2nd Quarter 2017 Capital Market Review

Q2-2017 Quaterly Market ReviewThe 2nd quarter of 2017 continued the streak of new highs in equity markets.  While this bull market has already lasted longer than most; investors still seem to be overly cautious, expecting a pullback at any moment.  However, this nervousness is likely the reason the pullback has not happened. The longer the nervousness continues, the longer the market can run.  Aiding the uptrend continues to be improving corporate earnings, low unemployment, low interest rates, low inflation, and a much improved consumer balance sheet. Continue reading

The Tools Your Retirement Plan May Be Missing: Auto-Enrollment & Auto-Escalation

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What are your goals for your retirement plan? Are you a plan sponsor reviewing your plan and wondering to yourself, “Why is my plan not performing competitively against others,” or even more so, “How do I increase employee participation in my retirement plan?”

The answer could be, as we will outline in this post, something as simple as adding auto features to your plan design.

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DOL Fiduciary Rule is Here – Are You Prepared?

FiduciaryDutyIn an earlier blog, “DOL Fiduciary Rule Delayed: Future Still Remains Unclear,” we communicated that the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Conflict of Interest Rule (also known as the Fiduciary Rule) would become applicable June 9th, 2017. As a result, after today, investment advice providers to retirement savers will become fiduciaries, and the “impartial conduct standards” will become requirements of the related prohibited transaction exemptions. Continue reading

Pension Consultants Hosts Annual Pension Focus Conference

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Over this past week, Pension Focus hosted another successful year of the Pension Focus Conference (“PFC”).

Hosted at the beautiful Chateau on the Lake in Branson, Missouri, the PFC focuses on providing in-depth, retirement plan management education for both plan fiduciaries and plan administrators.

This year PFC was fortunate to have several speakers from various avenues of retirement plan management ranging from ERISA attorneys, to a consumer behaviorist, to a Department of Labor representative. Among those speakers was our nationally-recognized keynote speaker, Mr. Bradford Campbell, ERISA attorney at Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP. Continue reading

A way forward for the Plan Adviser industry – investment selection and removal

Performance transparency is the plan adviser’s path to a better future. As a group, we need to openly choose to move off of the path we have been on and move onto this new path. The one we have been on was set for us by the historical roots of the financial services industry. That failed path based its “professional” value upon relationships and is leading us off the cliff. Continue reading

Checksmart Excessive Fee Suit Requires Closer Look at Fund Performance

Excessive Fee Lawsuit FiledA recently filed lawsuit attempts to hold plan fiduciaries to what has been an unprecedented standard until now. Previous lawsuits accused plan fiduciaries (with a slight amount of industry knowledge) of what could be considered “a no brainer”: don’t pay too much. If there is an identical or nearly identical investment option offered at a lower cost, choose the lowest cost option. If it is not feasible to switch to the lowest cost option, retain the fund but rebate revenue sharing. Simple, provided you know what you’re looking for. This new lawsuit requires fiduciaries to put more thought into the plan’s fund lineup, particularly with respect to fund expenses relative to fund performance. Continue reading

An Open Letter to the Plan Adviser Industry

Open Letter to Plan Adviser IndustryIt is time for the Plan Adviser profession to move past our relationship mentality, jettison our past and grow into the profession that will serve our clients and us better. Relationships, or more correctly stated, our dependence upon them, are holding us back and threaten the unrealized value of our profession. Continue reading

Lawsuit threats no longer remote possibility for small and mid-sized retirement plans

Lawsuit threats a potential reality for small and mid-size retirement plansThere are three sources of threats to any qualified plan: the DOL, the IRS, and lawsuits. Until recently, lawsuits had only been filed against plans with assets in the billions and had only been filed by Schlichter, a St. Louis-based firm.  The threat of lawsuits seemed remote to small and mid-sized plans; a reality for larger plans only until just recently. On May 18, 2016, a lawsuit was filed in Minnesota by a law firm named Madia, LLC on behalf of Participants of the LaMettry’s Collision, Inc. 401k plan.  The LaMettry’s plan has $9.2 million in assets.  No longer can smaller plans pull the covers over their heads.

The threat of a lawsuit is now real to plans of all sizes.

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Excessive Fee Lawsuits Keep on Coming

We’re now one month into 2016, and on pace to see more excessive fee lawsuits this year than in any previous year.  Schlichter, Bogard & Denton out of St. Louis has filed yet another law suit against a retirement plan sponsor for imprudently selecting and retaining poorly performing mutual funds, allowing participants to be charged excessive record keeping fees, and prohibited transactions between the plan and a party in interest. Continue reading

NOW is the Time to Prepare for the New Money Market Rules

Are you preparing for the new money market rules? If not, you should be.

The new money market fund rules take effect October 2016. Now is the time for you as plan sponsors and fiduciaries to start reviewing your plan’s current money market fund holdings and make decisions on what to do going forward. If you haven’t already made plans to do so, sit down with your plan adviser so they can explain (1) the new rules and (2) how the new rules will affect retirement plans. Continue reading