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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter

May 14, 2013          Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Technical Research Consultant
for Transamerica Retirement Solutions Corporation in NY

401(k) Administrator
for The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America in MA

DC Plan Administrator
for MPH Pension Consultants, LLC in TX

ERISA QRP Specialist
for Ascensus in MN

Executive Assistant
for Benefit Equity Inc in CA

Retirement Plan Document Specialist
for Pension Consulting Firm in MA, NH

Client Service Manager - Retirement Plan Services
for John Hancock Financial Services in MA

Non-Qualified Benefits Coordinator
for JPMorgan in KS

Retirement Plan Service Specialist
for Growing Firm in CO

Retirement Plan Service Specialist - Part-time
for Growing Firm in CO

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Webcasts and Conferences

Running an Effective Board
July 2, 2013
(National Center for Employee Ownership) WEBCAST

Communicating Valuation: Tools, Tips and Examples
July 9, 2013
(National Center for Employee Ownership) WEBCAST

Employee Communication and Education:
June 26, 2013
(National Center for Employee Ownership) WEBCAST

2nd Annual Retirement & Benefits Compliance Customer Conference
August 4, 2013
(Wolters Kluwer Law & Business) in IL

Issues, Concerns and Solutions in Auditing 403(b) Plans
May 23, 2013
(Western Pension & Benefits Council - Orange County Chapter) in CA

View All Webcasts and Conferences


[Guidance Overview]

EBSA Considering Rule on Lifetime Income for Plan Benefit Statements (PDF)
"Although over 700 comments have been reviewed on this topic since 2010, EBSA is seeking further comments on this new proposal, to be received no later than July 8, 2013.... The agency has suggested the possibility that it might stop short of issuing actual regulations on lifetime income streams if it can find an alternate means of achieving its objective. However, it is widely believed that EBSA will not allow a purely voluntary delivery of lifetime income projections to plan participants and beneficiaries." (Ascensus)


Great Lakes Benefits Conference in Chicago, June 13-14!

Sponsored by ASPPA

The Great Lakes Benefits Conference provides an opportunity to discuss employee benefit issues with colleagues and local, regional and national government representatives from the IRS and DOL.

California's State-Run Retirement Program for Private Employees vs. the 'Retirement Tsunami'
"The California program aims to create an effortless savings vehicle for an underserved population. Three-quarters of eligible workers make less than $46,420 per year, putting them into a demographic that relies heavily on Social Security in retirement. The new law won't end reliance on Social Security, but it could provide workers with additional financial security. The program is designed to be privately run and managed, ideally at no cost to the state." (The Atlantic)

Another Business Owner Caught by Withdrawal Liability
"The Seventh Circuit ... declared a bright-line rule that where the owner of a withdrawing business leases property to that business, the leasing activity qualifies as a trade or business. If that trade or business is owned personally by the owner of the withdrawing business, the leasing activities and the withdrawing business would be aggregated under the controlled group rules and both would be responsible for the withdrawal liability assessment. In this case, ... the business owner personally was responsible for the $3.6 million withdrawal liability." [Central States Southeast and Southwest Pension Fund v. Nagy, No. 11-3055 (7th Cir. Apr. 22, 2013)] (Leonard, Street and Deinard)

Top Five Actions Employers Can Take to Help Employees Become Super Savers for Retirement (PDF)
"Drive employee participation in the plan and encourage contribution increases over time.... Encourage employees to use resources that help evaluate retirement readiness.... Offer target date solutions that automate investment decisions.... Use proactive communications that motivate employees to take appropriate action.... Use leadership and centers of influence to promote retirement savings." (Transamerica Retirement Solutions)

PBGC: How We Are Changing the Narrative on Retirement Security
"By changing the way we think about our mission and do our jobs, we are able to produce different outcomes that actually enhance retirement security. In the cases of American Airlines and Hawker Beechcraft, PBGC turned conventional wisdom upside-down by beginning with the end of the story in mind, doing what many thought impossible or at the least very unlikely.... None of these successes would have been possible if we narrowly viewed our mission as being the place where pension plans come to die when businesses go bust." (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation)

IRS Final Report on 401(k) Compliance Check Questionnaire (PDF)
"The Final Report explains the sample selection and analysis methods and provides the response to each question by percentage of plans, plan sponsors, or participants. It also includes stratified data based on plan size and a section on Automatic Contribution Arrangements. The findings will be used to gain a better understanding of the health and compliance behaviors of 401(k) plans and to better allocate IRS resources to foster voluntary 401(k) plan compliance." (ING)

Detroit Emergency Manager Might 'Suggest Modifications' to Two City Pension Plans
"Detroit's two public pension funds are under intense scrutiny and might undergo structural changes to reduce the unfunded pension liabilities.... What is not clear ... is the true funded status of the $2.77 billion Detroit General Retirement System and the $3.4 billion Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System." (Pensions & Investments)

Pension Finance Watch, April 2013
"The impact of a significant decline in long bond yields was only partially offset by positive investment results. As a result, the Towers Watson Pension Index fell 1.6% in April to 66.0. Even with this month's decline, the index value remains up 5.9% for the year." (Towers Watson)

Modelling and Management of Longevity Risk
Presentation slides by Andrew Cairns of Heriot-Watt University, and The Maxwell Institute, Edinburgh. Excerpt: "What is longevity risk? The risk that a group of pensioners survive, in aggregate, for longer than anticipated. Objectives of work: [1] Stochastic modelling of future mortality [including] multiple populations; [2] Longevity risk measurement; [3] Reserving for longevity risk; [4] Longevity risk management." (Pension Research Council, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; free registration required)

The Language of Savings
"The relatively new field of behavioral economics which blends micro-economics and psychology is being used to help employees make better decisions about their 401(k) plans.... [T]he underlying process of helping employees save for retirement is about communication -- which is to say, the language we use.... Recent research... goes to that very concept when [it] added the linguistic dimension to how and why people make savings decisions." (The Retirement Plan Blog)

Ten Steps to Setting Up an ESOP
"From engaging your ESOP consultant to rolling out the plan to your employees, this ten step process will help guide you through the key steps to implement an ESOP." (Principal Financial Group)

Massachusetts Probes Firms Seeking to Buy Pension Income Streams
"The inquiry letters seek information on whether the company does business in Massachusetts; how and by whom it is marketed; whether Massachusetts residents have been contacted; as well as information needed to determine if the future income streams have been securitized." (Boston Herald)

New York State Pension Value Rises to Record High $160.4 Billion
"The value of the New York state pension fund rose to a record $160.4 billion in year ending March 31, recovering after the financial crisis wiped out almost one-third of its assets ... The New York State Common Retirement Fund, which provides benefits to almost 1 million state and local workers and their beneficiaries, had an estimated 10.4 percent rate of return in fiscal 2013[.]" (Bloomberg)

Economic Indicators to Include Focus on Pensions
"The goal of enhancing transparency about employer-provided defined benefit retirement plans is laudable. However, in reading the fine print, one wonders if the opposite will occur and users of post-implementation data will be more confused." (Pension Risk Matters)

Preview of the 2013 Comprehensive Revision of the National Income and Product Accounts: Changes in Definitions and Presentations (PDF)
"To measure pension entitlements when they are accrued, BEA will adopt the accrual accounting approach for measuring pension income, relying on actuarial estimates of pension costs In implementing the accrual approach, BEA will treat defined benefit pension plans as 'pass-through' entities that are effectively owned by the household sector and will classify these plans as financial corporations that receive contributions and property income on behalf of plan participants but do not have income or saving of their own." (Bureau of Economic Affairs)

Technical Progress, Sorting, and Early Retirement
"Technological progress has been shown to affect early retirement via two opposite forces. On the one hand, it increases real wages and, therefore, creates incentives to delay retirement. On the other hand, it causes an erosion of workers' skills, which raises the probability of early retirement." (Working Papers in Economics, Universitat de Barcelona via SSRN)

FTSE350 Pension Deficits Rise Above 100bn GBP
"[T]he accounting deficit of defined benefit pension [plans] for the UK companies increased over the month of April.... [T]he estimated aggregate IAS19 deficit for the defined benefit [plans] of the FTSE350 companies stood at 108bn GBP (equivalent to a funding ratio of 84%) at 30 April 2013." (Mercer)


On the Future Size of Investment Advisory Firms Under a Fiduciary Standard
"If and when the fiduciary standard of conduct is provided to the delivery of all financial planning and investment advisory services, we shall become much closer to a true profession. And we need only look to other professions for the likely type of firms which will emerge. Most lawyers and certified public accountants practice in small firms. Why? First, because economically they can. Second, because like so many Americans, they are entrepreneurial.... While large firms may emerge, I suspect that given the entrepreneurial spirit and independence sought by many financial and investment advisors, smaller firms will continue to dominate the RIA world." (Ron Rhoades, via Scholarly Financial Planner)


401(k) Plan Sponsors, Star Trek and Fiduciary Duty
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. If Kirk and Spock were investment advisers who abided by the fiduciary standard, that line could form their firm's motto. It states, very simply, what it means to answer to the call of fiduciary duty." (Fiduciary News)


In Soccer and Investing, Bias Is Toward Action
"We all know that once you build a low-cost, diversified portfolio, you should avoid making changes every other day. We've heard Warren Buffett say things like, 'Benign neglect, bordering on sloth, remains the hallmark of our investment process.' We know that time in the market is the key, not timing the market.... Everyone else is moving, trading, talking. Why not us? It's what investing is all about, right? Wrong." (The New York Times)


Employers Face Looming Litigation Threat from 401(k) Plan Loan Defaults
"The dramatic increase in pension leakage is a very bad omen for employers and fiduciaries. It signals that a broader cross section of American families has been adversely affected. This fact -- plus the increasing availability of optional death, disability and unemployment protection as a plan loan feature -- make fiduciary claims disproportionately more likely as time goes on. In fact, as a candidate for the next breach-of-fiduciary-duty cause du jour, pension leakage has a lot going for it." (Pensions & Investments)


Text of Comments by Alder Financial Group to SEC on Duties of Brokers, Dealers and Investment Advisers
"On the surface its easy to equate [broker-dealers and investment advisors] as they both aim to provide investment advice to the public. In practice, however, the sales relationship between B/Ds and their customers and the fee-only relationship between RIAs and their clients are fundamentally different in almost every way.... [T]rying to regulate these two businesses under one set of rules would be unworkable, place a huge recordkeeping burden on RIAs and ultimately not do anything to protect the investing public." (Securities and Exchange Commission)


PBS Frontline's 'The Retirement Gamble' Got 401(k)s Right
"[T]he following are key things to consider whether you are an employer offering a 401(k) or an employee investing in one: [1] Costs Matter: Keep investment fees low as it can help keep more money invested in the markets versus in the hands of financial providers.... [2] Over the long-term, few professionally managed funds (known as actively-managed funds) outperform its peer market index.... [3] Choose a provider that takes on a fiduciary responsibility with your 401(k): This simply means use a provider that agrees in writing to act in your company's 401(k) plan's best interest." (Avik Roy, in Forbes)


Public K-12 Defined Contribution Plans: Single vs. Multi-Vendor Debate
"[VALIC's] belief is that there is no 'right' plan construct for all public K-12 employers. We believe the decision on the correct defined contribution structure should be made locally by school boards and in the context of the overall benefits package offered to employees. This paper will more deeply explore the single- vs. multi-vendor debate and propose that employer engagement is a key feature of successful plans under either structure." (VALIC)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Sutardja Decision Shows Employers How to Preserve Stock Option Flexibility In a 409A World
"What's surprising isn't so much the court's decision, but that the IRS chose this particular fact pattern to assess Code Section 409A penalties.... [I]n order to grant options that provide this type of flexibility, employers need to follow detailed stock option grant requirements under the Code Section 409A regulations. This lesson may be harsh for the executive in Sutardja considering that most of those requirements hadn't been written yet, but it gives the rest of us a chance to learn from those mistakes." (Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP)

Press Releases

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