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March 30, 2006
Today's sponsor: ASPPA - Working for America's Retirement (tm)

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DOL Speaks: The 2006 Employee Benefit Conference

This is the conference for Title I ERISA issues. DOL Speaks is co-sponsored by The Department of Labor/EBSA and ASPPA.
Discuss employee benefits issues with colleagues. Interact with local, regional and national government employees from the Department of Labor.

Register Today!


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

Milwaukee County Sues Firm for $100 Million Over Pension Deal
Excerpt: "Hoping to recoup at least $100 million paid out in the controversial pension deal that still dogs its finances, Milwaukee County on Wednesday sued its former actuarial firm, claiming malpractice." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; one-time free registration required)

Opinion: About Those April 15 Quarterlies
Excerpt: "Congressional conferees working toward compromise pension reform legislation had originally aimed toward having a bill ready before the end of this month, hoping to have House and Senate votes within the first week of April, the idea being that enactment could come in time to settle some uncertainty over quarterly contributions due for pension plans on April 15." (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

U.S. Facing Naked Truth on Pensions
Excerpt: "The retirements of 44 million Americans are in the hands of a government pension safety net that is running a $28 billion deficit and has uncertain help from Congress." (The Arizona Republic)

Opinion: Public-Sector Pension Crisis Worsens
Excerpt: "Like many of the remaining traditional defined-benefit pension plans in the private sector, government pension plans are swimming in red ink: ...." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

Connecticut Teachers Protest Pension Fund Shortfall
Excerpt: "Although state law requires the General Assembly to put the full amount into the pension fund every year, lawmakers have repeatedly passed budgets that override this requirement, putting only 66 percent to 85 percent of the recommended amount into the pension. For the 2006-07 fiscal year, for example, the state is depositing $286.6 million, or 70 percent of what is required, into the pension." (Greenwich Time)

Pension Pointers: Plain English Explanation of the ERISA Funding Rules (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "To ensure that a defined benefit pension plan has sufficient assets to pay benefits when participants retire, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code require the plan's sponsor to make minimum contributions to the pension plan." (American Benefits Council)

Japan Will Require Employers to Change Retirement Age
Excerpt: "In an effort to combat a declining labor force and to address other issues associated with an aging society, the Japanese government is implementing a new law to encourage employers to increase the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65 and to better coordinate the beginning of pension coverage with later retirement ages." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Major Japanese Banks to Let Staff Work Until Age 65+
Excerpt: "Major banking groups including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. will introduce systems this April to allow their staff to stay on the payroll until 65, well past the mandatory retirement age of 60, banking group officials said Thursday." (TMCnet)

A Market for Retirement Anxiety
Excerpt: "Many baby boomers are going through retirement anxiety, and seemingly everyone is marketing to that anxiety." (U.S. News & World Report)

A Tax-Efficient Approach for Retirement Investing
Excerpt: "Now that tax season is nearly over, let's talk strategy for next year. Here's an approach that takes a fresh look at retirement-portfolio allocation--not only by asset class or risk, but also by taxation. The key to making this strategy work? Pairing it with a low-cost variable annuity designed for fee-based advisers." (On Wall Street Magazine)

Opinion: The Debate Over Participant Retirement Plan Advice
Excerpt: "At the moment, the advice provisions in the two bills, S.1783 in the Senate and H.R.2830 in the House, are quite different. The House version is crafted by newly minted House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and, in most respects, is the same version he has been championing for several years. The Senate version is also largely recycled--albeit from previous efforts by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)." (On Wall Street Magazine)

Pension Pointers: Credit Rating Proposal in Pension Reform Bill (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "Under the Senate bill, a plan's liability will sharply balloon if the plan is determined to be 'at risk' based, in part, on a drop in the sponsoring employer's credit rating to below investment grade." (American Benefits Council)

Business Community Letter to Pension Reform Conferees on Hybrid Plans (PDF)
Excerpt: "The ... organizations write to share [their] views regarding how the provisions addressing hybrid pension plans should be resolved in a final pension conference agreement." (American Benefits Council)

Filter Out the 'Noise' When Evaluating Investment Strategies
Excerpt: "Some investors attempt to sort through the noise of investing by trying to isolate investment patterns. But basing strategies on patterns alone can border on superstition. Instead, developing a rationale that you can test is one of the most crucial skills in evaluating various investment strategies." (The Vanguard Group, Inc.)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Comments on a FASB Project to Reconsider Accounting for Pension Benefits and Other Benefits (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "On behalf of the American Academy of Actuaries' Committee on Pension Accounting, [William J. Sohn commends] the [Financial Accounting Standards Board] on its decision to pursue a thorough reconsideration, consistent with its other broad commitments, of pension and other postemployment benefit (OPEB) accounting, which in its current form lacks transparency." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Age Wave: Adapting to Older Workers
Excerpt: "The ranks of workers 55 and older are swelling, yet few employers have adjusted to meet the needs of this strategically important segment of the workforce. Researcher and author Ken Dychtwald says companies might want to start thinking about flexible schedules, ergonomics and enhanced opportunities for older workers before they lose vital expertise." (Workforce Management; one-time registration required)

Excerpt from and Link to Article on ERISA Section 510
Excerpt: "Kenni Merritt has written an article for the Oklahoma Bar Journal which is a primer on ERISA Section 510 claims: 'Interference with ERISA-Protected Rights: Making a Federal Case Out of a Wrongful Discharge Action.'" (Attorney B. Janell Grenier via BenefitsBlog.com)

Company Boards Want Paper Trail on Executive Pay
Excerpt: "Amid accusations that corporate directors have been rubber-stamping executive pay packages, board members are looking to create a paper trail that proves they're doing their homework." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated as of March 28, 2006
Excerpt: "Hewitt's Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans, retirement plans, and human resources and employment law." (Hewitt Associates)

New Section on Watsonwyatt.com Highlights Information for Global Businesses
Excerpt: "Watson Wyatt Worldwide has launched a special section on its web site that focuses on the needs of multinational companies. This new web resource highlights information on the current business issues that are playing out on the world stage -- ranging from global competition to offshore outsourcing, to cross-border mergers and acquisitions. It is designed to help multinational companies stay up-to-date with the key HR, compensation and benefits issues affecting their businesses today." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Plan Sponsors Can Use Transparent Bidding Procedures to Save on Their Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "All vendors had an opportunity to submit as many re-bids as they wished up to the close of the event. HighRoads compared the initial bid of each vendor with its final bid and compared the final bid of the winning vendor to the cost of the existing benefit plan. The survey results consolidated data from 46 RFPs for medical, dental, life and disability insurance. " (BenefitNews Connect)

Merrill Hit with NASD Complaint
Excerpt: "A Microsoft Corp. employee who allegedly lost $1 million because of advice to using 'unsuitable' leverage to buy shares of the computer company as part of an employee option program has filed an action with regulators." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2006 Boston Mid-Sized Pension Management Conference
in Massachusetts on May 7, 2006
presented by University Conference Services

COBRA Traps: Ten Common Problems and How to Address Them-- Lessons for Employers, Administrators, and Advisors
Nationwide on April 20, 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)

Spring Seminar
in Oregon on April 5, 2006
presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference - Portland Chapter

Update from Washington Co-sponsored with ABCNE
in Massachusetts on April 26, 2006
presented by WEB Worldwide Employee Benefits Network MA Chapter


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Two Step Software Knows How to Give Great Telephone Support: Move to Needham
(Two-Step Software, Inc.)

Two Step Founder Advises Legal Professionals to Include Client Corporate Records in Disaster Recovery Plans
(Two-Step Software, Inc.)

CFDD Announces Availability Of The APEX HealthCheck For Retirement Advisors
(Metrics Partners)

White Horse Advisors Hires New Team Member
(White Horse Advisors, LLC)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Consultant, Defined Contribution/Daily Valuation (DC/DV)
for Schloss, a BenefitStreet company
in NY

Implementation Specialist ~ Financial Services
for CitiStreet
in NJ

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for Pension Planning Consultants, Inc.
in NM

Small Plan Actuarial Consultant
for Pension Planning Consultants, Inc.
in NM

Health & Welfare Consultant
for Towers Perrin
in LOCATION OTHER THAN U.S., CA, CT, DC, GA, IL, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TX

Benefit Analyst
for Crews MacQuarrie & Associates, Inc.
in CA

Pension Administrator
for Stephen H. Rosen & Associates, Inc.
in NJ

Director of Benefits
for Skilled Healthcare, LLC
in CA

Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
for New York Life Investment Management LLC
in MA

Health Insurance Account Manager
for Great-West Healthcare
in WA

Retirement Services Account Manager 2
for SunTrust Banks, Inc.
in DC




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