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Retirement Plans Newsletter

June 17, 2021

3 New Job Opportunities


[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Notice 2021-37: Weighted Average Interest Rates, Yield Curves, and Segment Rates for June 2021 (PDF)

"This notice provides guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve, the corresponding spot segment rates ... and the 24-month average segment rates ... [as well as] the interest rate on 30-year Treasury securities ... as in effect for plan years beginning before 2008 and the 30-year Treasury weighted average rate ... In addition to providing these rates for current periods, this notice provides 24-month average segment rates for earlier periods for plan years beginning in 2020 and 2021 ... reflecting the modifications made by Section 9706(a) of [ARPA]."  MORE >>

Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Sponsor] -- Who is Answering Your ERISA Questions?

Noted author and speaker S. Derrin Watson, J.D. is answering questions in our Ask the Author service. Get your answers from Derrin in four business hours or less. Contact us at: or 612-605-2266

Sponsored by Burrmont Compliance Labs LLC

Agenda for ERISA Advisory Council Teleconference Meeting June 24-25; Public Invited to Attend (PDF)

Topics for the 2-day meeting: [1] Understanding brokerage windows in self-directed retirement plans; and [2] Gaps in retirement savings based on race, ethnicity and gender. EBSA has provided separate Webex registration links for June 24 and June 25.  MORE >>

Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

Retirees' Challenge to Actuarial Assumptions Used in MetLife DB Plan Survives Motion to Dismiss (PDF)

"The Court concludes that ERISA requires that Plan administrators use reasonable actuarial assumptions when converting [single life annuities] into alternative benefits.... The alternative interpretation, in which administrators have free reign to fashion the assumptions used to calculate actuarial equivalence, ... would eliminate any protections provided by that requirement.... For similar reasons, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have stated a viable claim under ERISA Section 203." [Masten v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., No. 18-11229 (S.D.N.Y. Jun. 14, 2021)]  MORE >>


Exceptional Usefulness and Quality icon The Economics of Providing 401(k) Plans: Services, Fees, and Expenses, 2020 (PDF)

32 pages. "Key findings [include]: [1] 401(k) plan participants investing in mutual funds tend to hold lower-cost funds.... [2] The expense ratios that 401(k) plan participants incur for investing in mutual funds have declined substantially since 2000.... [3] The downward trend in the expense ratios that 401(k) plan participants incur for investing in hybrid and bond mutual funds continued in 2020.... [4] Employers and employees generally share the costs of operating 401(k) plans."  MORE >>

Investment Company Institute [ICI]

Understanding and Evaluating Retirement Plan Fees

"[S]everal options ... exist for plan sponsors considering how service provider expenses are to be paid by participants.... [1] A built-in method where provider costs are covered through revenue sharing; [2] An institutional method in which participants are assessed a flat fee, and revenue sharing is removed from the investment lineup; and [3] A fee-leveling method where revenue sharing is credited to each participant, and a flat fee is assessed."  MORE >>


Best Practices for Retirement Plan Participant Homepages and Dashboards

"Homepages and plan dashboards can have a significant impact on overall satisfaction with the retirement plan digital experience.... Firms should look to [these] best practices ... [1] Prioritize the data that participants feel is most important. [2] Provide retirement readiness sections with modeling and transactional capabilities. [3] Incorporate design elements and data visualizations to maintain a clean display."  MORE >>

Corporate Insight

Acquiring a 401(k) Plan in an M&A Transaction

"If the company can maintain more than one 401(k) plan after the transaction, then why would we want to merge the plans into a single plan? Is there a time by when we must merge the acquired 401(k) plan into our already-existing 401(k) plan? ... What do I need to know so that I do not miss the deadline to submit an IRS determination letter application on the surviving 401(k) plan?"  MORE >>

Foley & Lardner LLP

Sign Your Plan Document, Warns the IRS

"The IRS ... reiterated this position in a [2019 memorandum] issued by the Office of Chief Counsel. It did so out of concern that sponsors might misinterpret a Tax Court ruling in which the IRS was told it could accept some unsigned documentation, reversing a decision by the IRS to disqualify a plan whose sponsor failed to produce a signed plan document during an audit."  MORE >>


Another Fight Brewing If DOL Revives Fiduciary Rule

"Broker-dealers and investment advisors would usually fall under PTE 2020-02. For insurance agents, the much-older PTE 84-24 would be the likely choice. But the DOL has said it will revisit the exemptions with an eye toward amending or eliminating them. And therein could lie the problem, especially when it comes to how compensation is defined and what compensation is covered under the exemptions."  MORE >>

Current Legislation and Regulatory Outlook: ESG Update

"There have been several recent policy initiatives with respect to ERISA fiduciary policy on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing in retirement plans.  ... Biden Executive Order ... Legislation introduced to authorize ESG investments and repeal DOL's ESG regulation ... Legislation introduced authorizing a 'sustainable investment policy'."  MORE >>

October Three Consulting

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

DOL: Plans May Need to Disclose Claims-Related Audio Recordings

"[EBSA Information Letter 06-14-2021 addresses] when it may be necessary for benefit plans and plan decisionmakers (including insurers in the benefit claims context) to disclose claims-related audio recordings to claimants on request. The DOL's letter rejects the notion that a recording is exempt from disclosure because it was generated for quality assurance purposes."  MORE >>

Thomson Reuters Practical Law

Ninth Circuit: Equitable Estoppel Cannot Be Used to Contradict Express Terms of ERISA Plan

"If the appraiser had overvalued the shares during his appraisal, applying equitable estoppel would require the payment of greater than the fair market value of the shares -- which is forbidden by the plan. Thus, whether a plaintiff or defendant, the court held a party cannot use equitable estoppel to contradict the express terms of an ERISA plan in litigation with the plan." [Wong v. Flynn-Kerper, No. 19-56289 (9th Cir. Jun. 7, 2021)]  MORE >>

Kantor & Kantor

Justice Department Sues to Block Aon's Acquisition of Willis Towers Watson

"The merger between Aon and Willis Towers Watson would combine two of the 'Big Three' insurance brokers who, as alleged in the complaint, can offer global service, sophisticated data and analytics, and a breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise that other brokers do not offer. As alleged in the complaint, Aon and Wills Towers Watson operate 'in an oligopoly' and 'will have even more [leverage] when [the] Willis deal is closed.' If permitted to merge, Aon and Willis Towers Watson could use their increased leverage to raise prices and reduce the quality of products relied on by thousands of American businesses -- and their customers, employees, and retirees." [U.S. v. Aon and Willis Towers Watson, No. 21-1633 (D.D.C. complaint filed Jun. 16, 2021)]  MORE >>

Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice

Using Mandatory Arbitration to Avoid ERISA Class Actions, Part 1 (PDF)

"Provisions mandating arbitration have the potential to curb the ability of participants to pursue class action litigation and, by requiring plaintiffs' counsel to pursue claims on a participant-by-participant basis, may alter the economics that have made it so profitable for law firms to pursue ERISA fiduciary breach litigation. However, there are legal uncertainties regarding whether and how arbitration may be required of ERISA plan participants."  MORE >>

Cohen & Buckmann P.C.

Executive Compensation and Nonqualified Plans

Creating Highly Effective Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans

"[1] Provide NQDC plan investment options that differ from your workplace retirement plan.... [2] Informally fund your NQDC plan--and let participants know about it.... [3] Leverage the flexibility to create tailored NQDC plans.... [4] Prioritize education as part of the plan."  MORE >>


Employee Benefits Jobs

View job as Retirement Plan Administrator
for Premier Plan Consultants Retirement Plan Administrator

Premier Plan Consultants

Telecommute / San Diego CA

View job as Retirement Plan Administrator
for Premier Plan Consultants

View job as 401(k) Specialist
for Coastal Pension Services, LLC 401(k) Specialist

Coastal Pension Services, LLC

Telecommute / Columbia MD

View job as Employee Benefits Law Specialist (Health)
for Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA] Employee Benefits Law Specialist (Health)

Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA]


Press Releases

Vanguard and Infosys Announce Strategic Partnership


Northern Trust Surpasses $1 Trillion in Defined Contribution Assets Under Custody and Administration

Northern Trust

Webcasts and Conferences
(Retirement Plans or Exec Comp)

How Successful Advisors Conduct Annual Retirement Plan Reviews

June 23, 2021 WEBCAST

Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.

Last Issue's Most Popular Items

Arbitration of ERISA Retirement Plan Disputes (PDF)

The Wagner Law Group, via Practical GuidanceĀ®

Resuming Required Minimum Distributions from Retirement Savings Plans

Fulcrum Partners LLC

Liability-Driven Investing and Other De-Risking Strategies for Pension Plans (PDF)

The Wagner Law Group, via Practical GuidanceĀ®

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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587.

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