Retirement Plans Newsletter

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Employee Benefits Jobs

Webcasts and Conferences

Intermediate IRA Training Part 2
August 17, 2017 WEBCAST
Wolters Kluwer

SALGBA Regional Conference
August 28, 2017 in TN
State and Local Government Benefits Association [SALGBA]

CB and DB Plans: Who, When, and Why Plus a Bit of What and How
August 29, 2017 WEBCAST
ASPPA [American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries]

Getting to Know Auto Features and How They Enhance Plan Performance
August 31, 2017 WEBCAST
Pension Consultants, Inc.

2017 HERO Forum
September 12, 2017 in AZ
Health Enhancement Research Organization

Determination Letters, Pre-Approved, and Individually-Designed Plans: New Guidance, Tips, and Concerns
September 14, 2017 WEBCAST
American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education Group [ALI CLE]

Unauthorized Practice of Law Issues for Employee Benefits Lawyers
September 19, 2017 WEBCAST
American Bar Association Joint Committee on Employee Benefits [JCEB]

View All Webcasts and Conferences

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New Topics on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

New Comments and Topics

All Topics, Grouped by Forum

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DOL Rule Opponents Have Good Day in Court of Appeals
"The 68-minute hearing was marked by several spirited clashes between government attorney Michael Shih and Judge Edith H. Jones over the DOL's authority to regulate individual retirement accounts and how investment advice works in practice.... After a string of federal court losses last year, DOL rule opponents finally found a friendly court [in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals]."

[Advert.] Webinar -- EPCRS Case Studies

Sponsored by Wolters Kluwer

Join us for a review of the various EPCRS programs and walk through real world correction situations we have encountered at Technical Answer Group. Register here for this FREE webinar and earn 1 hr CE credit. Date: Thurs. Aug. 3, 2017 Time: 1 pm (CT)

Broker-Dealers and Investment Advisers: Comment Period Open for New Nevada Fiduciary Law
"Effective July 1, Nevada broker-dealers and investment advisers became subject to the state's financial planner statute ... The statutory fiduciary duty specifically requires financial planners to 'disclose to a client, at the time advice is given, any gain the financial planner may receive, such as profit or commission, if the advice is followed.' The statutory fiduciary duty also requires financial planners, through a 'diligent inquiry of each client,' to make an initial determination of suitability of the advice to be given to each client as well as to evaluate such suitability on an ongoing basis."
Stradley Ronon

Variable 'Pooled Separate Accounts' Have the Ability to Competitively Provide Scale
"One of the most unique, flexible, and underutilized investment platforms in the 401(a) marketplace is the insurance company variable 'pooled separate account' (the 'PSA').... The market is looking to provide the smaller end of the market with the 'scale' which can give plans access to well-priced investments, along with access to large numbers of unrelated funds and fund managers, which otherwise would not be available to them. PSAs do this, while providing 'frictionless' trading.... They are also flexible enough to handle a variety of lifetime income designs[.]"
Business of Benefits

Avoid Getting Sheared by Revenue Sharing (PDF)
"Far too often, employers evaluate recordkeeper capabilities and fees through an RFP process, establish new relationships with vendors whose fees and services fit their needs -- and then they put the fee monitoring process on the back burner. It isn't until many years later that someone -- hopefully not a representative of the [DOL] or a plaintiff's attorney -- points out to them that the recordkeeper's fees have become excessive. That's the problem with revenue sharing in a nutshell, because it's 'out of sight,' it often falls 'out of mind.' "

I'm Not a Fiduciary -- It's That Other Guy
"A 2017 [DC] plan survey ... indicates that there has been no improvement in this percentage of corporate plan decision-makers who don't understand that they are fiduciaries. 17% even thought that they could pass on all of their fiduciary responsibilities to third parties such as their provider, recordkeeper or investment adviser."
Cohen & Buckmann, P.C.


Online Learning Course: 401(k) Plan Administration

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Learn more about plan design issues, plan investments, fiduciary responsibility and plan fees, employee communications and investment education, automatic enrollment, participant loans, distributions, and plan amendment and termination.

How Do the IRS and DOL Determine Whether a Closed MEP Exists?
"Under the current regulatory framework, whether several independent employers represent a bona fide employer group or association that is eligible to maintain a closed MEP depends on the facts and circumstances of the particular situation, taking into consideration a number of factors as identified by the DOL in several of its advisory opinions on the topic."
National Association of Plan Advisors [NAPA]

Building a Strong Retirement Program: One for the 'AGES' (PDF)
"The Forward Thinking Task Force of the American Academy of Actuaries developed the Retirement for the AGES framework to provide a straightforward and unbiased way to assess and compare different retirement security proposals.... The AGES assessments [on these principles: Alignment, Governance, Efficiency, and Sustainability,] reveal how difficult it is to design an ideal retirement program that would balance many competing needs and objectives. They also show that it is possible to improve on the current system"
Benefits Quarterly, published by the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists [ISCEBS]

How Early Retirement Reduces Projected Social Security Benefits
"Social Security benefits aren't actually reduced for those who retire early -- they simply stop accruing additional benefits when they stop working. But given that Social Security projects the assumption of work until full retirement age, it's crucial to recognize that actual benefits may be lower for those who retire early -- even if they wait until full retirement age to actually receive those benefits.... [At] a minimum, it's crucial to take a moment and look at the individual's inflation-adjusted historical earnings, to understand whether or how much of an impact not working to full retirement age may actually have on projected benefits!"
Nerd's Eye View

So You're the New Owner of an Existing Inherited IRA
"The IRS has some complicated rules for titling inherited IRAs when there are successor beneficiaries.... The RMD calculation cannot be reset when a successor beneficiary inherits an inherited IRA.... A beneficiary can combine inherited IRA accounts that are inherited from the same individual as long as the RMDs are calculated using the same life expectancy factor."
Slott Report

West Wing Revolving Door and Retirement Plan Ideas Floating in D.C.
"The White House's legislative affairs director, Marc Short, just announced the timeline for tax reform ... the House is to pass the bill in October and the Senate is to pass it in November so it will be ready for the President's signature.... [Y]ou can bet that there will be thoughts about retirement plans because those rules have been adjusted by Congress over the years to adjust tax revenues as well as for retirement plan policy."
Winstead PC


Public Pension Assets: Our Funds Were in Alternatives, and All We Got Were These Lousy High Fees
"In 2005, none of the plans in the database had more than 30% of their portfolios in alternative assets. In 2015, over 30% of the plans had more than 30% of their portfolios in alts. Some even had over half their portfolios in alts.... Can [public pension trustees] really provide appropriate oversight for such complicated investments and the asset managers they hire to manage them?"


Regulatory Burdens Threaten Retirement Plans
"ERIC's comments to the Dept. of Treasury focused on four areas: Withdrawing proposed rules on minimum present value requirements for defined benefit plan distributions; Advocating for further delay on implementation of rules regarding nondiscrimination testing relief for closed defined benefit pension plans and requesting additional changes to such rules before being finalized; Calling for additional review and economic analysis of proposed regulations to update mortality tables used for determining the present value of accounts under defined benefit pension plans; and Review of foreign bank and financial report rules that apply to retirement plans in an effort to reduce costs and burdens on the retirement plan community and corporate treasury staffs."
The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC]

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

Disability Claims Procedures Must Comply with New Regs Starting in 2018
"These regulations apply to ERISA-covered short-term and long-term disability plans, as well as retirement plans that provide disability benefits that require disability determinations by the plan administrator ... The new disability claims procedures are largely meant to track, with some differences, the enhanced disclosure and claims procedures established for medical claims by the [ACA]. [Here] are the key components that employers and plan administrators should consider."
Proskauer's ERISA Practice Center

ERISA Advisory Council to Meet August 22-24
"[T]he 187th open meeting of the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans (also known as the ERISA Advisory Council) will be held on August 22-24, 2017.... The Advisory Council will study the following topics: [1] Reducing the burden and increasing the effectiveness of mandated disclosures with respect to employment-based health benefit plans in the private sector, and [2] Mandated disclosure for retirement plans -- enhancing effectiveness for participants and sponsors."
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

Where Is SEC Headed on CEO Pay Ratio and Other Compensation-Related Issues?
"[T]he SEC recently updated its list of regulatory initiatives that it plans to complete during the second half of 2017, and moved the following [Dodd-Frank] provisions from this agenda to the long-term agenda: [1] Pay versus performance disclosures (Sec. 953(a)); mandatory clawbacks for financial restatements (Sec. 954); [3] hedging policy disclosures (Sec. 955); and [3] compensation prohibitions for covered financial institutions (Sec. 956). This likely means we will not see a short-term move to finalize any of these proposals[.]"
Willis Towers Watson

Discussions on
the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Does a Participant Have a Claim for Getting What He Asked For?
"An individual-account retirement plan that includes a 401(k) arrangement allows a distribution as needed to meet a participant's hardship need. A participant submits a claim for such a distribution. The plan's administrator approves the claim, and instructs the plan's trustee to pay the requested distribution. But had the administrator read the participant's claim, it would have known that the participant was not entitled to a hardship distribution. Assuming the plan is ERISA-governed, does the participant have a viable claim against the administrator for its approval of the participant's claim? If so, why, and what's the measure of the losses that result from the administrator's breach? Can anyone pull together a claim a court would recognize?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

How Many 401(k) Plans Offer Participant Self-Direction of Investments?
"Would anyone have a reference to the relative percentages of trustee vs. participant-directed 401(k) plans?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

No Profit Sharing Plan Contributions for 8 Years: Ramifications?
"No contributions made to profit sharing plan for at least 8 years. PS-only plan (no deferrals or matches). The contributions would seem to be no longer substantial and recurring, so 100% vesting is probably triggered. Any other ramifications?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Press Releases

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Lois Baker, J.D., President
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
Holly Horton, Business Manager

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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