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November 22, 2013          Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise
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Employee Benefits Jobs

401(k) Retirement Plan Administrator
Wellington Financial Group, Inc.
in VA

Counsel, Benefits Law
Philips
in MA

Defined Contribution Assistant I
The Standard
in OH

Experienced Pension Consultant
Retirement Plan Administrators, LLC
in GA

Executive Director
Northwestern Ohio Administrators, Inc.
in OH

Manager of Operations
United Retirement Plan Consultants
in AZ

Internal Sales Support Specialist
United Retirement Plan Consultants
in MD

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Webcasts and Conferences

Beyond the Basics: Determining Eligibility for Premium Tax Credits - Recorded
December 5, 2013 WEBCAST
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))

The Overturning of DOMA and its Impact on Retirement Plans
December 10, 2013 in KY
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Greater Cincinnati)

Benchmarking & Demonstrating Value in the Age of Reasonableness
December 11, 2013 WEBCAST
(fi360)

Hanging on to Loose Ends
December 18, 2013 in PA
(ASPPA Benefits Council of Western PA)

Obama’s One-Year Delay: Actuarial Implications and Impact on Health Plans
December 18, 2013 WEBCAST
(Atlantic Information Services, Inc)

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

IASB Publishes Narrow-Scope Amendments to IAS 19 Employee Benefits: Defined Benefit Plans -- Employee Contributions
"The narrow scope amendments apply to contributions from employees or third parties to defined benefit plans. The objective of the amendments is to simplify the accounting for contributions that are independent of the number of years of employee service, for example, employee contributions that are calculated according to a fixed percentage of salary." (IFRS Foundation)  


[Advert.]

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Proposals, Testing, Administration, 5500s, 1099Rs, Plan Documents
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[Guidance Overview]

IRS Retirement News for Employers, November 22, 2013 (PDF)
Topics include: [1] IRA year-end reminders; [2] 2014 cost-of-living adjustments; [3] 403(b) written plan requirement -- what to do if you didn't adopt a written plan by the deadline; [4] Annual notice -- what to do if you didn't notify eligible employees about your SIMPLE IRA plan; [5] Automatic enrollment plans -- general facts and considerations for participants; and [6] Mark Your Calendar -- retirement plan deadlines. (Internal Revenue Service)  

[Guidance Overview]

Tax-Qualified Retirement Plans: Amendments and Other Year-End Action Items
"This [article] describes two types of action items in particular -- plan amendments and participant notices -- that sponsors must adopt or provide by the end of 2013 (or relatively soon thereafter). The list is not exhaustive but is intended to serve as a reminder of items that plan sponsors should review and consider before the end of the year. The discussion ... assumes that a plan has a calendar-year plan year." (Morgan Lewis)  

[Guidance Overview]

Final Regs on the Reduction or Suspension of Safe Harbor Contributions
"The preamble of the proposed regulations stated that a plan that reduced or suspended [safe harbor nonelective contributions] or matching safe harbor contributions during a plan year must prorate the otherwise applicable compensation under section 401(a)(17) in accordance with the requirements of section 1.401(a)(17)-1(b)(3)(iii)(A). Commentators asked for clarification of this and in the preamble of the final regulations, it states that such an explanation is beyond the scope of the 401(k) and (m) regulations." (McKay Hochman)  

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Issues Final Rules on Mid-Year Suspension or Reduction of Safe Harbor 401(k) Plan Nonelective and Matching Contributions
"Sponsors of a 401(k) plan that provides a safe harbor nonelective contribution, who want to preserve the option of a mid-year reduction or suspension of the safe harbor nonelective contribution for 2014, will need to comply with new notice requirement prior to the beginning of the 2014 plan year. This notice must be part of the annual safe harbor notice that, for a calendar year plan, may have already been issued as it must be given at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the 2014 plan year." (Troutman Sanders)  

Text of IRS PLR 201347028: Nature of Employer, Not Duties of Employees, Governs Exemptions from Section 415(b)(2) Reductions (PDF)
"[Y]ou request a ruling that Agency A constitutes a police department organized and operated by State B to provide police protection and/or emergency medical services for State B for purposes of the exemption from the age-reduced 415(b) limit created by Code section 415(b)(2)(G) ... [I]dentifying qualified participants, for purposes of Code sections 415(b)(2)(G) and (H), requires an inquiry into the overall nature of the employer, and not the activities of any specific employees or groups of employees. In the present case, none of the operative laws, documents, or materials provided by Agency A describe an organization whose overall mission and nature is to be a police department." (Internal Revenue Service)  

10 Ways Nonfiduciary Advisers Can Work with 401(k)s
"Not all reps will be able to act as a fiduciary -- perhaps they don't meet their firm's asset requirements to be considered a 401(k) specialist. Still, those same reps might have a handful of plan clients to whom they're very committed and wish to provide services. As long as these reps have their broker-dealer's blessing to proceed with the relationships and provide service, they can still provide value to their 401(k) clients without accidentally providing fiduciary advice." (InvestmentNews)  

Labor and Employment and ERISA Class Actions After Wal-Mart and Comcast (Part I: Commonality)
"By adopting a dissimilarities analysis to determine whether common questions have common answers, Wal-Mart makes commonality a significant screen to eliminate or cabin many types of labor and employment and ERISA class actions. Wal-Mart's dissimilarities analysis is particularly important (i) to labor and employment class actions involving discretionary or complex multi-level or multi-source decision making, (ii) to ERISA investment cases in 401(k) and similar plans, and (iii) to ERISA (and labor and employment) class actions that depend on allegedly defective or misleading communications." (Proskauer Rose LLP)  

How 'Choice Architecture' Can Strengthen Defined Contribution Plans (PDF)
"[M]any employees are not retirement-ready or even on the path to retirement readiness.... [E]mployers can begin to improve this gloomy outlook at relatively low cost or even no cost simply by altering their plans' 'choice architecture' -- that is, how choices are presented to employees. Subtle changes in plan structure and participant communications can help counter certain natural tendencies participants have to making decisions that are sometimes not in their own interests because although people make these 'sub-optimal' decisions due to these subconscious tendencies, they do so in highly predictable ways." (Sibson Consulting)  

Measuring Pension Obligations: Discount Rates Serve Various Purposes (PDF)
"The solvency value, a market-based measurement, determines an amount that a pension plan needs to invest in default-free securities to provide the benefits with certainty. The budget value, an expected return-based measurement, determines an amount that will be sufficient to provide benefits if the portfolio earns the expected return on assets. The difference between the two represents the gain the sponsor anticipates by taking on risk in a diversified portfolio. Plans funded at the budget level and invested in a diversified portfolio are likely to experience either insufficient or surplus assets, and benefit security is affected by the plan sponsor's ability to make additional contributions if an adverse investment experience materializes." (American Academy of Actuaries)  

Wall Street Fees Paid by NYC's Pension Funds Climb 28%
"The charges climbed to $472.5 million in the year ended June 30 ... The 28 percent gain is more than double the return on the $137.4 billion retirement system's assets in the same period. In the past seven years, investment expenses for the pensions, which are overseen by the comptroller's office, surged by $280 million." (Bloomberg)  

The Role of IRAs in U.S. Households' Saving for Retirement, 2013 (PDF)
"Nearly four out of 10 U.S. households owned IRAs in 2013.... Nearly three out of 10 U.S. households owned traditional IRAs in 2013.... Rollovers from employer-sponsored retirement plans have fueled the growth in IRAs.... Although most U.S. households were eligible to make contributions, few did.... IRA withdrawals were infrequent and mostly retirement related.... The majority of traditional IRA withdrawals were made by retirees.... Traditional IRA-owning households not making withdrawals generally indicated they do not plan to tap their IRAs until age 70-1/2." [Appendix includes supplemental data.] (Investment Company Institute [ICI])  

Letter from SEC Chair White Regarding the Investor Advisory Committee's Target Date Fund Recommendation (PDF)
"The Division of Investment Management believes that it would be helpful for the Commission to request additional comment on standardized risk-based glide path illustrations for target date funds, as recommended by the Committee. I have been informed that the other Commissioners support obtaining this additional public comment, as do I. I therefore have asked the staff to develop for the Commission's consideration a draft request for additional comment, and I would look forward to constructive public feedback." (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)  

Prudent Practice 1.2 for Fiduciaries: Follow Governing Documents
"In addition to those core documents to the plan, the documentation that is created as a matter of course must also be collected and retained. These documents serve as proof that the investment process is being carried out appropriately and provide context for how and why certain investment decisions were made. This ongoing collection of documentation is consistent with 'books and records' rules established by the SEC and state securities regulators for registered investment advisers." (fi360)  

Lawmakers Want Federal Employees to Have Socially Responsible Retirement Investment Options
"The Federal Employees Responsible Investment Act, sponsored by Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., in the House and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., in the Senate, would require officials who administer the Thrift Savings Plan to create a 'corporate responsibility index' as an option in which TSP participants could invest.... While the socially responsible investments would offer the short-term advantage of providing participants 'an opportunity to invest in accordance with their values,' [a 2012 GAO report] said other benefits were 'unknown' and the option would not provide any additional portfolio diversification." (Government Executive)  

Hilton Owes $21M to Lawyers in ERISA Suit
"In the late 1990s ... a Hilton employee noticed a problem with the retirement-benefits calculation on his statement and filed suit under [ERISA]. Almost 15 years later, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., determined that Hilton's retirement plan was improperly backloaded ... The D.C. Circuit affirmed the ruling last year ... While the attorneys' fees request of 15 percent of the common fund is several times greater than the amount counsel would have charged plaintiff at their billable rate ... 'In light of the skill and dedication exhibited by class counsel, the substantial length and complexity of this litigation, the risks assumed by counsel, and the substantial benefits secured by counsel for the class, the court concludes that a fee of 15 percent of the common fund is fair and reasonable,' the judge concluded." (Courthouse News Service)  

[Opinion]

Retirement: An Old, Worn-Out Idea
"As they approach retirement, American workers prepare to step back and enjoy their final years. However, the sheer number of retirees, and the cost of accommodating them, is likely to put an end to these dreams before they begin.... What, then, is the future that today's septuagenarians face as they come to the end of their working lives?" (StarTribune)  

[Opinion]

Battling New Brunswick's Pension Reforms?
"New Brunswick's finance minister says the provincial government has gained the support of the majority of unions that represent the civil service in its proposed public pension changes.... The government wants to implement changes including moving to a shared-risk model for pensions in order to address a $1-billion deficit for the public service plan.... [T]he sustainability of defined-benefit pension plans requires concessions from all the key stakeholders: unions, plan sponsors and taxpayers. There is simply no way the status quo can go on indefinitely without jeopardizing the sustainability of DB pensions." (Pension Pulse)  

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

Does California Court Ruling Signal the End of Compensation-Related Shareholder Suits?
"[T]he court provided a useful discussion of the claims made by the Clorox plaintiffs that offers advice for companies on the potential need to beef up their compensation disclosures.... Because it dismissed all of the plaintiff's claims, the Clorox ruling may bolster companies' efforts to streamline their disclosures by alleviating companies' fear of leaving out something material.... The Clorox court addressed six separate disclosure issues raised by the plaintiff: [1] Peer group analysis ... [2] TSR information ... [3] ISS CEO pay-for-performance analysis ... [4] Share usage and dilution analysis ... [5] Fair Value Transfer (FVT) and Shareholder Value Transfer (SVT) analysis ... [6] Burn rate analysis." [Mancuso v. Clorox, No. RG12-65165 (Cal. Sup. Ct. Alameda County, Aug. 2013)] (Towers Watson)  

Institutional Shareholder Services Releases 2014 Proxy Voting Policies
"Currently, when determining the Relative Degree of Alignment, ISS calculates the difference between a company's total stockholder return (TSR) rank and its CEO's total pay rank within a peer group over three-year and one-year periods... ISS is eliminating the use of the one-year period.... Under the new model, each year of TSR will be weighted equally and calculated to produce the annualized TSR for the measurement period, providing a smoother performance measure that does not over-emphasize any particular year during the measurement period." (Practical Law Company)  

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