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February 16, 2021 logo logo
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[Guidance Overview]

DOL's Optical Illusion – Fiduciary Investment Advice Status

"[T]he reinstatement seems to offer great relief to various financial institutions that were possibly ensnared under the DOL's tricky 2016 conflicts of interest rule ... Interpretations by the DOL over the second half of 2020 suggests it will liberally interpret (and enforce) the five-part test for when one becomes an investment advice fiduciary."

Stradley Ronon

[Guidance Overview]

Exceptional Usefulness and Quality iconClosing the Book on Continuing the ERISA 'Best Interest' Debate (PDF)

14 pages. "The scope of and conditions for the 'best interest' exemptions adopted in the Obama and Trump Administrations are far more similar than they are different. In particular, although they use different forms of words, both exemptions adopt the statutory standards of care and loyalty required of ERISA fiduciaries. Where there are differences, Rule 3.0 is often more protective of retirement investors than was BICE."

Eversheds Sutherland

[Guidance Overview]

What Plan Sponsors Need to Be Thinking About in 2021

"In response to three recent tax bills, employers are implementing new provisions that both improve engagement with retirement plan participants and alleviate their own administrative burdens. Now that the dust has settled from 2020, business owners can more clearly see how these three pieces of legislation work in tandem as they and their plan participants head into 2021."

Meaden & Moore

[Guidance Overview]

PBGC Issues Final Rule with Simplified Methods for Withdrawal Liability Calculations

"[T]he preamble is clear that plan sponsors are not required to use the simplified methods. Although the PBGC will not approve any alternative methods on a plan-by-plan basis, the preamble notes that plan sponsors are welcome to informally consult with the PBGC on the use of alternative methods."


Stock Drop Case 'Dropped' Again

"Once again, plaintiffs find the 'more harm than good' bar too high to clear in employer stock litigation." [Varga v. General Electric Co., No. 20-1144 (2d Cir. Feb. 4, 2021; unpub.)]

American Retirement Association [ARA]

Plan Design During Challenging Times: Actionable Insights from Behavioral Finance (PDF)

12 pages. "[If] we make it easy to draw down savings, how can we make it even easier to accumulate savings once the hardship is over? It's an especially crucial question given that policy makers also made it easier for workers to pull out savings during the Great Recession of 2008-2009.... This whitepaper proposes changes to plan design that can boost savings once the economy recovers."

VOYA Financial

What Large Employers Want in a Financial Wellness Program

"[1] Customization ... [2] Integration ... [3] Demonstrable effectiveness ... [4] A holistic approach ... [5] Established track record."

401(k) Specialist

House Set to Move Pension Funding Relief, Multiemployer Reforms

"Many provisions ... come from last year's House-approved [HEROES] Act. A new provision would permanently freeze the indexing of certain qualified plan limits, beginning in 2030."


New York Lawmakers Propose Early Retirement Incentives for Public Employees

"The bill ... would create early retirement incentives for workers 55 and older who have 10 years of service with state or workers with 25 years of government service.... The bill comes as local government finances have been scrambled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenue from the sales tax, for instance, dropped 10% statewide."

Spectrum News


How Fares the World's Largest 401(k) Plan?

"During TSP's history (the plan was founded in 1986), the investment markets have been extraordinarily generous.... If the board is to be criticized for anything, it is that one third of TSP assets rest in the short-government fund, its equivalent of a cash account."

John Rekenthaler in Morningstar; free registration required


Cryptocurrency: The Future of Pension Funds?

"[N]early 80% of institutional investors said they find something appealing about digital assets, with the three almost equally compelling characteristics being that it is uncorrelated to other asset classes; is an innovative technology play; and has a high potential for upside."

Institute for Pension Fund Integrity [IPFI]

Benefits in General

Exceptional Usefulness and Quality icon2020 Year-End ERISA Disputes Update

"This 2020 year-end update ... [1] highlights four notable opinions from the United States Supreme Court ... [2] provides a summary of hot topics in ERISA class-action litigation ... [3] addresses evolving procedural issues ... [and] [4] offers an overview of key issues in health plan litigation[.]"

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Employer Considerations Before Implementing Emergency Savings Accounts

"[1] Make it voluntary.... [2] Think of it as an adjunct to your retirement plan, not an obstacle.... [3] Consider a matching contribution.... [4] Ensure ease of access to savings.... [5] Supplement with other financial wellness tools."

E is for ERISA

Press Releases

OneDigital Welcomes Atlanta Retirement Partners
OneDigital Health and Benefits

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

In Memoriam: Peter E. Haller
Willkie Farr & Gallagher

T. Rowe Price ERISA Self-Dealing Lawsuit Will Go to Trial
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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 2021, 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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