Retirement Plans
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February 21, 2006
Today's sponsor: ASPPA • Working for America's Retirement™

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New from ASPPA Benefits Conference of the South

The Benefits Conference of the South provides an opportunity to discuss employee benefits issues with colleagues and local, regional and national government representatives from the Internal Revenue service, Department of Labor as well as private sector experts.

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(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Research Suggests Need for Reducing 401(k) Plan Investment Choices
Excerpt: "With studies showing that too many investment choices in 401(k) plans can be counterproductive -- by either paralyzing, puzzling or even discouraging workers from participating -- the trend is for companies to simplify their offerings and beef up worker education." (The Journal News)

Will 'Default' Turn into 'Your Fault?' -- 401(k) Plans and Fiduciary Liability (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "Successful plan sponsors are reviewing their default fund decision for two main reasons: to limit their fiduciary liability, and/or to maximize the account value for those that do not make a decision for themselves. They've learned about the danger inside the key myths surrounding default funds." (Business & Compensation Solutions)

The Case for Automating 401(k) Enrollment as a Default Selection (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "[The target page presents] highlights from the Merrill Lynch white paper, Making Good Retirement Choices Automatic, which presents the case for automating 401(k) enrollment and making 401(k) contributions themselves a default selection, rather than an elected option. The entire white paper can be found [at]" (Benefits & Compensation Solutions)

Special Report: Retirement Income -- Shifting Gears from Asset Accumulation
Excerpt: "The emphasis for years, both in managing and servicing 401(k) plans, has been to promote asset accumulation. Now, the focus is moving toward distribution and retirement income, and enabling individuals to maintain and manage a stream of income after their primary careers have ended. That new focus will create significant challenges for plan sponsors and others in the industry." ( one-time registration required)

Are Pension Cuts Snuffing Out Workers' Dreams?
Excerpt: "Steel companies and airlines were among the first to begin freezing pensions in order to stay afloat. But now, healthy companies are doing it -- in order to bolster their bottom line. And the message for workers is clear: It's up to them now to look after their own retirements." (ABC News)

Text: The Corporate Bond High Quality Centered Yield Curve for Pension Discounting (PDF)
10 pages. Excerpt: "This paper updates the Treasury White Paper on constructing corporate bond yield curves for the purpose of calculating pension liabilities and lump sum distributions. The update extends the White Paper methodology for the AA corporate bond yield curve to the high quality centered yield curve, which is derived from bonds in the three high quality classes AAA, AA, and A combined." (U.S. Department of the Treasury)

Banks More Committed to Defined Benefit Pension Plans
Excerpt: "Fewer banks have frozen their defined benefit pension plans than the national average and banks offer richer benefits packages than the norm, according to the first annual Defined Benefit Survey from Pentegra Retirement Services." ( one-time registration required)

Plan Sponsor of the Year, IBM, Ahead of Its Time
Excerpt: "While it has garnered fewer headlines, Big Blue's proactive approach also has led the company to find innovative ways to offer some of the plusses of a traditional pension plan within the defined contribution context. The company claims that its 401(k) plan participants pay much less than do workers at most comparable employers, and it recently has introduced groundbreaking new features to the 401(k) plan that seem destined to be the wave of the future ...." ( one-time registration required)

How States Are Aiming to Keep Public Pension Dollars Out of Sudan
Excerpt: "The latest American initiatives to put pressure on the government of Sudan are centered many thousands of miles away from its capital, Khartoum. A handful of state legislatures in the United States have passed laws that bar their public pension funds from investing in companies with ties to Sudan, which has been accused of extensive human rights abuses in a long-running civil war." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

CalPERS Votes Against State Pension Overhaul Bill
Excerpt: "In opposing the measure, CalPERS argued the plan would create a two-tier benefit program and could hamper future investments and boost contribution rates for the state, cities and other public employers." ( one-time registration required)

Creating a Tax-Transparent, Cross-Border Pension Asset Vehicle
Excerpt: "Unilever, a global consumer goods company based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, is among the first to have introduced a solution. It recently launched Univest -- a transparent, cross-border pension pooling vehicle." (Wall Street & Technology)

Automatic IRAs -- A Quick Fix for Workers without Pensions?
Excerpt: "Last week, a group covering much of the political waterfront -- comprising the Heritage Foundation, the Retirement Security Project (which is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and affiliated with the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute and the Brookings Institution) and AARP -- proposed an idea they think would work: automatic IRAs." (The Washington Post; one-time registration required)

Editorial: The Way for American Workers to Save
Excerpt: "Unless new policies are enacted soon, many Americans are destined for a deprived old age. Some 70 million people, nearly half of the work force, have no employer-provided savings plan of any kind. Over all, half of American households have saved little or nothing for retirement." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Blog: Part-Time Employee Exclusions Revisited
Excerpt: "Specia.lists should again begin requesting that plan administrators remove or clarify plan language if a plan includes a provision that defines an exclusion classification by reference to service and the plan provision could result in the exclusion, by reason of a minimum service requirement, of an employee who has completed a year of service." (BeneBlog)

Blog: It May Be Becoming More Difficult to Exclude Part-Timers from Receiving Employee Benefits
Excerpt: "[I]t appears that the IRS is going to take a closer look at qualified employee benefit plan which seek through various methods to exclude part-time employees from employee benefit coverage." (Workplace Prof Blog)

Retirement Age 'Should Reach 85'
Excerpt: "The age of retirement should be raised to 85 by 2050 because of trends in life expectancy, a US biologist has said." (BBC News)

Blog on the IRS's SARSEP Checklist
Excerpt: "An IRS checklist summarizes the main compliance issues for a Salary Reduction Simplified Employee Pension (SARSEP). [SARSEP Checklist] The checklist can be used to guide annual review by a business that sponsors a SARSEP, but is not meant to substitute for a complete plan review nor is it to be submitted to the IRS." (BeneBlog)

Retirement Legislation Update as of February 17, 2006
PowerPoint Presentation (American Benefits Council)

Issues in Brief: Empirical Regularity Suggests Retirement Risks
Excerpt: "This brief presents the data from the seven Surveys of Consumer Finances conducted between 1983 and 2001, and then discusses why each of the factors listed ... -- the decline in defined benefit pensions, the drop in rates of return on capital, the increase in life expectancy, and the rise in health care costs -- all require an increase in the wealth-to-income ratio to produce a comparable standard of living in retirement." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Blog: IASB Proposes Changes to Stock Compensation Accounting
Excerpt: "The International Accounting Standards Board has proposed changes to international accounting rules relating to two common aspects of stock compensation. [Exposure Draft of Proposed Amendments to IFRS 2 Share-based Payment: Vesting Conditions and Cancellations; Press Release, 2/2/06] The two issues were previously considered by the International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee, which was unable to reach a consensus." (BeneBlog)

Workers Employed through Staffing Agency Are Not Eligible for ERISA Benefits, According to Court
Excerpt: "Because of the clearly worded exclusions in this case, the court did not have to address whether the workers were in fact common-law employees of the company." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Overview: President Bush's 2007 Budget -- Health Care and Retirement Plan Issues (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "On February 6, President Bush sent to Congress his administration's fiscal year 2007 budget proposal which includes, among many items, retirement, health care and other employee benefits provisions. .... Even though the package is considered a blueprint, because it contains no legislative language, it nevertheless provides insight into the President's thinking and priorities for the year." (Buck Consultants)

Additional sponsor: ASPPA • Working for America's Retirement™

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
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NEW! Qualified Plan Financial Consultant

Qualified Plan Financial Consultant, QPFC, is a new professional credential for financial professionals who sell, advise, market or support qualified retirement plans.
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(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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401(k) Client Relationship Manager
for The Douglas Group
in NJ, NY, PA

Accounting Manager
for 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds
in NY

Defined Contribution Pension Plan Administrator
for Philadelphia Based Benefits Consulting Firm
in PA

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Independent Retirement Plan Administration Company
in FL

Senior Vice President, Customer Contact Center
for CitiStreet - A State Street and Citigroup company
in MA

Certified Financial Planner
for Alliance Benefit Group-MidAtlantic, LLC
in MD

Client Relationship Manager
for Freedom One Financial Group
in MI

ERISA Health Attorney
for Groom Law Group, Chartered
in DC

ERISA Fiduciary Responsibility Attorney
for Groom Law Group, Chartered
in DC

ERISA/Employee Benefits Litigation Attorney
for Groom Law Group, Chartered
in DC

Financial Advisor
for TD Banknorth Wealth Management
in ME

Retirement Product Specialist
for Trustar Retirement Services
in DE

for Retirement Alliance, Inc.
in NH

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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.