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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter

April 29, 2013          Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Account Management Positions, Retirement Plans
for Cammack LaRhette Consulting in NY

Sr. Employee Benefits Trust Officer
for Industry Leader in Retirement Plan Services in PA

Client Success Specialist
for The Online 401(k) in CA

Manager of Retirement Services
for McCamish Systems an Infosys Company in GA

Benefit Consultant
for TPA in Champaign, Illinois in IL

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Webcasts and Conferences

Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program Workshop
June 12, 2013
(U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)) in CA

"Form 5500 Workshop 2013: Issues and Answers" - Cincinnati
May 29, 2013
(SunGard Relius) in OH

"401(k) Plan Workshop 2013: Tax Reform and the 401(k) Plan" - Cincinnati
May 30, 2013
(SunGard Relius) in OH

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[Official Guidance]

IRS VCP Submission Kit for Plan Sponsors Who Missed the April 30, 2012, Deadline to Adopt a Pre-Approved Defined Benefit Plan (PDF)
"This kit guides you through the steps in filing a submission for a VCP compliance statement. It includes instructions and a sample submission correctly completed. It's designed for sponsors that: [1] maintained a pre-approved defined benefit plan but failed to adopt a new plan document by April 30, 2012, and [2] are correcting the failure by adopting a pre-approved defined benefit plan that reflects the provisions of EGTRRA." (Internal Revenue Service)


ASPPA's Spring Exam Deadline is May 16th!

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[Guidance Overview]

Anticutback Relief for Certain ESOPs with Publicly Traded Stock (PDF)
"[P]lan sponsors can choose a 2013 effective date that can be implemented operationally and then adopt amendments shortly thereafter. Diversification distributions made in the period before the amendment is adopted would not have to be corrected under [EPCRS]." (Buck Consultants)

Fee Disclosure Rule Spurring Searches for DC Record Keepers
"Record keepers say ... the regulations have prompted plan executives to ask more questions about reducing the role of revenue sharing, in which all or most of a record keeper's costs are offset by a plan's investments. And although record keepers wouldn't discuss their fee strategies, some surveys indicate the regulations have contributed to lower fees." (Pensions & Investments)

Adjustable Pension Plan Design Begins to Gain Converts
"The plan design shares the investment risk between employees and employers while providing more retirement income security than a typical defined contribution plan.... Under [one such] plan, participants will receive either a guaranteed floor benefit or the adjustable benefit tied to investment performance, whichever is greater.... What differentiates the adjustable plan from a cash balance plan is that the cash balance plan benefit is determined by a benchmark such as 10-year Treasuries; the adjustable plan's benefit depends on actual investment performance of the plan." (Pensions & Investments)

The New Hybrid DC Plans in Corporate America
"Where better plans differentiate themselves from good plans is in what comes next [after automatic enrollment]: the default contribution rate itself, and the choice of QDIA.... [M]any large plans are beginning to see their way clear to moving toward double-digit contribution rates by auto-escalating participants either at every pay rise or on an annual basis, and many have also pushed the starting default rate higher, to 5% or 6% from 3%." (aiCIO)


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Another Scary Withdrawal Liability Case Imposes Personal Liability on Owner of Withdrawing Company
"If the owners of the withdrawing business also own the real estate from which the withdrawing company does business, those owners are very likely to be personally liable for the withdrawal liability amount. This case also establishes that because Nagy worked as an independent contractor to an unrelated business, his work as an independent contractor (essentially as a sole proprietor) also qualified as an unincorporated 'trade or business' that triggered personal liability." [Central States, Southeast and Southwest Pension Fund v. Nagy, No. 11-3055 (7th Cir. Apr. 22, 2013)] (James E. Arnold & Associates, LPA)

Before It's Too Late: A Retirement Security Newsletter from Phyllis Borzi, April 29, 2013
"'The Retirement Gamble' took a look at some of the reasons so many Americans are financially unprepared for retirement.... [M]uch of the program is spent profiling regular Americans who are trying to get by and doing the best that they can to prepare for an uncertain future. The show clearly outlines the challenges faced by people trying to navigate an opaque, fractured, and confusing system." (U.S. Departments of Labor)

Girl Scouts Ask Congress for a Do-Over on Pension Plan Exemption
"In 2010, Congress ... allowed the few charity plans with multiple entities such as the Girl Scouts to follow pre-PPA pension funding rules until 2017. But later that year the Girls Scouts were forced to freeze the pension plan as investment losses suffered during the 2007-09 recession and low discount rates caused the funding level to plummet to 63% ... Today, the plan has $433 million in assets and $819 million in liabilities." (Pensions & Investments)

Five Forces Will Drive the Next Phase of the Financial Planning Industry's Evolution
"1. Fewer new millionaire households with more firms competing for them.... 2. Aging client bases with higher capital consumption.... 3. Possible prolonged period of low return on lower-risk assets.... 4. Operating costs accelerating at a rate higher than inflation in general.... 5. Aging Founders." (Financial Advisor)

Why Aren't Checklists a Financial Planning Standard?
"[F]inancial planning for individuals with a nearly infinite range of situations entails tremendous complexity, to the point where it's not clear if anyone could really remember every possible question to ask or step to take ... [T]he greatest challenge is simply that we need to build our financial planning checklists -- a challenging and time-intensive process. Yet perhaps this is an opportunity for the financial planning community to band together and build something collectively." (Nerd's Eye View)

Fund Manager Survey Highlights Need for Agility
"[F]und managers expected that equities were likely to offer pension funds the best returns during 2013. Global equities were expected to be the top performer according to 31% of those polled.... [N]early a quarter (24%) predicted that emerging market equities would finish as the best performer for the year, ahead of other regions, even though they had a weak start to the year with marginal falls in the first quarter." (Aon Hewitt)

Making the Most of 401(k) Accounts
"[S]ome 35 years since their inception, 401(k) plans have been harshly criticized for failing to close ... a $6.6 trillion difference between what people have saved and what they need to save for retirement. ... [T]he overwhelming majority of participants in defined-contribution plans are neither professional money managers nor especially investment-savvy, putting them at a severe disadvantage when it comes to deciding how they will invest for their retirement years." (Investment News; free registration required)

PBGC Seeks Involuntary Plan Termination before Plan Sponsor's Proposed Share Sale
This complaint demonstrates PBGC's willingness to seek involuntary plan terminations when it is unable to negotiate additional contributions or other security for underfunded defined benefit plans within the context of corporate transactions, even when the plan sponsor will continue as a going concern after an arms-length transaction." (Proskauer's ERISA Practice Section Blog)

New York City Pension Plans Sue BP Over Deepwater Horizon Losses
"'BP failed to disclose to shareowners the serious risks involved in its offshore drilling operation,' New York City Comptroller John Liu said ... 'After the spill began, it misleadingly attempted to minimize the extent of the damage and the cost to shareowners.' ... [A] spokesman for Mr. Liu, said ... that the pension plans owned 2.82 million shares of BP stock worth $19.3 million as of April 15 this year." (Pensions & Investments)

SEC Enforcement Focus Shifts to Dodd-Frank Compliance
"[I]nvestigators are pursuing issues such as the role of fiduciaries who are responsible for setting up internal safeguards against fraud and improper risk taking. The shift in focus comes as the agency wraps up cases linked to the credit market turmoil of 2008[.]" (Treasury & Risk)

Pension Loans Drive Retirees Into More Debt
"[T]hese offers, known as pension advances, are having devastating financial consequences for a growing number of older Americans, threatening their retirement savings and plunging them further into debt. The advances, federal and state authorities say, are not advances at all, but carefully disguised loans that require borrowers to sign over all or part of their monthly pension checks. They carry interest rates that are often many times higher than those on credit cards." (The New York Times)

Dietrich Pension Risk Transfer Index Fell in March
"The Dietrich Pension Risk Transfer Index fell slightly, from 86.98 in March to 86.61 on April 1, 2013 -- a change Dietrich attributed to declining interest rates. The index tracks the relative attractiveness of annuitizing pension liabilities, and was designed as a mechanism for pension stakeholders to monitor settlement market conditions." (PLANSPONSOR.com)

Interview with PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum on Bankruptcy, Saving Pensions and Singing
"Everybody's first reaction is, I'm in bankruptcy and need to get rid of as many commitments as possible. But we tell companies that we are the largest unsecured creditor if a plan is terminated and you need to consider whether you want to, or even need to, add to your unsecured claims. And we ask companies whether they have considered the consequences to their employees." (Thomson Reuters)

At the Corner of Main and Wall Street: Family Pension Responses to Liquidity Change and Perceived Returns
"[P]articipation in and contributions to defined contribution pensions rose prior to the recessions of 2001-2002 and 2008-2009, and then declined during the recessions.... Low wealth, low income and out-of-pocket medical expenses were predictors of reduced contributions and of overall pension withdrawals by families. Mortgage distress measures also predicted pension fund withdrawals." (University of Michigan Retirement Research Center)

A Tactical Action Plan to Improve Retirement Readiness (PDF)
"The base of a successful defined contribution plan pyramid is built on the basics: diverse investment options, daily pricing, online participant access, and recordkeeper or third-party administrator relationships. Once the basics are in place, the pyramid builds upon itself to a focus on the 'three Fs' -- or funds, fees, and fiduciary best practices." (CAPTRUST Financial Advisors)

What Gen X Doesn't Know About Social Security
"Members of Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1976, are planning to collect Social Security at an average age of 65, according to a recent survey.... [But] Gen Xers who sign up for Social Security at age 65, as 29 percent plan to do, will see their monthly payments reduced by about 13.3 percent." (U.S.News and World Report)

Cypen & Cypen Newsletter, April 25, 2013
Selected topics include: [1] A misguided "solution" to a nonexistent problem with the Florida public employee retirement plans; [2] Milliman revised study of the Florida Retirement System reflects 30-year projection of open defined benefit plan and impact of closing the defined benefit plan to new members; [3] The retirement gamble -- why you cannot afford to retire; and [4] When pension systems are under pressure, you need to look at the backstop. (Cypen & Cypen)

Investment Decisions in Retirement: The Role of Subjective Expectations
"[A] model with heterogeneous subjective expectations about stock market returns is able to account for low stock market participation, and tracks the share of risky assets conditional on participation reasonably well.... [T]here is considerable scope for welfare improvement as a result of consumer education regarding stock market returns." (University of Michigan Retirement Research Center)

Rich Retirees Should Pay Back State Benefits, U.K. Ministers Say
"Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the benefits, which include a winter fuel allowance, subsidized bus travel and free TV licenses, would not be cut and urged those who didn't need them to return them. Minister without portfolio and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Ken Clarke said they should give the money to charity." (Bloomberg)

Kodak Hands Camera Film Business to U.K. Retirees
"Kodak will hand over to the U.K. Kodak Pension Plan, its largest creditor, its 'personalized imaging' and 'document imaging' businesses ... The pensioners will then be able to either run the businesses or sell them as they see fit. Kodak will no longer owe the pensioners $2.8 billion[.]" (MarketWatch.com)


Text of Comments to SEC on Duties of Brokers, Dealers, and Investment Advisers (PDF)
"The Commission can end this ongoing debate once and for all by putting an end to what is known as dual registration, the practice in which brokers and investment advisers are cross licensed. We believe that brokerage and advisory activities should be separated and clearly defined to investors, with no overlap." (Association of Independent Investors)


Taxing Pensions and 401(k)s
"The challenge in retirement programs is not that employees are saving too much, it is that they are contributing too little, or not participating at all, while many employers don't offer retirement plans. The administration should focus on bolstering the retirement security of lower-level income participants and employees who lack coverage. It should scrap its proposed restrictions on retirement-plan accumulations." (Pensions & Investments)


Squeezing Retirees Into Pension Poverty?
"Regulators need to be extremely vigilant as these firms peddling pension loans are sprouting up all over the United States.... [I]t's as if we learned nothing from the whole sub-prime debacle. Here you have a classic example of yet another foray into sub-prime lending using pension loans. All that's missing is for banks and brokerages to collateralize all these loans and some rating agency to rate the different tranches." (Pension Pulse)


Handle with Care: Creating a Fiduciary Standard
"Effective investor protection and new disclosure requirements aren't always the same thing. In practical terms, a uniform fiduciary standard is likely to present new disclosure requirements for independent broker-dealers and investment advisers." (Investment News; free registration required)


The PBS Frontline Report on 401(k) Plans
"If the people in the industry try to pretend that nothing is wrong with the 401(k) plan industry, then they are only fooling themselves. There needs to be some sort of standard where a financial advisor doesn't get a bigger trail by pushing a specific fund. There needs to be a simple disclosure of all plan expenses and fees ... [T]he biggest problem in the 401(k) plan business isn't the mutual fund companies; it's the lack of any good investment education and/or advice for plan participants." (The Rosenbaum Law Firm, P.C.)


Employer-Sponsored Retirement System Provides Benefits and Protections for Employees
"Employees who do not contribute to their employer savings plan have an average retirement savings shortfall of 10.8 times pay, compared to a shortfall of just 2.2 times pay for the full-career contributor. For the average employee making $70,000, that equates to a savings shortfall of $756,000 at retirement.... [T]he employer-sponsored retirement system offers employees security and resources they cannot get if they go it alone in the individual market." (Aon Hewitt)


'The Retirement Gamble' Gambit
"The framing of the retirement 'gamble' was that 'it used to be much easier,' in 1972 when, the Frontline report states, '42 percent of employees had a pension'. But one point the Frontline report ignores (as do many general media reports on this topic) is that there's a huge difference between working at an employer that offers a pension plan ... and actually collecting a pension based on that employment." (Nevin Adams via EBRI)


FINRA's Failure: It Is Not a 'Professional Regulatory Organization'
"Why is a true Professional Regulatory Organization for financial planners and investment advisers important as a long-term goal? By maintaining and enhancing the professional standards of its members over time, the services of its members become more attractive to the public, fueling demand for the services of its members. The standards that are adopted must serve the public interest." (Ron Rhoades, via Scholarly Financial Planner)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Roundtable Discussion: The Evolving Governance Model for the Say-on-Pay Era
"As public companies prepare to hold their annual meetings and shareholders weigh in on how executives are compensated, the governance of compensation programs looms large. Five Towers Watson executive compensation experts talk about the issues being discussed in boardrooms and compensation committee meetings as companies prepare for the proxy season." (Towers Watson)

Press Releases

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