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November 12, 2013          Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

Webcasts and Conferences

New Use-or-Lose Rule for Health FSAs: Timing and Administration of Permitted Carryovers
November 11, 2013 WEBCAST
(Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

IRS and DOL Audit and Enforcement Update
November 14, 2013 WEBCAST
(ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits)

Reference Pricing: Will Price Caps Help Contain Healthcare Costs?
November 18, 2013 in DC
(Alliance for Health Reform)

Guaranteed Lifetime Income Solutions: Solutions for Providing Employee Retirement Income Security
November 20, 2013 WEBCAST
(Dietrich & Associates, Inc.)

Anatomy of a Correction Program
November 21, 2013 in CA
(Western Pension & Benefits Council - Orange County Chapter)

Preparing for the 2014 Proxy Season
November 21, 2013 WEBCAST
(Winston & Strawn)

Health Care Reform for Employers: Now What? - Reno
December 10, 2013 in NV
(Lorman Education Services)

Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program And Abandoned Plan Program Workshop
December 12, 2013 in IN
(Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor)

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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official guidance, jobs, webcasts and more.
[Guidance Overview]

GASB Toolkit Helps State and Local Government Pension Plans Implement New Accounting Standards
"[T]he toolkit includes the following resources: ... [1] [An] authoritative resource guide; [2] A video ... discussing the top implementation issues facing pension plans; [3] A podcast ... discussing the types of pension plans that will be affected by Statement 67 and the most significant changes to accounting and financial reporting for pension plans; [4] A background document answering frequently-asked questions ... [5] A fact sheet answering frequently-asked questions ... [6] An article identifying several areas plan administrators and public officials should consider as they plan, prepare, and collaborate when implementing the new standards; [7] A ... document addressing common misperceptions about the new pension standards, and [8] The executive summary and the full text of GASB Statement 67." (Governmental Accounting Standards Board)  


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[Guidance Overview]

GASB's Five Things to Watch in Pension Standards Implementation
"GASB Chairman David Vaudt said in a webcast ... provided by GASB as part of a toolkit designed to assist in implementation ... that plan administrators and governments need to focus on five key areas for successful implementation: [1] Pension funding policy.... [2] Selection of assumptions.... [3] Timing of measurements.... [4] Frequency of timing of actuarial valuations.... [5] Employer reporting information." (Journal of Accountancy)  

[Guidance Overview]

Text of GFOA Best Practice: Core Elements of a Pension Funding Policy for State and Local Governments (PDF)
"To provide the desired degree of assurance, a pension funding policy would need to incorporate the following principles and objectives: [1] Every government employer that offers defined benefit pensions should obtain no less than biennially an actuarially determined contribution (ADC) to serve as the basis for its contributions; [2] The ADC should be calculated in a manner that fully funds the long-term costs of promised benefits, while balancing the goals of 1) keeping contributions relatively stable and 2) equitably allocating the costs over the employees' period of active service; [3] Every government employer that offers defined benefit pensions should make a commitment to fund the full amount of the ADC each period ...; [4] Every government employer that offers defined benefit pensions should demonstrate accountability and transparency by communicating all of the information necessary for assessing the government's progress toward meeting its pension funding objectives." (Government Finance Officers Association)  

GFOA Publishes Best Practice on Core Elements of Pension Funding Policy
"In [a recently-issued Best Practice], the GFOA offers guidance for state or local government pension funding policies to address three core elements: 1) actuarial cost method; 2) asset smoothing method; and 3) amortization policy." (Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company)  

The Billionaire Play Coming to Your 401(k)
"Public pension funds are able to boost their returns by using alternative investments, including private equity. But you need big money -- billions -- to get into that game, which means 401(k) investors have been shut out. That's about to change." (CNBC)  


Changing Systems and Support to Secure a Better Future

Sponsored by HRE's Health & Benefits Leadership Conference

A retirement crisis is looming. But, visionaries in the field are shaping new systems & implementing changes that make a tremendous difference. Hear from them in just one of the 7 General Sessions offered at Health & Benefits Leadership Conference.

Schwab CEO: Slash 401(k) Fees to Aid Workers
"Charles Schwab Chief Executive Officer Walter Bettinger on Monday called for a transformation of the 401(k) industry by slashing fees and providing participants with objective and customized advice autonomous from the plan's consultants.... He calculated that reducing the typical three-quarters of 1 percent to 2 percent fees to one-half of 1 percent by going from actively managed to strictly index funds would mean on average an additional $100,000 to each retiree. Bettinger said the two-pronged plan would mean more jobs for investment advisors because of the greater demand for more time consuming, individualized financial plans." (Financial Advisor)  

Pension Risk Management: What Comes Next?
"Three-quarters of respondent companies (75%) have a de-risking road map or journey plan, are planning one or are seriously considering implementing one by 2015. Half of all responding plan sponsors are looking to transfer some or all of their DB plan obligations. DB plan obligations are a part of the future financial picture for many organizations; 75% of companies with closed plans expect at least some participants to be accruing benefits five years from now." (Towers Watson)  

State of City Pension Plans 2013
"The cities included in our analysis have more than $125 billion of unfunded pension liabilities, highlighting the magnitude of the issue. In aggregate, the cities' pensions are 66.4% funded, with an unfunded liability of $3,776 per capita. However, the median ratios are markedly better, at 76.0% and $1,556 unfunded liability per capita. Some of the largest cities, most notably New York City and Chicago, are poorly funded, with large unfunded liabilities, skewing the overall data. For comparison ... state pension plans currently have an aggregate funded level of 72.6%, with a UAAL per capita of roughly $2,600." (Morningstar)  

The 40 Most Influential People in the Battle to Decide the Future of U.S. Pensions
"Institutional Investor has compiled its inaugural ranking of the 40 most important players in the fight for -- and against -- defined benefit pensions. The Pension 40 covers not only public pensions but corporate and Taft-Hartley, or multiemployer, plans.... [The authors] identified the people who are doing the most to tackle the pension problem, including reformers with new ideas. The list spans the political right and left, academics, activists, investment managers and advisers, and elected and appointed officials." (Institutional Investor)  

Is the Fiduciary Battle Shifting with FINRA's 'Report on Conflicts of Interest'?
"Purists may hate using FINRA and 'fiduciary' in the same sentence, but the longtime Wall Street regulator has clearly started down the fiduciary path, as the fact pattern makes clear. Does FINRA support a fiduciary duty for brokers? Yes. Would it like to regulate investment advisers? Yes. Does it have experience in fiduciary regulation? No. Can it learn? Read on." (Duane Thompson in Nerd's Eye View)  

Advisors Warned of DOL's Coming Fiduciary Rules
"[R]etirement plans aren't bought by small businesses, but rather are sold to them. Put differently, the typical small business isn't likely to go shopping for a retirement plan on its own, suggesting the important role that advisors play as salespeople. [ASPPA chief executive Brian] Graff further points out that employer plans account for the lion's share of most Americans' retirement savings, suggesting that any proposal that could limit access -- such as barring advisors from collecting commissions -- is an unwise policy in the midst of growing concern that workers aren't saving enough for retirement." (Financial Planning)  

Don't Expect a Fiduciary Proposal for Retirement Advisers Until Next Spring
"The rule proposal apparently is just reaching DOL Secretary Thomas Perez' desk and will likely take the rest of this year to get to the Office of Management and Budget ... [A]dvisers also need to be closely watching states because more than a dozen -- including California and Illinois -- are working on measures that would mandate that companies with five or more employees make a retirement savings vehicle available." (InvestmentNews)  

Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends, 2012 (PDF)
"In 2012, 39.4 percent of all workers (or 61.6 million Americans) participated in an employment-based retirement plan, compared with 39.7 percent and 61.0 million in 2011. But among full-time, full-year wage and salary workers ages 21 to 64 -- those with the strongest connection to the work force -- 53.5 percent participated.... Retirement plan participation by workers is strongly tied to macroeconomic factors such as stock market returns and the labor market. The stronger macroeconomic conditions of the late 1990s resulted in higher levels of participation, while less-positive macroeconomic conditions of the 2000s led to lower levels of participation." (Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI])  

No Ceasefire in CalPERS War with San Bernardino
"CalPERS made two court filings last month after the San Bernardino city council approved a confidential draft of a plan to exit bankruptcy, as if stepping up opposition in reaction to something in the plan. But a spokeswoman for the big pension fund said the filings are unrelated to the city's plan or 'term sheet.' As directed by a federal bankruptcy judge, the plan is a starting point for closed-door mediation and has not been revealed to the public." (Calpensions)  

The Retirement Income Challenge
"[At] a company where the 401(k) plan ... has become the primary retirement savings vehicle, the issue of how you turn the participant's account balance into a stream of income supporting the participant in retirement has become a focus of increasing concern, among policymakers, sponsors and plan participants.... These concerns have focused on three areas: Payout and longevity.... The retirement income target.... Rollovers and 'retailization.'" (October Three Consulting)  

Stroh's Calls Closing Time on Defined Benefit Plan
"Low interest rates have forced the company to liquidate assets to make the required contributions to the pension fund, and that continued pressure 'threatens the ability of The Stroh Companies to stay in business at some point in the future,' [Stroh Cos. Chairman John W. Stroh III] said. 'This proactive move will head off significant financial difficulties.'" (Pensions & Investments)  


Hedge Funds Muscling Into Munis?
"[Y]ou have to admire the irony. Public sector pensions are funding powerful private sector hedge funds that are lending money to municipalities facing fiscal hardship at sky high interest rates and restructuring their budgets to include job and pension cuts. Karl Marx must be rolling in his grave as this is yet another example of why pensions and capitalists can't afford recovery." (Pension Pulse)  


Being an Advisor Isn't For You
"Being a 401k plan advisor is about the participants --- their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. It's about loyalty, prudence, exclusive purpose, adherence and diversification -- it's about ensuring all decisions are made solely and exclusively in the best interest of plan participants and their beneficiaries. Your job as a plan advisor is to help ensure that their interests are first and foremost, that they're not paying too much, that they have appropriate choices, that providers hired are providing necessary services, and that those in charge of making decisions on their behalf understand the same." (fi360)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Benefits Over a Lifetime: 2013 Update
"These tables update to 2013 previous estimates of the lifetime value of Social Security and Medicare benefits and taxes for typical workers in different generations at various earning levels based on new estimates of the Social Security Actuary.... All amounts are presented in constant 2013 dollars." (Urban Institute)  

Text of Sixth Circuit Ruling That Remand Alone Is Not Sufficient to Support Award of Attorney's Fees (PDF)
"To conclude that the degree-of-culpability factor always favors an award of attorney fees when a case is remanded to address an inadequate review of the record would essentially equate the first King factor with a litigant's degree of success on the merits. The law of this circuit makes clear that these are separate inquiries.... Geiger urges a result that would essentially require a presumption in favor of attorney's fees to the party that achieves some success. This Circuit has explicitly rejected that position[.]" [Geiger v. Pfizer, No. 13-3519 (6th Cir. Nov. 5, 2013)] (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit)  

Identifying an ERISA Plan Made Simple Again
"[The Puerto Rico federal] District Court found that because there was nothing discretionary about the timing, amount, or form of the benefit payments, Pfizer's severance program did not 'rise to the level of an ongoing administrative scheme.'" [Aguirre-Santos v. Pfizer Pharm., LLC, CIV. 12-1393 JAF, (D.P.R. Oct. 21, 2013)] (Verrill Dana LLP)  

Annual Reminder: Do You Need to Seek Shareholder Approval of your Stock Incentive Plan in 2014?
"[U]nder Code Section 162(m), if the Compensation Committee has the authority to change performance goal targets under the Corporation's stock incentive plan from year to year after shareholder approval of the goals, then the material terms of the performance goal must be disclosed to and reapproved by shareholders every five years.... ESPPs do not need to be reapproved by shareholders every five years for Code Section 162(m) purposes, but they can run out of authorized and registered shares." (Winston & Strawn LLP)  

Equity Compensation Plan Participants Value Education
"Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed feel it is important that an employer provide education and guidance about how a stock plan works, according to [a recent] poll ... Only 50% feel their employer has done an excellent or very good job of providing such education and guidance. While 59% of respondents describe their stock plan as a key part of their compensation package, 82% believe having a stock plan is a sound business strategy for employers." (PLANADVISER.com)  

Press Releases

FINRA Releases Enhanced Version of BrokerCheck
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

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