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March 3, 2006
Today's sponsor: InvestLink

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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)

Lessons from Enron (Revisited)
Excerpt: "It awakened--or should have awakened--plan sponsors to the need for corporate governance for ERISA plans.... The judge ... determined that, under ERISA, the members of the board's Compensation Committee were fiduciaries because they appointed the members of the Plan Committee. That is, a person who appoints a fiduciary is a fiduciary." (Reish Luftman Reicher & Cohen)

Shareholders Could Panic When Pension Liabilities Erase Equity
Excerpt: "The impact of the balance sheet changes will vary widely by industry. Manufacturers of durable goods that sponsor DB plans could see as much as a 25% hit on their shareholders' equity, according to Watson Wyatt estimates, with service sector companies, and those in transportation, communications and the utility sectors also suffering double-digit percentage losses." (Treasury & Risk Management)

California Taxpayers May Face Big Blow for Pension Costs
Excerpt: "Pension systems in California are operating on assumptions of a 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent annual return on investment portfolios, but investment experts say historical trends suggest stocks will increase by only 6 percent to 7 percent annually. Coupled with rising retirement rates and growing pension benefits, the resulting squeeze could leave dozens of pension funds without enough money for payouts." (Los Angeles Daily News)

Frist Threatens to Sink Pension Overhaul Bill
Excerpt: "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley threatened to sink a stalled pension overhaul package and to move some measures, including an airline-relief provision, separately.... Pressure has been mounting on Congress to pass legislation following corporate bankruptcies that left the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the quasi-governmental agency the insures defined-benefit pensions, with more than $28.8 billion in unfunded liabilities last year." (Bloomberg News via Detroit News)

The Big Freeze (Pension, That Is)
Excerpt: "The move to freeze pensions at solid, profitable companies like Verizon ... is the latest sign of pressure on traditional guaranteed pension plans. 'It's an entirely new phenomenon for healthy companies to freeze their pensions,' says Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College." (AARP Bulletin)

Cheney Calls for More Savings, Stronger Pension Funding Legislation
Excerpt: "Cheney said the bills need to be improved to win the president's signature. 'Our experts have studied the congressional proposals carefully and they are convinced that unless the bills are strengthened, there will be an even greater risk that workers will lose benefits,' Cheney said." (AP via Washington Post)

Review of 'Retirement Roadmap' Distribution Planning Software
Excerpt: "[T]he largest growth area in the financial planning profession will be asset distribution planning, managing clients' assets and spending patterns in the postretirement years. To prosper in the future, financial planners will have to be able to serve this segment of the market with some form of decumulation planning software." (Financial Planning)

New for 2006 - The Roth 401(k) and Roth 403(b)
Excerpt: "As of 2006, Roth IRA contributions will still only be available to married couples filing jointly with adjusted gross incomes ('AGI') of less than $160,000, single individuals with an AGI less than $110,000, and most married individuals filing separate returns with an AGI less than $10,000. These restrictive AGI limitations do not apply to the new Roth 401(k) or 403(b) plans..." (Roth IRA Advisor)

En Banc Fifth Circuit Vacates ERISA Standing Decision
Excerpt: "Sitting en banc, the Fifth Circuit today took on the issue of standing under ERISA in the case of Milofsky v. American Airlines.... At issue in the case was whether a subset of plan participants in a $uper $aver-A 401K Capital Accumulation Plan could sue plan fiduciaries under Section 502(a)(2) to recover losses to the $uper $aver Plan for breach of fiduciary duty." (Workplace Prof Blog)

New Option for Military Retirements?
Excerpt: "[A] new plan might be offered as a voluntary option, promising at least some retirement benefits to many members who don't expect to serve 20 years.... Though designed to become the sole retirement plan of new entrants, it also would be offered as an alternative to current members." (Military.com)

Opinion: Last Battle Over Pensions to Be Fought in State and Local Governments
Excerpt: "[O]ne of the big fights in public finance in the years ahead [is] How to pay for pensions. State and local finance marks the last stand of the pension system." (Joe Mysak of Bloomberg News)

Oregon to Lower Retirement Contributions Due from Local Governmental Units
Excerpt: "The board of Oregon's public employee pension system is redistributing its reserves, which will reduce the payments due from state government, cities, counties and school districts. The decision will save Oregon's public sector more than $100 million a year starting in 2007..." (The Oregonian)

'Alternative Investments' Can Fit Into IRAs
Excerpt: "To help their baby boomer clients generate a decent income stream in retirement, advisors are increasingly investing their clients' self-directed IRAs in alternative assets -- everything from private equity, limited partnerships, and LLCs to real estate and mortgages. Some are even developing new products to address this growing trend." (Investment Advisor)

Life Without a 401(k): How Employees Can Save
Excerpt: "As companies cut costs, many twentysomethings now hold freelance, temporary, or contract positions that don't come with a 401(k) or another retirement plan ... Thanks to the power of compounding, a little scrimping now can grow into a hefty sum down the road. So how much should cash-strapped Generation Debt workers save, and where should the savings go?" (Business Week)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide, Retirement Plans (PDF)
17 pages. Description of pending legislation as of February 28, 2006. (Hewitt)

Text of ASPPA CEO on Retirement Savings
Excerpt: "We are particularly wary of proposals for individual savings vehicles with tax incentives similar to those provided by workplace retirement plans... The success of the employer-sponsored retirement plan system relies on valuable tax incentives. And while this structure is far from perfect, it is certainly not broken. We must be careful of proposals that could, inadvertently, make things worse." (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

Disaster Relief Relating to PBGC Deadlines in Response to California Incidents in Late 2005
Excerpt: "The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is waiving certain penalties and extending certain deadlines in response to severe storms, flooding, mudslides and landslides that occurred December 17, 2005, through January 3, 2006, in California." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation)

Disaster Relief Relating to PBGC Deadlines in Response to Wildfires in Oklahoma
Excerpt: "The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is waiving certain penalties and extending certain deadlines in response to wildfires on December 1, 2005, in Oklahoma." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation)

Disaster Relief Relating to PBGC Deadlines in Response to Wildfires in Texas
Excerpt: "The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is waiving certain penalties and extending certain deadlines in response to wildfires on December 1, 2005, in Texas." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation)

Trends in Retirement Plan Coverage Over the Last Decade (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "From 1992-93 to 2005, there was an overall drop in retirement coverage; participation in defined contribution plans eclipsed that in defined benefit plans, and the features of retirement plans changed in tandem with the declining participation." (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: SEC Proposes New Disclosure and Other Rules for Executive Compensation (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "The SEC's proposed rules were released on January 27, 2006, but will not be effective until the SEC publishes an adopting release in the Federal Register. However, by all indications, this proposal is intended to move quickly and is expected to be in place for the 2007 proxy season." (Dechert)

SEC Provides Guidance on Definition of 'Perquisites' (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "In addition to the proposed new compensation disclosure structure, the SEC release also provided 'interpretive guidance' setting forth the SEC's interpretation of current rules on the disclosure of perquisites." (Powell Goldstein)

Overview: SEC Proposes New Proxy Disclosure Rules (PDF)
5 pages; includes six concrete 'Current Action Steps' to be taken. (Holme Roberts & Owen LLP)

Overview: New Executive Compensation Disclosure Rules Proposed (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has unveiled a far-reaching and highly detailed proposal to change the way companies disclose executive compensation in their proxy statements, with a specific requirement to provide the information in 'plain English.'" (Towers Perrin)

Feds May Soon Check All Workers' IDs
Excerpt: "Congress is headed toward approving a plan that would require employers to check every worker's Social Security number or immigration work permit against a new federal computer database." (USA Today)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Advanced Cafeteria Plans Conference
in Minnesota on June 28, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

Health Savings Accounts: Design, Care, and Feeding-- What Employers, TPAs, and Advisors Need to Know and Do
Nationwide on March 23, 2006
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Remarks by Vice President Cheney at the 2006 Saver Summit
(White House)

Calhoun Law Group Offices Have Moved.
(Calhoun Law Group, P.C.)

Many Medicare Recipients Could Cover Premiums by Switching to Cost-Effective Drugs; Taxpayers Also Could Save
(Consumers Union)

Health Care Mandates Failing to Gain Traction With State Lawmakers Chamber Scorecard Shows Bills Falling Flat in Several States
(U.S. Chamber of Commerce)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Group Account Executive- Mid/Large Market
for MetLife
in KY, OH

Temporary Retirement Services Specialist
for Administaff
in TX




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

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