Retirement Plans Newsletter

May 18, 2017

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Employee Benefits Jobs

Participant Service Representative
Professional Capital Services
in PA

Director, 401k Client Services
Mutual of Omaha
in NE

Retirement Plan Specialist
Hills Pension Associates, Inc.
in MA, Telecommute

Seasonal Licensed Benefit Advisor
Willis Towers Watson
in FL, Telecommute

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Webcasts and Conferences

Fore! Your Benefits Employee Benefits Update
May 24, 2017 in IL
JMM CPA

Developments in DC Plans
June 6, 2017 WEBCAST
Society of Actuaries

Current State of Multiple Employer Plans
June 14, 2017 WEBCAST
ASPPA [American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries]

2017 Retirement Research Consortium Meeting
August 3, 2017 in DC
Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

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Discussions

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Trends in the Expenses and Fees of Funds, 2016 (PDF)
32 pages. "The average expense ratios for money market funds rose 5 basis points in 2016 to 0.18 percent.... Expense ratios of target date mutual funds averaged 0.51 percent in 2016.... Average expense ratios for both actively managed and index equity mutual funds have fallen since 1996.... Economies of scale and intense competition are putting downward pressure on expense ratios of exchange-traded funds (ETFs)." [Also available: Supplemental Tables (XLS)]
Investment Company Institute [ICI]

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Social Security Annual Statistical Supplement, 2016
"About 60.0 million persons received Social Security benefits for December 2015, an increase of 956,277 (1.6 percent) since December 2014. Seventy-two percent were retired workers and their spouses and children ... Seventy-one percent of the 40.1 million retired workers received reduced benefits because of entitlement prior to full retirement age. Relatively more women (74.1 percent) than men (68.8 percent) received reduced benefits."
U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA]

Managed Account Use Poised to Jump in 401(k) Plans
"Mergers of 401(k) record keepers ... are part of the equation that's driving an increase in the number of employers offering managed accounts in their plans.... These mergers have increased the choice of managed account providers on plan platforms ... Technology innovations that allow managed accounts to automatically incorporate individual investors' data in constructing advice are also a driving force behind renewed interest in managed accounts[.]"
Bloomberg BNA

Interesting Angles on the DOL's Fiduciary Rule, Part 47
"[M]ost of the objections are to the Best Interest Contract Exemption and not to the rule.... [T]he main issue is the prohibited transaction rules, which are statutory, rather than regulatory. Neither the SEC, nor FINRA nor the DOL, can issue regulations that conflict with a statute. As a result, even if the standard of care is changed, the prohibited transaction exemptions will continue to be written by the [DOL]. In other words, the SEC does not have the statutory authority to create exemptions from the prohibited transaction rules."
FredReish.com

Update on University Section 403(b) Cases: Inconsistent Rulings
"A novel theory proceeding in both the Duke and Emory cases is the claim that the defendants were imprudent to hire multiple record keepers, where consolidating services with one record keeper could have resulted in lower fees for participants."
Jackson Lewis P.C.

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Regulatory Barriers Facing Workers and Families Saving for Retirement
Hearing held May 18, 2017; includes video and links to testimony submitted by Bradford P. Campbell of Drinker Biddle & Reath; Jason Furman, Ph.D. of Peterson Institute for International Economics; James Kais of Transamerica; and Erik Sossa of PepsiCo, Inc.
Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions [HELP], Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives

The First 100 Days Are Done. Now What?
"While Trump is expected to sign into law a roll-back of the DOL regulatory exemption for state-run auto-IRA programs (and has already signed a similar provision for state and county auto-IRAs), the effect may be minimal.... it is clear that Trump's tax reform proposal would protect retirement plan tax deductions [and] there are several House proposals that would impact the taxation of retirement savings."
Cammack Retirement Group

Fiduciary Rule Debate Impacts State-Run Plans for Private Sector
"A new bill introduced by Senate minority Democrats, seeking to protect ERISA exemptions for state- and city-run retirement plans for the private sector, would likely be made redundant with the removal of the Obama-era fiduciary rules."
planadviser

Why Most Teachers Get a Bad Deal on Pensions
"States and school districts spend more than $50 billion each year on teacher pensions.... Despite the widely held belief that pensions entice teachers to stay on the job ... states base the financial health of their plans on the opposite assumption. State projections, based on historical data of teacher behavior, assume that pension eligibility does not encourage early-career teachers to stay on the job, and that pension rules push most veterans to leave as soon as they reach retirement age."
EducationNext

Lessons for Private Sector Retirement Security from Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands (PDF)
"This paper ... [outlines] social security and universal, quasi-universal, and voluntary employer-provided retirement plans in Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands.... [W]hile the level of risk borne by employees varies across the three countries' retirement income systems, risks are pooled among workers or offset by employers and government to a greater extent than in the U.S."
National Institute on Retirement Security [NIRS]

Benefits in General

The Fifth Circuit Calls Into Question Its Standard of Review in ERISA Denial of Benefits Cases
"The Plan ... did not provide deference to the decisions of Plan Administrator. However ... the Court applied the abuse of discretion standard to examine the plan administrator's factual determinations.... [T]he Court noted that it is the only circuit that would apply deference to factual determinations made by a plan administrator when the plan does not vest them with that discretion, and also pointed to the growing number of state laws prohibiting discretionary clauses in insurance contracts." [Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Texas, Inc., No. 16-20174 (5th Cir. Apr. 21, 2017)]
National Law Review

It May Be Time to Start Thinking About Equitable Claims Again
"A recent decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ... provides another signal that those of us defending against benefit claims increasingly may have to contend with simultaneous equitable claims for breach of fiduciary duty. Though the law is developing in this area ... and likely will vary from circuit to circuit, you can expect more plaintiffs to add an equitable claim to a benefits complaint, and you can expect at least some courts to allow those claims to go forward. What strategies will prove most effective in responding to this latest tactic?"
Robinson & Cole LLP

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

2017 Executive Compensation Trends and Developments
"[The survey] and its results are intended to provide an overview of the current environment and signal the direction in which companies are moving with respect to executive compensation and corporate governance practices. This survey features responses from 118 companies across a diverse range of industries, covering topics such as annual and long-term incentive plan designs, Say on Pay, the CEO pay ratio, and more."
Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC

Discussions on
the BenefitsLink Message Boards

EPCRS Safe Harbor for 'Employee Elective Deferral Failures' -- Applies to Catch-Up Contributions?
"The safe harbor correction method provides that if an error lasted less than 3 months and proper/timely notification is given to the employee, the employer doesn't need to correct the missed elective deferrals. I'm comfortable that this would extend to a failure to implement a pre-tax or Roth contribution election, but I'm wondering if this treatment extends to catch-up contributions, too."
BenefitsLink Message Boards

'Small Amount' Exception to Right of Distribution in Form of Stock from an ESOP?
"ESOP plan document of a C-corp provides for automatic distributions under $1,000 and automatic rollovers between $1,000 and $5,000. Is anyone aware of any 'small amount' exception to the rule that ESOP participants are entitled to receive distributions in the form of stock, with respect to their company stock account? It appears that the company is making automatic rollovers of amounts under $5,000 in cash, and automatic distributions of amounts under $1,000 in cash."
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Divorce Agreement Says All DRO Rights Are Waived; Plan Is Uncomfortable
"Profit Sharing Plan has husband and wife as participants -- soon to be ex-husband and ex-wife. Both have agreed (in the divorce agreement not yet signed) not to request a Domestic Relations Order with respect to the other's account balance. The husband has requested distribution of his account but the plan needs assurance that a Domestic Relations Order will never be presented. Is their agreement enough? What form should it take?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

VCP for Missed PPA Restatement: Choosing Effective Date for PPA Provisions
"When should the document be effective? My document has a box for PPA restatement, and I recall that this box invokes all of the regulatory effective dates. Should I restate effective 1/1/17?"
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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587. Copyright 2017 BenefitsLink.com, 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 BenefitsLink.com, 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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