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Alerus Financial
in MI, MN, NH

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Webcasts and Conferences

Specialty Drug Cost Management Opportunities for Employers and Employees
March 15, 2017 in MO
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - St. Louis Chapter

Executive Compensation for Private Companies
June 6, 2017 in AZ

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[Guidance Overview]

Interesting Angles on the DOL's Fiduciary Rule, Part 38
"Combining the language in the Risk Alert with the language in the footnote, the [SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE)] is saying that recommendations to participants to take distributions from plans ... and rolling over to an IRA ... will be scrutinized. It also suggests that the OCIE favorably views FINRA's analysis in Regulatory Notice 13-45."

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[Guidance Overview]

The Ins and Outs of the Best Interest Contract Exemption
"The [Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE)], which is a key feature of the [DOL Fiduciary] Rule, allows advisors a broad mandate in how they want to be compensated. Everything is hunky-dory in this respect as long as an advisor promises to act in a client's best interest, is prudent and loyal (two critical fiduciary duties), and doesn't charge unreasonable compensation. Remember, though, that the BICE is not available to fiduciaries that receive variable compensation in exchange for rendering discretionary investment advice pursuant to ERISA section 3(21)(A)(i)."
W. Scott Simon, in Morningstar Advisor

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Fiduciary Rule: What Happens Now?
"After considering comments it receives from the public on the proposed delay, including comments on whether 60 days is sufficient, the DOL is expected to issue final guidance that will delay the rule for a period of time while it considers potential changes to the scope and operation of the fiduciary rule itself.... While the uncertainty around the rule's future can be challenging, it will offer the industry another chance to influence the rule's final framework."

The Missing DOL FAQs on 'Consumer Protections for Retirement Investors'
"[W]ith no announcement, no fanfare, and no comment, the investor rights FAQ is gone. Officially, it does not exist.... Delivered just days before the inauguration, it responds to the two most persistent industry charges against the rule -- that it denies commission-based revenue or incentive compensation and that it will cause small retirement investors to lose access to investment advice.... [It] is a simple explanation of sound, best practice behaviors when hiring an investment adviser or deciding on an investment recommendation. These are best practice behaviors that won't go away whatever the fate of [the conflict of interest rule] and they are found in a ten-part checklist."
Fiduciary Plan Governance, LLC

Prepare for Shortened Deadlines and Other Changes to IRS EP/EO Exam Documentation Request Procedures
"Changes to the procedures that [IRS] Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) examiners use to make and enforce Information Document Request (IDR) in connection with an audit or other examination make it more important than ever that taxpayers use special care to collect, organize and maintain all of the data and documentation that examiners are likely to request in IDR and take other steps to prepare in advance to respond to an IDR."
Solutions Law Press


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Computer Automation Relieves ERISA Governance and Risk Management Burdens
"[T]he need for internal controls for managing fiduciary practices is growing. According to [DOL] reports, those controls are sorely lacking in most plans.... By increasing the use of preventative automated controls, organizations can drive down the number of manual touch points and labor-intensive error detect controls. Similarly, using automated tools in the monitoring or controls-testing process will have an immediate beneficial impact on labor costs."

Worker Participation in Employer-Sponsored Pensions (PDF)
"This fact sheet provides data on the percentage of U.S. workers who have access to and who participate in employer-sponsored pension plans. The data are from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)." [Report R43439, Feb. 27, 2017]
Congressional Research Service [CRS]

Retirement Plans Under ERISA: A 40-Plus Year Retrospective (PDF)
"Certainly, ERISA imposed significantly greater requirements on employers that sponsored any qualified retirement plan, particularly defined benefit plans.... In retrospect, we should have recognized that placing all of the risk on only one party is not sustainable.... The advent of requiring assumptions based on current conditions rather than long-term expectations introduced a counter-cyclical element in pension funding.... [C]hanges have been reactive rather than proactive. Congress responds to the current crisis rather than developing a long-term plan of attack." [Includes a descriptive historical list of legislation amending ERISA's qualified plan provisions.]
Bryan, Pendleton, Swats and McAllister, LLC

PBGC Provides Financial Assistance to Road Carriers Local 707 Pension Fund
"The full benefit promised to current retirees and beneficiaries in the 707 Fund averages $1,313 per month, but the average guaranteed benefit is $570. Forty-two percent of the 707 Fund retirees and beneficiaries have benefit reductions of more than half, compared to the amount of their promised benefits. Only 7 percent of current retirees and beneficiaries will receive their full plan-promised benefit amount."
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation [PBGC]

Illinois Senate Passes Contribution Bill for Chicago Teachers Pension Plan
"The Illinois Senate on [Feb. 28] passed a bill approving additional state contributions to the $9.5 billion Chicago Public School Teachers' Pension & Retirement Fund, totaling $436 million for the next two fiscal years.... The passage of the current bill is dependent on the passage of 11 other bills affecting the state's fiscal 2018 budget. Four of those 11 bills were also passed by the Senate[.]"
Pensions & Investments

California Mapping New Path for Secure Choice
"Members of the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Board said existing provisions of [ERISA] could make retirement accounts exempt from the act if Congress passes H.J. Res. 66. The measure would repeal [DOL] regulations that explicitly exempted Secure Choice and similar programs in other states from ERISA.... Board members said they would be on solid ground if they rely on a safe harbor dating to 1975 that exempts employers from ERISA's fiduciary requirements if they provide an individual retirement account to employees."
Bloomberg BNA

Benefits in General

Is Your Benefits Program Future-Ready?
"In the past, one to two options were offered to fit the total employee population. Today's plan designs provide an increasing variety of benefits that fit the unique needs of the workforce, enabling employees to identify with the plans that fit them best.... Plan Efficiency is vitally important. Do you have visibility into your systems and the data transparency needed to control costs? ... Employee Engagement ... boils down to how well employees understand the value of their benefit offerings."

Press Releases

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587. Copyright 2017, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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