Retirement Plans Newsletter

May 29, 2019

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Defined Contribution Plan Administrator
Keystone Benefits Group, Inc.
in Greensburg PA

Trading & Corrections Analyst
Aspire Financial Services LLC
Telecommute

Pension Administrator
KB Pension Services
in Sarasota FL

Director, Non-Qualified Client Services
Newport Group
in Lake Mary FL

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House Passes Bipartisan Retirement Reform Legislation

"Senate leadership is now considering whether and how to move the SECURE Act. At this point, it does not appear that Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) will bring the bill up for a full floor consideration this year, so Senate leadership is attempting to move the bill via unanimous consent, which is only possible if no Senator objects. Currently, there appears to be at least one objection. Another possible option is to attach the SECURE Act to a larger, must-pass bill, such as a spending bill later this year."
Groom Law Group

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Zero Expense Ratio Investment Funds Coming

"Securities lending involves asset managers lending securities they hold to short-sellers for a fee.... [T]he Fidelity Small Cap Index Fund is able to generate 0.200% in securities lending revenue, which more than covers the fund's expense ratio of 0.025%.... [It] is clear that enough revenue exists for this fund to either move to a zero or negative expense ratio."
Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants

IRS Private Letter Ruling Addresses 401(k) Plan Providing Student Loan Benefits

"[T]he IRS did not rule on any aspect of the program other than the impact of the contingent benefit rule. Many additional factors should be considered in deciding whether to adopt such a program, some of which are discussed in this document.... While variance from [the specific design described in PLR 201833012] may be permissible, employers are strongly encouraged to consult with outside counsel to the extent material changes from [this design] will be made."
Newport Group

New Tactics Being Deployed to Challenge Church Plans

"The key issues being argued now center around the degree of connection between a pension plan and the religious organization, including how the pension plan is maintained or controlled, and the sponsor's principal purpose.... Other plaintiffs are pursuing different arguments at the state court level.... Another legal question that could come up more often involves churches related to plan sponsors seeking bankruptcy protection."
Pensions & Investments

Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors, Part 8

"The SEC has initiated examinations of investment advisers concerning their practices in working with Senior Clients.... The examination starts with 11 questions about Senior Clients.... [S]ome attorneys believe that the SEC staff view these questions as reflecting the fiduciary practices that investment advisers should already be using to manage the issues unique to Senior Clients."
FredReish.com

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Public Pension Funding Index, First Quarter 2019

"The estimated funded status of the 100 largest U.S. public pension plans jumped from 67.2% at the end of December 2018 to 71% at the end of March 2019 ... The $185 billion increase in the funded status for the first quarter was the largest quarterly increase since the PPFI began in September 2016. The total pension liability continues to grow and stood at an estimated $5.205 trillion at the end of the first quarter 2019, up from $5.164 trillion at the end of the fourth quarter 2018."
Milliman

[Opinion]

The SECURE Act and RESA: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

"[Certain provisions of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act and the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA)] reduce barriers to complicated and opaque 401(k) products and investments favored by many large insurance and mutual fund companies.... [T]hese products and investments are likely to benefit providers more than 401(k) participants.... The fiduciary safe harbor appears to only protect employers from a provider that can't afford to pay promised benefits. The employer would still be responsible for determining whether the lifetime income option is 'prudent' ... A tough job given the complexity of these insurance products."
Employee Fiduciary

[Opinion]

The Coming Public Pension Crisis

"Some states like Kentucky are well past the point of no return. Illinois's public pensions are underfunded by $134 billion and some think it's far worse. Rhode Island's locally run pension plans have close to $2.5 billion in unfunded obligations. According to Pew, New Jersey's public pension system is so underfunded that it could run out of money in 12 years. Colorado could deplete its retirement fund assets by 2044 because the state lacks policies to manage volatile financial markets.... The discount rate US public pensions are using is still too high but states are reluctant to lower it for the simple reason that to do so would require increasing the contribution rate[.]"
Pension Pulse

[Opinion]

Honest Gift to Pay Loans Neglects Duty to Students' Best Interest: A Lesson in Fiduciary Duty

"[F]orgiving college loans can neglect the students' best interest.... [E]ven when done with the best intentions, making life easier for others doesn't always run consistent with the fiduciary duty to look out for their best interests. Unintended Consequence #1: It may overshadow the real issue of college debt ... Unintended Consequence #2: It may enable a tendency to take on personal debt in other areas ... Unintended Consequence #3: It removes a worthy incentive to excel independently (and other positive life enhancing financial behavior)."
Fiduciary News

Benefits in General

Smallest Businesses Lead the Way with Personalized Benefits Education

"47% of employees who work for companies with fewer than 100 employees report understanding their benefits 'very well.' ... Only 33% of employees who have more than 100 coworkers report understanding their benefits that well.... Nearly 25% of employees at the smallest businesses say individual meetings with benefits experts are available to them, compared to just 14% at employers with more than 100 workers. And 37% of the smallest employers have group meetings with HR professionals to discuss benefits, compared to just 29% of larger employers."
Colonial Life

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Short Plan Year; Calculation of Year of Service for Vesting

I have a plan that was created in 2018 with a short plan year from November 1 through December 31, 2018. While they do not have any employer money that is attached to a vesting schedule at this time, my question is: Are hours that count towards a year of service also prorated for a short plan year?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Distribution Paid Too Early to a Terminated Participant

A client called because they were pressured by their platform to approve a distribution and agreed to it. Unfortunately, their document is written so that there is a one-year wait on distributions (because there usually are errors in deposits that we have to reconcile after the end of the plan year). But let's say that we are confident that this particular person has no deposit errors, so the distribution was 'correct' in the amount (vested amount, deposits, etc.), but it's about ten months too early. I know that they've violated the terms of their document, but what is the downside/correction? It's not really an "overpayment," is it?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Mid-Year Safe Harbor Plan Amendment

Took over a plan in which the document excludes highly compensated employees from receiving the safe harbor match. The sponsor now wants to change the plan and give the safe harbor match to everyone. Can I amend mid-year or do I need to wait until January 1, 2020?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

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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 2019 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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