify their ESPPs in the next few years, and that 31% will make their plans more attractive for participants by, for example, increasing the purchase-price discount or adding a lookback provision.... [A]mong the surveyed ESPP companies, the percentage with a 15% discount on the purchase price fell from 87% in 2004 to 71% in 2011, while the percentage with lookbacks dropped from 82% in 2004 to 62% in 2011." (myStockOptions.com)

The Perfect Fit for One-Size-Fits-All Target Date Funds (PDF)
"There are two indisputable truths in defined contribution retirement savings: [1] Saving enough is critical to retiring with dignity. [2] There is a risk zone spanning the 5 years before and after retirement during which losses can materially disrupt retirement lifestyles, even if savings are sufficient.... These facts are largely ignored when it comes to target date funds." (Target Date Solutions)


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Pension Plan Suing Merrill Lynch Lacks Standing, Seventh Circuit Affirms
"Judge John D. Tinder ... found that the account freeze imposed by Merrill Lynch was done in compliance with a state court order [stemming from a lawsuit against a plan participant by an alleged creditor]. Because Merrill Lynch was obligated to comply with the order, it could not be held responsible for any injury suffered by the plan administrator." (Bloomberg BNA)

Wagner Law Group Legal Updates in ERISA, Employee Benefits & Human Resources, May 2013
Articles include: Tax Reform Proposals Regarding the Retirement System; DOL Offers Tips on TDFs; Definition of Fiduciary; Re-Enrollment Default Investments: Bidwell v. University Medical Center; 408b-2 and 404a-5 Disclosure Aftermath; Brokerage Accounts; New Areas of Potential Litigation. (The Wagner Law Group)

SEC Chairman Mary Jo White's Honeymoon Short-lived?
"Part of White's plea for more examiners has to do with the sudden influx of 1,500 new hedge and private fund advisors since the Dodd-Frank reform act added the new registration requirement, and the fact that only one in 10 advisors registered with the Commission are inspected each year. Dodd-Frank was supposed to alleviate some of the strain on SEC resources by de-registering some 4,000 smaller investment advisers, and relegating them state oversight. However, only about 2,000 actually de-registered from the SEC." (fi360)

Younger Prospects Getting Cold Shoulder from Advisers
"[T]wo-thirds of executives at broker-dealer and registered investment adviser firms ... said they are still focused on serving and attracting baby boomer clients, while just 23% said they're targeting Gen X (ages 34-48) and Gen Y (18-33)." (Investment News; free registration required)

LIMRA Benchmarks In-Plan Guarantee Market for 2012
"As of December 2012, defined contribution (DC) in-plan guarantee assets totaled $2.2 billion ... 1.8 million participants currently have access to in-plan guarantees in their DC plans.... [M]ore than a third of Americans with DC plans would be interested in purchasing an in-plan guarantee product." (LIMRA)

[Opinion]

Text of Comments by Brokers to SEC on Proposed Fiduciary Standard (PDF)
"We do not agree -- nor have we seen evidence -- that extending [the fiduciary] standard to brokers will reduce fraudulent activity, that not being a fiduciary implies not putting our customers' interests first, or that it will increase consumer understanding of the differences between brokers and advisors. Brokers and advisors perform inherently different functions, and we are certain that any attempt by the SEC to impose a uniform fiduciary standard or harmonize the rules by which financial professionals such as brokers and advisors are governed will create more confusion in the marketplace instead of alleviating it." (National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies)

[Opinion]

Why a Fiduciary Standard Helps All Investors and 401(k) Plan Sponsors
"We all know that investors can't distinguish between brokers and investment advisers, particularly since brokers have been allowed to re-brand themselves as financial advisers.... Beyond that, we know that the typical investor is also ill-equipped to evaluate investments, does very little independent research of the investments recommended to them, and relies heavily, if not exclusively, on the recommendations they receive. That makes investors extraordinarily vulnerable and is precisely the sort of relationship of trust that demands fiduciary protection." (Fiduciary News)

[Opinion]

Financial Services Industry Continues Its Anti-Investor Campaigns
"[K]ey elements of the financial industry are actively promoting legislative, regulatory and legal campaigns designed to denigrate any benefits to customer-investors, including a powerful campaign underway by a financial trade group to derail any pro-fiduciary actions from the [DOL]. What's more, these recent actions are not isolated. They are part of the ongoing campaign to ignore any admission that the financial services industry is broken and that it has an institutionalized disdain for its own customers." (MutualFundReform.com)

[Opinion]

NY and NJ Pensions Recover from Crisis?
"The lesson of 2008 for these pensions was to keep their long-term view in equities but also start diversifying away from public equities into alternative investments. Will this strategy work? If they can internalize the due diligence and negotiate hard on terms, cutting costs and minimizing fees in private equity and hedge funds, the added diversification should increase returns and lower the volatility of their funds over the long-run." (Pension Pulse)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Official Guidance]

Text of Revised SEC Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations: Regulation S-K
Q&As include: "Is restricted stock that has been granted subject to forfeiture pursuant to an equity compensation plan reportable in the Item 201(d) Equity Compensation Plan Information table? ... Should shares that may be issued under performance share awards if specified targets are met and shares that are credited as phantom shares under a deferred compensation plan be reported in column (a) of the Equity Compensation Plan Information table as securities to be issued upon exercise of outstanding options, warrants and rights?" (Securities and Exchange Commission)

[Guidance Overview]

SEC Staff Updates Interpretive Guidance On Executive and Director Compensation Disclosure Rules (PDF)
"The staff of the [SEC] periodically updates its interpretive guidance on executive and director compensation proxy disclosure rules through the release of Compliance & Disclosure Interpretations (CDIs). The CDIs are drafted in question and answer format for issues of general applicability, and also in the form of interpretive responses regarding particular situations. The most recent guidance was released on May 17, 2013. The interpretative guidance is briefly summarized [in the linked article]." (Frederic W. Cook & Co., Inc.)

PCAOB Re-Proposes New Auditing Standard Affecting Executive Compensation and Risk Assessments
"[The] re-proposed amendments [by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board], like the proposed amendments, would require the auditor to perform procedures that include, but are not limited to: [1] Reading the employment and compensation contracts between the company and its executive officers; [2] Reading proxy statements and other relevant company filings with the SEC and other regulatory agencies that relate to the company's financial relationships and transactions with its executive officers, and [3] Consider inquiring of the chair of the compensation committee, or the compensation committee's equivalent, and any compensation consultants engaged by either the compensation committee or the company regarding the structuring of the company's compensation for executive officers." (Winston & Strawn LLP)

Press Releases

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