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

Retirement Plan Administrator (Trust/Fund Specialist)
The Huntington National Bank
in OH

Benefit Services Specialist
Northwestern Benefit Corporation of Georgia
in GA

Relationship Manager
Verisight, Inc.
in IL

Client Service Consultant
Dedicated Defined Benefit Services
in CA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Overview of Cross-testing
November 8, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

Designated Roth Accounts and Roth Conversions
November 12, 2013 WEBCAST
(McKay Hochman Co., Inc.)

Rocky Mountain Benefit Plans Conference
November 13, 2013 in CO
(Innovest Portfolio Solutions)

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  LinkedIn   Twitter   Facebook Hand-picked links to the web's best news articles,
official guidance, jobs, webcasts and more.

IRS Advisory Committee Asks Practitioners and Service-Providers to Participate in Confidential Survey About Pre-Approved Retirement Plan Documents
The Employee Plans subgroup of the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities is conducting its 2013/2014 project on the IRS pre-approved retirement plan program, focusing on ways to expand and improve the current program and encourage use of pre-approved plan documents. As part of the project, the ACT has prepared a short, confidential online survey to solicit retirement practitioner/service-provider feedback. The survey does not require that respondents to identify themselves, and all responses go directly to the ACT members, and not to the IRS. Click here to take the survey. (Employee Plans Subcommittee, IRS Advisory Committee on Tax-Exempt and Government Entities (ACT))  


TPA Business Owners: What can you do better in your business?

Sponsored by NIPA (National Institute of Pension Administrators)

Position your firm for success in 2014 and beyond by joining 100+ TPA business owners at NIPA's Business Management Conference. Identify ways to effectively drive growth and efficiency by addressing challenges affecting your firm and day-to-day work.

Bill to Slow DOL Fiduciary Duty Rule Headed for House Vote
"The House is scheduled to vote [today, October 29] on legislation that would slow or even kill a [DOL] regulation to strengthen investment advice rules governing retirement plans. The measure ... would prohibit the [DOL] from proposing the rule ... until 60 days after the [SEC] adopts a separate rule that would raise standards for brokers providing retail investment advice.... [E]ven if the Senate doesn't act, the House vote will send a message, according to [Brian Graff, CEO of the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries]." (InvestmentNews)  

Obama Threatens to Veto Bill to Delay DOL Fiduciary Duty Rule
"President Barack Obama has threatened to veto a bill that would halt -- or possibly kill -- a Labor Department regulation designed to strengthen investment advice standards for retirement plans.... 'The administration is committed to ensuring that American workers and retirees are able to receive advice about how to invest their money in safe, secure and transparent financial products that is free from harmful conflicts of interest,' the Office of Management and Budget said in a policy statement." (InvestmentNews)  

Delaware Developer's Guilty Plea in 401(k) Theft May Bring Jail Term
"Michael A. Stortini, 52, of Frank Robino Companies LLC, admitted to diverting more than $600,000 from an employee 401(k) pension account to pay business expenses, and failing to pay over $450,000 in payroll taxes to the Internal Revenue Service for two years.... Stortini announced the firm was ending the 401(k) plan, but instead of transferring assets back to employees, he diverted money to cover company expenses." (DelawareOnline)  

Coming Soon from a 401(k) Plan Sponsor Near You: A New and Improved Focus on Participant Education
"At the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, Rick Rodgers and Susan Simoneaux offered their thoughts on how to create a new and improved emphasis on 401k participant education.... It all begins with the premise that the 401k industry is shifting away from emphasizing investments and back towards emphasizing savings.... 'The primary focus of most participant education is dedicated to the accumulation of assets. When a demographic analysis reveals a large or growing number of participants over age 55, I think it makes sense to include a pre-retirement workshop' [said Rogers]." (Fiduciary News)  


Best Strategies for Managing Your Assets and Liabilities

Sponsored by Financial Research Associates, LLC

Attend FRA's Pension De-Risking Summit to hear from plan sponsors on different approaches and options plan sponsors should consider when implementing a de-risking plan. January 20-21, 2014 - New York City. Mention FMP164 during registration for 10% discount.

California Agencies Gamble on Pension Bonds to Cover Debts -- and Lose
"Some public officials and investment bankers have portrayed pension obligation bonds as a good way to shore up pension funds. The proceeds can be invested in the stock market, reaping returns potentially higher than the bonds' interest rate. But that gamble is not panning out so far for at least five pension obligation bonds issued by California public agencies between 1999 and January[.]" (NBC Bay Area)  

Ohio Public Officials Defend Practice of Double Dipping
"While some officials believe the term 'double dipping' should be limited to the practice of retiring from a public job, collecting a public pension and returning to the same job, often in the same week, [the authors] at Northeast Ohio Media Group define a double dipper as someone who collects a public pension while on the public payroll.... [W]e offered a dozen current and former elected officials who fit that description to defend the practice." (Cleveland Plain Dealer)  

Applying EPCRS: What Does 'Under Examination' Mean?
"IRS corrections rules are now based on long experience, and have quite a measure of sophistication and nuance (built of experience) baked into them.... It really shows up in the practical application of the rules. Consider EPCRS' 'Under Examination' rules. If a plan is 'Under Examination' it generally cannot take advantage of the more favorable VCP; and SCP is limited -- meaning the plan sponsor would need to rely upon the more expensive Audit Cap to fix the problems. Applying the 'Under Examination' rules really are interesting, and demonstrates the nuance." (Business of Benefits)  

Cypen & Cypen Newsletter, October 24, 2013
Article titles include: Public Plans Report Increasing Confidence, Lower Costs, Growing Returns; Corporate Pensions Funding Ratio Exceeds 91% -- Highest Since 2008; Illinois Senate President Says State's Public Pension Debt Is Not A Crisis. (Cypen & Cypen)  

Thousands of Federal Employees Withdrew Retirement Investments During Shutdown
"Nearly 3,000 more feds withdrew from their Thrift Saving Plans during the shutdown than did in October of 2012 ... Employees who made the withdrawals had to prove negative monthly cash flow or extraordinary new expenses, such as medical or legal bills, and are now banned from contributing to their accounts for six months. This means they will also lose their agency's matching contributions for that time period." (Government Executive)  

Detroit's Two Public Employee Pension Funds Sue a Third Fund Over Hotel Debt Repayment
"The two Detroit public retirement systems [have] filed a lawsuit ... against the Carpenters' Pension Trust Fund-Detroit and Vicinity, accusing the pension fund of a scheme to move to the head of the line for loan repayment related to a financing deal with the Westin-Book Cadillac Hotel project.... The lawsuit ... claims the carpenters' pension fund jumped six levels of lenders, and that the overall project was deprived of $16.7 million intended to ensure payment of the loans." (Pensions & Investments)  

Evaluating Target Date Investment Performance (PDF)
"[U]nlike traditional asset class funds, target date funds represent a complex series of portfolios with shifting asset class exposures that are designed to achieve investment objectives over a long time horizon.... [P]erformance analysis is naturally difficult. However, with the right metrics, investment committees can make informed decisions about the efficacy of their TDF funds results and understand the core drivers of returns. This paper provides a framework for breaking down TDF results into a few key components and evaluating each component on its unique role." (Russell Investments)  

Tax Compliance Challenges for IRA Owners and Providers: Does the IRS/Treasury Priority Guidance Plan Offer Some Hope? (PDF)
"Until IRA guidance is significantly updated and simplified, IRA owners and providers will continue to face a wide range of complex compliance issues. [This article summarizes] tax compliance issues that, based on [the author's] experience, commonly create challenges for IRA owners and providers, including compliance issues resulting from errors by qualified or other tax-favored plans themselves." (Groom Law Group via Bloomberg BNA Pension & Benefits Daily)  

Detroit Pension Cuts Were Inevitable, City Consultant Testifies
"[C]ity financial consultant Kenneth Buckfire [testified that] it was clear that the city did not have the funds to pay the unsecured pension payouts without cutting them. 'It was a function of the mathematics,' said Buckfire, who said he did not think it was necessary for him or anyone else to recommend pension cuts to Orr. 'Are you saying it was so self-evident that no one had to say it?' asked Claude Montgomery, attorney for a committee of retirees that was created by U.S. District Court judge Steven Rhodes. 'Yes,' Buckfire answered." (NBCNews.com)  

Will Transit Challenge Derail Pension Reform in California?
"Bay Area Rapid Transit workers may begin making annual payments toward their pensions under a tentative deal that ended a strike last week. But they are still exempt from cost-cutting pension reforms, unless the state wins a lawsuit filed this month.... Following complaints from public employee unions, the [DOL] began to withhold $1.6 billion in federal grants to transit districts this year after concluding the pension reform reduced bargaining rights.... In a lawsuit to overturn Labor's decision on California pension reform, the state said the federal agency went beyond state law and concluded that new hires are entitled to the same pension benefits as current employees." (Calpensions)  

Defined Contribution Pension Plans: Sticky or Discerning Money?
"Participants in [DC] plans rarely adjust their portfolio allocations, suggesting that their investment choices and consequent money flows are sticky and not discerning. Yet, the participants' inertia could be offset by the DC plan sponsors, who adjust the plan's investment options. [The authors] examine these countervailing influences on flows into U.S. mutual funds [and] find that flows into funds that derive from DC assets are more volatile and exhibit more performance sensitivity than non-DC flows, primarily due to the adjustments of the investment options by the plan sponsors." (Clemens Sialm, Laura Starks and Hanjiang Zhang, via the National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER])  

When Working Longer Is the Best Option
"A 2013 research study ... looked at the impact of deferring retirement on a hypothetical retiree. In [this] scenario, delaying retirement by just a single year increased the probability of success for a retirement portfolio by nearly 10.6%.... [W]hat strategies can encourage clients to delay retirement without decreasing their standard of living and overall life[?] One strategy is to free up additional cash in order to enhance the individual's lifestyle in the years prior to retirement, making delayed retirement more palatable." (InvestmentNews)  


Text of Comments by Fund Democracy to SEC on Recommendations of the Investor as Purchaser Subcommittee on Broker-Dealer Fiduciary Duty (PDF)
"Fund Democracy strongly endorses the Committee's recommendation to regulate broker-dealers as investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act when they provide personalized investment advice or hold themselves out as advisers. Neither practice is consistent with broker-dealers' claim that their investment advice is "solely incidental" to their brokerage services and that on that basis they may rely on the broker-dealer exclusion from regulation under the Advisers Act." (Mercer Bullard for Fund Democarcy)  


The 401(k) Plan Sponsor Capability Gap
"This is the gap between what plan sponsors must do and what they are able to do; what they have the capacity to do and not do.... A complete solution provides unified fiduciary control of both plan administration and investments in an independent plan administrator, and relieves plan sponsors of almost all plan sponsorship burdens.' (Fiduciary Plan Governance, LLC)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Are You Ready to Retire? Take This Quiz.
"Wherever you stand -- several years from leaving work or already retired-the following quiz highlights some of the most critical parts of planning for later life and can help you judge how successful your retirement might be.... Research by Fidelity Investments recommends that workers should aim to save what multiple of their ending annual salary at age 67 in order to meet basic income needs in retirement? ... A 65-year-old couple retires in 2013. How much money will they need to cover medical expenses throughout their retirement?" (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)  

ISS Releases 2014 Proposed Changes to Executive Compensation Evaluation Policy
"ISS has posted its 2014 Draft Policies for comment by institutional investors, companies and other members of the governance community. These draft policies have traditionally served as a preview of the final policies expected next month which will be effective for the 2014 proxy season. This year's draft policies do not propose any major modifications to the ISS methodology." (Steven Hall & Partners)  

Rabbi Trusts: An Important Adjunct to Deferred Compensation Plans
"Rabbi trusts can provide executives with some security for the future payment of their deferred compensation benefits.... These trusts must be properly structured, however, to defer compensation by avoiding constructive receipt, economic benefit, or violations of the requirements of IRC section 409A. While the IRS has created a model trust document, employers still need to take care in drafting the underlying deferred compensation plan." (Fulcrum Partners, LLC)  

Employees Love Equity Awards But Corporate Stock Plan Education Could Be Better
"[A]significant majority of the participants (65%) either have skilled professional or technical roles or work in middle or low-level management.... One interesting line of inquiry gauged the perceived value of stock plans to that of other benefits, especially 401(k) plans. In this comparison, every grant type [but one] proved to be more popular than other company benefits[.]" (myStockOptions.com)  

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