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November 15, 2006
Today's sponsor: Cassidy Retirement Group

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Just published "A Manager's Guide to Strategic Retirement Plan Management"!

Daniel Cassidy, President of Cassidy Retirement Group, has written a detailed, comprehensive guide for managers to understand and succeed at the ongoing process of managing a company's retirement plan. If motivating your employees is important to you as a manager, this book is an essential key to your success. The book is available now through BenefitsLink Bookstore.

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

Text of ASPPA Comments on Proposed Regs on Default Investment Alternatives
Excerpt: "ASPPA requests clarification of several issues addressed in the Proposed Regulations on qualified default investment alternatives (QDIA), and guidance on certain issues not covered in the Proposed Regulations." (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

Text of American Bankers Association Comments on Proposed Regs on Default Investment Alternatives (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "[W]e request clarification: (1) That the prohibition on imposing financial penalties does not preclude compliance with SEC Rule 22c-2; (2) That bank trustees are not precluded from serving as investment manager of a QDIA; (3) That the 30-day notice requirement would not apply under certain limited circumstances (such as in the case of new hires) where such notice may not be practical; . . . ." (American Bankers Association)

Text of Pension Rights Center Comments on Proposed Regs on Default Investment Alternatives (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "[W]e believe that a notice to a participant that his or her assets have been placed in a qualified default investment alternative (QDIA) should be provided individually to the participant in a separate notice. The Summary Plan Document or Summary of Material Modification is an inadequate format . . . . [Any notice] should clearly state that the plan fiduciary may not be held responsible for investment performance of a QDIA established in accordance with legal requirements." (Pension Rights Center)

Text of Comments by U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Others on Proposed Regs on Default Investment Alternatives (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "We strongly agree that the proposed rule, in conjunction with other provisions of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, will encourage the adoption of automatic enrollment arrangements. While the Department estimates that annual contributions to 401(k) plans will increase by between $1.9 billion and $3.8 billion in 2005 dollars, our analysis indicates an even higher amount." (Profit Sharing / 401k Council of America, the United States Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers)

Text of American Benefits Council Comments on Proposed Regs on Default Investment Alternatives (PDF)
18 pages. Excerpt: "It is critical that the final regulations extend ERISA preemption of state anti-wage garnishment laws to a broader range of default investments. The Pension Protection Act preempts any applicable state law that would preclude an automatic enrollment arrangement but conditions this preemption on the plan investing automatic contributions according to the Department's default investment regulations." (American Benefits Council)

Overview: Default Investment Alternatives for Individual Account Plans (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Many questions remain open. How does a fiduciary transfer existing funds in the default investment fund to the new QDIA? What about plans that intend to use auto enrollment and in which participants have 90 days to request a refund of their contributions." (Alston & Bird LLP)

Opinion: 401(k)s OK, If You Like Dog Food
Excerpt: "The 401(k) - the investment vehicle that was supposed to revolutionize retirement planning - turns 25 today. How's it doing? Well, depends on whether you can retire on $60,000." (The Denver Post)

A Sensible Approach to Custom Target Retirement-Date Strategies (PDF)
12 pages. Excerpt: "Target retirement-date strategies in defined contribution (DC) plans are growing rapidly in both prevalence and assets. Many anticipate the Pension Protection Act of 2006 will further fuel their growth as this legislation specifies a qualified default-investment alternative as 'a mix of asset classes consistent with capital preservation or long-term capital appreciation, or a blend of both,' . . . ." (PIMCO via Winston & Strawn LLP)

Interview of a Winston & Strawn Partner About the PPA and Its Impact on Defined Contribution Plans (PDF)
12 pages. Excerpt: "[Discussed are] the safe harbors for automatic enrollment and qualified default investment funds as well as investment advice, company stock, and EGTRRA permanence." (PIMCO via Winston & Strawn LLP)

Smaller 401(k) Plans Offer Opportunities for Advisors
Excerpt: "The best opportunity for advisers in the 401(k) market currently is with companies that have less than $10 million in assets in their plans, according to industry experts. Trying to lure the business of midsize and larger companies isn't worth the risk for many advisers, said Bob Wuelfing, principal and managing director of RG Wuelfing & Associates in Simsbury, Conn." (Investment News; free registration required)

Opinion: 25 Years of 401(k) Mediocrity
Excerpt: "Call me a skeptic, but I've met a lot of individual investors and financial advisors in my travels, and the level of knowledge, even among those who are paying any attention, is, well, appalling. In the 401(k) business, you end up with a potent cocktail of this investor cluelessness paired with a generally horror-show lineup of investment options in the plans." (IndexUniverse)

10 Things Your 401(k) Provider Won't Tell You
Excerpt: "1. 'We're making a mint on your 401(k) -- even if you're not.' . . . . 2. 'You're buying wholesale, but we're charging you retail.'" (SmartMoney.com)

New Accounting Rule to Put Funding of Retirement Plans on the Balance Sheets
Excerpt: "The change shouldn't have any impact on sales and profits, the most widely watched indicators of a company's health. But it is likely to draw attention to shortfalls or increased costs spent on propping up these plans, which can fall into billion-dollar deficits when stock returns falter or interest rates drop." (MarketWatch)

Cash Balance Controversy Rages on As Courts Disagree Over Whether Plans Are Discriminatory
Excerpt: "JUST when the heated debate over age discrimination and cash balance plans appeared to have settled down with the Seventh Circuit's Cooper decision . . ., and the 2006 Pension Protection Act's 'legalization' of cash balance plans . . ., along comes a pair of cases from the Southern District of New York proving that nothing is so unsettled as 'settled' law." (Pension & Benefits Week via RIA News Briefings)

Retroactive Restoration of Benefits Is Required by Heinz
Excerpt: "A retirement plan was required to retroactively restore a participant's benefits because they were terminated in violation of ERISA's anti-cutback rule, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Central Laborers' Pension Fund v. Heinz . . ., according to the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York (CA-2)." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

A Lame-Duck Session Revival for Postal Service Overhaul?
Excerpt: "[Sen. Susan] Collins, in what many of the largest mailers consider a big victory, got the White House to sign off on changes that would permit military pensions earned by postal workers to be paid out of the Treasury. This means the pensions' costs would not be passed on to mailers in the form of higher rates." (The Washington Post; free registration required)

Access to Details of Two Pennsylvania Public Pension Funds Just Got Harder
Excerpt: "Senate Bill 592, signed by [Gov.] Rendell last week, allows the Public School Employees' Retirement System to refuse public access to information about private equity, real estate, and other 'alternative' investments if the private managers who handle the investment demand secrecy; if making the investments public could cause 'competitive harm'; or if disclosure might affect the value of the investment." (The Philadelphia Inquirer; free registration required)

New Jersey Legislative Panel Rethinking Retirement at 55 for Public Employees
Excerpt: "A bipartisan legislative panel is expected . . . to recommend raising the retirement age from 55 to 62 for new state workers and requiring all state employees to contribute more to their health insurance plans." (The Star-Ledger via NJ.com)

Hewitt's Global Retirement Update, November 2006 (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "[The] Global Retirement Update summarizes recent legislative developments and trends related to retirement and financial management and highlights recently passed and pending legislation that may require employers to take action to comply with new rules or review existing plans." (Hewitt Associates)

Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2006
Excerpt: "Fast Facts & Figures answers the most frequently asked questions about the programs SSA administers. It highlights basic program data for the Social Security (retirement, survivors, and disability) and Supplemental Security Income programs." (U.S. Social Security Administration)

Pension Plan Assets Increased to $4.2 Trillion in 2003, According to EBSA Report
Excerpt: "According to the EBSA, 'The total percent of employee contributions to defined benefit and defined contribution plans has actually fallen over the last five years, from 52% in 1999 to 38% in 2003." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Overview: Pension Protection Act of 2006 -- Provisions Effective in 2006 and 2007 (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "Compliance Tip: Under a defined benefit plan, for example, the notice may need to inform a participant that the participant could become eligible for an early retirement subsidy if a distribution were delayed for a few months or that the participant could be entitled to a lump sum calculated using a lower interest rate if a distribution were delayed." (Alston & Bird LLP)

Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement's Retirement Readiness Check-List
The target page poses six questions to ask yourself to see if you're really ready to retire. (WISER)

Issue in Brief: What Happens to Household Portfolios After Retirement?
Excerpt: "This brief examines what happens to household portfolios after retirement. It analyzes how portfolios evolve with age and how health shocks such as the death of a spouse or a heart attack or stroke affect the composition of household portfolios. The data come from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), using data from 1992-2002." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Retirement Savings Gets a Mascot
Excerpt: "The lead character in a series of public service announcements sponsored by the Employee Benefit Retirement Institute (EBRI) wears green tights, red shorts, a cape and goes by the name of 'Savingsman.'" (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview of the New Proxy Pension Benefits Table
Excerpt: "Many public companies are now drafting their proxies and dealing with the new proxy disclosure rules. One of the tables for many companies is the Pension Benefits Table. For each named executive officer, this table needs to list on a separate line each qualified defined benefit plan as well as each nonqualified defined benefit plan such as a SERP that the officer participates in." (BNA Pension & Benefits Blog)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Interactive COBRA Seminar (webcast) 2pm est- 3pm est for three successive weeks
Nationwide on December 6, 2006
presented by HRTrainingCenter.com


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Disconnect Between Employers, Employees Threatens Loss of Key Workers, Watson Wyatt Finds
(Watson Wyatt)

PBGC Releases Fiscal Year 2006 Financial Results
(Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC))

Default Investment Regulations Sweep Far Beyond Auto-Enrollment
(ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee))


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Tax/Employee Benefits Attorney
for Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP
in NY

401(k) Administrator
for BMI
in MO

Sr Communications Consultant
for T. Rowe Price
in MD

Senior Pension Calculations Analyst
for Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.
in IL

401K Sales Manager
for Payroll Associates, LLC
in NJ

Employee Benefits Health and Welfare Attorney
for Krieg DeVault LLP
in IL, IN, KY, MI, WI

Retirement Specialist
for Memorial Hermann
in TX

Pension Administrator
for California Retirement Plans, Inc.
in CA

401(k) Plan Technician/Administrator
for Pension Administrative Services, Inc. (PASI)
in CT

Business Systems Consultant
for Wells Fargo
in MN

Internal Wholesaler
for The Phoenix Companies
in CT




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