Retirement Plans Newsletter

September 28, 2017

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Jobs

Internal Sales - Qualified Plans
Dedicated Defined Benefit Services
in CA

Compliance Specialist
Haynes Benefits PC
in MO

Retirement Account Administrator II
Alerus Financial
in MI, MN, ND, NH

401(k) Plan Administrator
Compass Retirement Consulting Group
in NH, Telecommute

Retirement Relationship Manager
Alerus Financial
in MI

Client Services Manager
Alerus Financial
in MN, ND

Retirement Plan Regional Sales Director
Retirement Plan Consultants LLC
in AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX

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Tax Exempt and Government Entities FY 2018 Work Plan (PDF)
14 pages. "For Individually Designed Plans, EP Determinations will accept only initial and terminating Individually Designed plan applications ... EP will continue to produce high-quality technical KM products (e.g., issue snapshots and audit tools) and integrate the K-Nets with new Compliance Strategies.... EP Technical will also focus on actuarial letter rulings, 60- day rollover waivers, opinion letters on prototype Individual Retirement Account (IRA) products, and technical assistance work for its taxpayers ... EP will provide online guidance to the public on practices that facilitate quick closures of VC applications with the expectation that more taxpayers/practitioners will use this information to perfect their applications before submission.
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

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Retirement Plans at Risk for Identity Theft
"Employers and plan sponsors should carefully review their vendor agreements and your plan's record keeper's procedures on identity verification ... If a retirement plan vendor erroneously pays an account to an identity thief, the participant would still have the right to make a claim for his or her retirement account from the plan.... [E]mployers may want to remind employees to guard their personal documents, passwords and keep personal information confidential."
Winstead PC

Administrative Deadlines for Single Employer Defined Benefit Pension Plans (PDF)
2-page chronological timeline of deadlines for calendar year plans, with adjustments noted for non-calendar year plans.
Watkins Ross

The 'Problem' of Small 401(k) Accounts (and What to Do About It)
"While automatic rollovers swept the smallest accounts out of the 401k system, the PPA actually increased their numbers.... Participants with balances between $5,000 and $15,000 haven't fared better, with systemic job change 'friction' having them default to the easiest choices available, stranding their small accounts in their former employers' plans or cashing out entirely.... Auto portability is the only public policy initiative that directly addresses the small account problem at its source."
401K Specialist

Roth Deferrals: Don't Assume Employees 'Get It'
"Given that educating employees about Roth is a struggle, and the track record of engaging employees through education alone is mixed, why not mirror other plan provisions and default employees who may likely benefit to Roth instead of pre-tax deferrals? Sponsors could split the default based on compensation levels -- some employees would be defaulted to Roth deferrals while others would be defaulted to pre-tax deferrals. Or, a sponsor could set the general plan to default all participants to Roth deferrals for a plan covering primarily lower-paid employees."
Conduent

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GE Hit with Lawsuit Over Fees in Its $28 Billion 401(k)
"GE allegedly selected and retained its proprietary mutual funds in the plan, earning hundreds of millions of dollars from a subsidiary that managed the plan to the participants' detriment, according to a lawsuit filed Sept. 26 in federal court in California. GE's selection of its proprietary funds for the plan provided its subsidiary -- GE Asset Management Inc. [GEAM] -- a constant source of fees and helped inflate the market value of GEAM, which GE sold to State Street for $485 million in 2016."
Bloomberg BNA

DOL Settlement Agreements Provide ESOP Transaction Guidance
"The [DOL] and First Bankers Trust Services Inc. [recently] entered into a settlement agreement ... resolving a case challenging FBTS' actions as trustee in a transaction whereby a private label denim manufacturer was sold to an [ESOP]. This settlement agreement ... largely mirrors a process agreement that the DOL entered into with GreatBanc Trust Company in 2014 ... [This article describes] some key areas where the Agreements differ ... [and provides] an in-depth chart that summarizes the terms and highlights the differences between the two Agreements."
Holland & Knight

PBGC Premiums Driving DB Plan Sponsors to Fund, De-Risk
"When asked about reasons why they either have increased funding or would consider doing so, 40% of respondents decided to increase funding to reduce the cost of future PBGC premiums, and nearly 33% are also considering funding for that same reason.... [T]hat combined total of nearly 73% is a notable increase from the 2015 survey results, which found only about 60% citing PBGC premiums as a deciding factor to fund above requirement."
PLANSPONSOR

The Disappearance of U.S. Defined Benefit Plans? Not So Fast
"While the decreased prevalence of corporate pension plans has dominated headlines over the past decade, ... just 6 percent of U.S. corporate pension obligations have actually been settled since 2012.... 43 percent [of plan sponsors] have implemented a lump-sum offer to former employees and 39 percent say they are somewhat or very likely to implement this approach in the next 12 to 24 months."
Aon

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Retirement Assets Total $26.6 Trillion in Second Quarter 2017
"Retirement assets generally rose in the second quarter of 2017. Assets in [IRAs] totaled $8.4 trillion at the end of the second quarter of 2017, an increase of 2.3 percent from the end of the first quarter. [DC] plan assets rose 2.2 percent in the second quarter of 2017 to $7.5 trillion.... Private-sector DB plans held $3.0 trillion in assets at the end of the second quarter of 2017, and annuity reserves outside of retirement accounts were $2.1 trillion."
Investment Company Institute [ICI]

Ohio's Public-Employee Pensions Face Cutbacks
"Collectively, Ohio's five public pension funds have $192 billion in assets and last year paid out more than $15 billion in pension benefits and $1.1 billion in health-care benefits.... Although the funds have been mostly reliable and financially sound for decades, recent economic downturns, soaring health-care and prescription-drug costs, and the increased longevity of retirees have taken a toll. Several of the funds are reducing or eliminating cost-of-living adjustments, cutting subsidies and increasing health-care premiums."
The Columbus Dispatch

Can Knowledge Empower Women to Save More for Retirement?
"This study assesses the role of financial knowledge and empowerment in contributing to the gender gap in savings. [The authors] evaluate the effects of financial education delivered to women in the workplace ... [and] estimate that a multi-media education effort increased participation in retirement savings by 2.6 percentage points, closing the gender gap by more than half. This result is partially explained by pre-existing trends."
Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Benefits in General

House Passes Legislation to Deliver Immediate Tax Relief to Hurricane Victims
"Today, the House passed the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 (H.R.3823), which includes House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady's (R-TX) bill to deliver targeted tax relief to the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria."
Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives

Hurricane-Related Relief: It's About Time and Money
"The IRS, [DOL] and [PBGC] have all announced changes to their usual compliance and enforcement regimes that will allow employers and employees some wiggle room in the aftermath of the storms.... This [article] provides an outline of hurricane-related relief gathered in one place[.]"
Bloomberg BNA

Supreme Court May Have First ERISA-Free Term in Six Years
"The last time the Supreme Court went a full year without hearing an ERISA case was the 2011-2012 term. Although another ERISA-free term may be in the cards, a handful of pending petitions raise questions that could pique the justices' interest."
Bloomberg BNA

[Opinion]

Tax Reform Must Preserve Employer-Sponsored Benefits
"[T]ax reform should build on the current successful incentives in the tax code that encourage employers and workers to maximize retirement security.... Tax reform is also an opportunity to improve the tax rules governing Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and high-deductible plans, to ensure that beneficiaries have access to supplemental benefits, improve savings incentives and opportunities, and maximize flexibility in HSA-eligible plan design."
The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC]

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

[Guidance Overview]

New SEC Guidance Emphasizes Reasonableness and Flexibility in CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure
"[R]egistrants can use reasonable beliefs, estimates, assumptions, methodologies and statistical sampling in determining median employee compensation, including: [1] Using existing internal records that are reasonably reflective of annual compensation ... to determine median compensation ... as well as to determine if its non-US population is de minimis ... and thus excludable. [2] Ascertaining whether an individual is an independent contractor according to another 'widely recognized test' (e.g., the 20-factor test commonly used by the IRS)[.]"
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

[Guidance Overview]

SEC Issues Pay Ratio Guidance
"The guidance provides specific examples of permissible sampling methods, situations where the use of reasonable estimates are appropriate, and other reasonable methodologies an issuer may use. It emphasizes that the rule is intended to provide substantial flexibility in how the pay ratio is determined, but notes that the sampling or other methodologies used must be reasonable and tailored to the issuer's particular set of facts and circumstances."
McGuireWoods

Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Must Amend DB Plan in Order to Purchase Annuities for Retiree Group?
"I have a client who is considering purchasing annuities for some of the retiree group. Their attorney says a plan amendment is required. I have never heard of a plan amendment being required in this circumstance. Have you?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Should Attorneys Send an Entire Divorce Decree to a TPA?
"Now and then, in a QDRO situation, an attorney will send the TPA the entire divorce decree (not just the Qualified Domestic Relations Order or portions pertinent to a property settlement that involves a retirement plan). Does this violate any sort of privacy rule, client confidentiality, etc.?"
BenefitsLink Message Boards

403(b)(7) vs. 403(b)(9)
"How can I definitively determine whether a church plan is a 403(b)(7) or 403(b)(9) account? As far as I know, for the client in question, all of the plan assets are in mutual funds on the American Funds platform. The existing plan document does not reference investments. To be an RIA, it seems that you have to specify this in the plan document, but there was not an option to specify this is our plan document, although there will be with the updated pre-approved version. Can this RIA designation be made elsewhere, such as in the service contract with the investment company? Also, if the plan only allows employees to invest in mutual funds with American Funds, can it still be an RIA?"
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Lois Baker, J.D., President  loisbaker@benefitslink.com
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
Holly Horton, Business Manager  hollyhorton@benefitslink.com

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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