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Nevin Adams

Nevin Adams

Nevin Adams

By Nevin Adams8/27/2013 • 0 Comments

Planning for retirement is often compared to preparing for a big trip: trying to figure out what you’ll need for the journey, estimating the fuel you’ll need — but ultimately not being precisely sure at the outset how long the trip will last. READ MORE

By Nevin Adams8/20/2013 • 0 Comments

While higher-income individuals have higher account balances, those balances are in rough proportion to their incomes — that is, they are not “upside down,” EBRI Research Director Jack VanDerhei has found. READ MORE

By Nevin Adams8/13/2013 • 3 Comments

“Consumerism” is sometimes touted as a rationale behind the new wave of retirement plan fee disclosures — the presumption being that, if individuals (and plan sponsors) knew, and better understood, what they were paying, they might make different, and “better” decisions. There’s a similar logic afoot with consumer-driven health plans. READ MORE

By Nevin Adams8/5/2013 • 0 Comments

It has become something of a truism in our industry that defined benefit plans are “better” than defined contribution plans. Even the recent (arguably positive) changes in defined contribution design are often said to represent the “DB-ification” of DC plans. READ MORE

Fred Barstein

Fred Barstein

Fred Barstein

By Fred Barstein8/30/2013 • 0 Comments

Does the higher education, 403(b) market offer insights that 401(k) plans should follow, as well opportunities for 401(k) advisors? According to a study by Transamerica, higher ed deferral rates are 13.4% — compared with an average of just over 6% for 401(k) plans. Transamerica attributes the results to more face-to-face meetings at these institutions of higher learning. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/30/2013 • 0 Comments

A federal bankruptcy court ruled this week that the city of San Bernardino’s bankruptcy filing may proceed amid arguments by CalPERS, the state pension fund. San Bernardino was the first entity to stop paying CalPERS, although it recently resumed doing so. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/29/2013 • 3 Comments

There’s a lot of discussion about the efficacy of TDFs that invest only in the fund complex’s investments. Many are predicting that it’s only a matter of time before they’re forced to open up to outside investments, just as record keepers were forced to offer non-proprietary funds more than a decade ago. But is this conventional wisdom true, or even sound? READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/29/2013 • 0 Comments

Industry blogger Michael Kitces raises doubts about the attractiveness of guaranteed living benefit annuity (GLBA) riders, which have the appeal of ensuring a certain withdrawal while providing an upside when markets are strong. By offering a floor with upside potential but lower expected returns and higher costs, GLBAs have turned the proposition sideways, Kitces believes. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/29/2013 • 0 Comments

Larger corporate pension plans are moving to riskier investments, according to recent research by Fitch Ratings. Assets in “Level 3,” which include thinly traded and hard-to-value investments like real estate, rose to 8.5% of total assets, up from 7.8% for the same period a year ago. Sixty-six of the 224 plans profiled have more than 10% in Level 3 investments. And three well-known companies have more than a third of their assets in these riskier investments: Hanesbrand (44%), Verizon (43%) and Kroger (37%). READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/28/2013 • 0 Comments

According to an analysis by EBRI, if President Obama’s budget proposal to cap retirement savings were to go into effect in a higher interest rate environment, one-third of current workers and 75% of small business owners could be affected. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/28/2013 • 1 Comments

Among those advisors lucky enough to have been through a DOL audit, most wish that their clients had been better prepared, with all requested documents and materials gathered ahead of time. In the wake of the 408(b)(2) rules, the DOL’s Philadelphia region recently updated the list of documents that they typically request during an audit. The list is lengthy and although the DOL will typically work with the plan sponsor if additional time is needed to produce the documentation, it’s certainly better to have it ready, which is good practice anyway. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/27/2013 • 0 Comments

In a highly unusual move, T. Rowe Price has permanently banned 2,000 participants in the American Airlines 401(k) plan administered by J.P. Morgan from trading in the four funds available on the menu. News of the ban was uncovered by Reuters. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/27/2013 • 0 Comments

As public pensions are unraveling, with cities like Stockton, San Bernardino and now Detroit burdened by huge retirement obligations owed to workers and now unable to pay their bills, news of private lobbyists entitled to receive benefits is causing concern, the Wall Street Journal reports. Hundreds of lobbying groups in 20 states are entitled to receive retirement and, in some cases, health care benefits because they represent associations of cities, counties and school boards. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/26/2013 • 15 Comments

A few providers are offering a service that levelizes fees for all participants and are claiming that this service will become popular and important with plan sponsors. The issue is that participants don’t pay a percentage of their assets like the plan does — they pay based on the revenue sharing in the funds they purchase, commonly through Sub TA or 12(b)(1) fees. So a participant who selects no revenue-sharing funds could pay nothing to subsidize the costs of the plan, leaving others to carry the load. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/26/2013 • 0 Comments

Centers of influence like CPAs, bankers, attorneys or even other advisors that don’t service DC plans can be the greatest source of leads for a plan advisor. But creating a network of COIs is hard and takes time. A Wall Street Journal article offers a list of common mistakes and suggested solutions. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/26/2013 • 2 Comments

Most parents are concerned about saving for their kids’ college education, as costs continue to rise with no end in sight. Companies can offer a Section 529 college savings plan that acts much like a 401(k) plan, including automatic pretax payroll deductions. For plans with more than 200 employees, it’s common for the plan to be free. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/23/2013 • 0 Comments

Recent M&A data for RIA firms show that while overall deal flow is down, according to both Schwab and Pershing, M&A activity is being driven by RIA shops buying colleagues, not by large consolidators. RIA-to-RIA deals accounted for 58% of the transactions, according to Pershing, up from just 37% in 2012, while 25% of the deals were completed by consolidators, down from 29% last year. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/23/2013 • 0 Comments

Where will the next generation of advisors come from and who will train them? The majority of advisors learn their skills at large institutions like wire houses and insurance networks, with some migrating from the provider world. The problem is that this system engenders very little innovation. There are precious few universities teaching these new advisors in an environment that focuses on experimentation and innovation rather than efficiency and hardcore training aimed at getting advisors out on the street as quickly as possible to start generating revenue. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/22/2013 • 2 Comments

Is all this talk about “smart beta” — or factor weighting — just a game of semantics, or is there a real benefit to moving beyond simple market tracking beta? Advisor Rick Ferri writes that smart beta, or adding on additional factors, only increases risk and costs. Ferri suggests that we should stick to “non-diversifiable market risk,” the definition created by Bill Sharpe, who coined the term “beta.” READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/21/2013 • 5 Comments

Net outflows for actively managed funds over the past five years have been $443 billion — while net inflows for passive funds were $245 billion. Nonetheless, some advisors and experts are predicting a comeback for actively managed investments. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/20/2013 • 0 Comments

While most investors, especially younger ones, will not get much exposure to a DB plan, DC participants can achieve better results if their plans employ the best institutional practices. The latest white paper from the Defined Contribution Institutional Investor Association (DCIIA) addresses fiduciary concerns that plan sponsors may have when “institutionalizing” their DC plans — as well as best practices in doing so. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/20/2013 • 0 Comments

Bucking industry trends and their own longstanding philosophy, Edward Jones will soon start selling a proprietary product on their $90 billion RIA platform. The fund, Bridge Builder Bond, will be managed by a Jones subsidiary using sub-advisors from JP Morgan, Prudential and Baird. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/19/2013 • 0 Comments

Bank of America, Merrill Lynch’s parent, is considering dissolving Merrill Lynch in Q4 just short of its 100th anniversary. Though the brand will remain and no negative impact is expected on advisors and their clients, Merrill Lynch will not exist as a separate entity if the plans go through. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/19/2013 • 0 Comments

In a move that seems to signal that private equity firms are still interested in the retail market — especially retirement — Blackstone and Fidelity recently announced a daily valued mutual fund focused on alternative strategies. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/19/2013 • 0 Comments

While many workers expect to work longer as they realize that their retirement savings are not sufficient or because they enjoy working, a LIMRA study shows that nearly half of people who retire are actually forced to do so because of factors beyond their control. These factors include health issues (17%), job loss as a result of a layoff or buyout (14%) and negative work conditions. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/16/2013 • 3 Comments

It’s hard to get even a few people to agree on anything, but Yale Law School Prof. Ian Ayres’ “love letters” met with a uniform and resounding reaction from the DC industry because of their threatening tone and flawed data and analysis (as well the brand of the institution Prof. Ayres represents). The good professor fell into the same trap that many advisors have encountered: relying on purportedly valid data and focusing solely on fees. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/16/2013 • 0 Comments

Responding to an inquiry from a reader, Michael Kitces details the reasons why there will never be websites that review advisors like there are for restaurants. Advisors are always looking for third-party endorsements, whether from the press or even lists of the “top advisors,” but even those lists have problems if the advisor is required to pay to play. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/15/2013 • 0 Comments

Passive investing is all the rage, taking market share from active funds. But will the new class of passive investments — called “factor” investing or “smart beta” — start to steal market share from their kissing cousins? The answer is yes, according to BlackRock, Schwab and Northern Trust. All three have recently launched smart beta ETFs that take into account value, profitability, size and momentum. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/15/2013 • 0 Comments

As if the news is not bad enough for record keepers (especially regarding several recent court decisions), one legal expert at Drinker Biddle questions whether these service providers may need to register with the SEC if they are receiving payments from mutual fund companies. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/15/2013 • 0 Comments

Getting quoted in the press can be a powerful marketing tool, especially press that prospects read. Even better, it’s free marketing. While the hard part is forming relationships with the right journalists and getting them to call you, once they do, you want to make sure your quote gets published. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/14/2013 • 1 Comments

Fidelity’s burgeoning DCIO group recently released a study of 1,000 plan sponsors with 25-10,000 participants about their satisfaction with their plan advisors. Though 10% of plan sponsors are actively looking to replace their current advisor and 38% are less than satisfied, those numbers have declined in the past four years — signaling the start of a maturing of the market like that experienced by record keepers 10 years ago. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/14/2013 • 0 Comments

Chris Carosa of Fiduciary News raises interesting and disturbing questions about the risk tolerance questionnaires used not only by many major DC providers but also by many advisors — especially those looking to comply with FINRA’s suitability standard. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/13/2013 • 0 Comments

A federal district court in Connecticut ruled that the DC plan administrator is a fiduciary related to its revenue sharing practices regarding funds in a group annuity it manages. As part of the arrangement, ING has the ability to change, add and eliminate investments, and only has to notify the plan sponsor. The court dismissed ING’s motion for summary judgment and ordered the trial to proceed on Sept. 3. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/13/2013 • 1 Comments

With assets growing to a record $4.23 trillion in 2012, who are the top 10 money managers in the DC market? Assets under management range from $523.9 billion for the top provider to $81.9 billion for Number 10. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/12/2013 • 0 Comments

In what could be a watershed decision, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision denying plaintiffs in the Abbott v. Lockheed Martin case class action status. The plaintiffs, who were represented by Jerome Schlichter, were able to win class action status by splitting the classes into those that invested in the same funds. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/12/2013 • 0 Comments

Morningstar recently released their 2013 Q2 “Target-Date Fund Series Rating and Research Reports,” which are one-page analyses of the 22 most widely held TDFs. The reports are good, quick-hit reports from a reliable, unbiased source that advisors can reference and use to help plan sponsors who struggle with ways to explain TDFs to participants. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/7/2013 • 2 Comments

Chris Carosa of Fiduciary News tackles the question that seems to be on many people’s minds: What are the appropriate fees that an employer should pay for its 401(k) plan? Like most difficult questions, the answer is complicated. But perhaps even more important, how can an employer know if its plan fees are appropriate? READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/6/2013 • 1 Comments

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has a plan to solve the looming $2.7 trillion in unfunded state and local pension plans. Rather than go the route of Detroit and file for bankruptcy, Riordan proposes that state and local entities raise money through low-cost bonds guaranteed by the federal government, with costs charged to pensioners through insurance premiums. He also suggests that states and local pension plans agree to use a national, more realistic projected return and reduce some benefits. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/5/2013 • 0 Comments

The SEC and DOL recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) designed to share information and coordinate efforts on matters of mutual interest. The MOU requires regular meetings of DOL and SEC officials, cross-training initiatives and mutual access to non-public information. The obvious area that the MOU could cover is the fiduciary issue. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/5/2013 • 0 Comments

With more and more wirehouse and regional reps turning to a fee-based financial planning model, experts say it’s getting harder for RIAs to distinguish themselves. Even if these reps are not acting as fiduciaries, there’s a huge challenge for RIAs to separate themselves from reps with the same business model. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/2/2013 • 1 Comments

While retirement income products struggle to gain significant traction in DC plans, BlackRock has announced 10 indices to help people approaching retirement calculate how much their savings will generate in income when they turn 65. Five bond funds are linked to these indices that adjust for interest rate and inflation changes as well as lifespan. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/2/2013 • 1 Comments

It’s no secret that DB plans generally outperform DC plans, but the gap in 2011 was striking — almost 3% — according to a study by Towers Watson. DB plans have outperformed DC plans in 13 of the last 17 years, leading over that period by an average of 76 BPs. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/1/2013 • 7 Comments

The once-prominent retirement plan advisor and trustee who touted fiduciary standards was sentenced to 17 years in prison by a federal judge in Boise, Idaho. In April, Hutcheson was convicted of 17 counts of a wire fraud scheme to steal $5 million of pension funds he oversaw to enrich himself and his family as well as buy a cash-strapped resort. Rejecting Hutcheson’s plea to turn himself in later, the judge stated: "You're too smart, you're too devious. You're going to have to serve your time; you might as well start now." READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/1/2013 • 0 Comments

Can a pre- or post-nuptial agreement override a spouse’s retirement plan beneficiary rights under ERISA? According to recent decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the answer is no. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/1/2013 • 0 Comments

Mike Sweeney, a five-time major league baseball all-star, recently filed a suit against his former advisor accusing him of making risky investments without his knowledge and consent. Before Sweeney signed a big contract with the Kansas City Royals in 2002, he was making close to the major league minimum and had told his advisor to invest conservatively, with 73% of assets in muni bonds and other money in large cap stocks when the advisor took over. Over the next five years, Sweeney lost $4.9 million of the $7.6 million invested in private equity investments that Sweeney claims the advisor said was safe. READ MORE

John Carl

John Carl

By John Carl8/27/2013 • 1 Comments

Responding to a question from an advisor in Ohio, the ERISA consultants at the Columbia Management Retirement Learning Center Resource Desk addressed a common owner-only contribution scenario. READ MORE

By John Carl8/20/2013 • 0 Comments

Responding to a question from an advisor in Texas, the ERISA consultants at the Columbia Management Retirement Learning Center Resource Desk addressed a common inquiry involving IRS examinations of qualified retirement plans. READ MORE

By John Carl8/14/2013 • 0 Comments

Responding to a question from an advisor in California, the ERISA consultants at the Columbia Management Retirement Learning Center Resource Desk addressed an inquiry regarding creditor protection for rollovers of qualified retirement plan assets. READ MORE

By John Carl8/6/2013 • 0 Comments

Responding to a question from an advisor in Washington, the ERISA consultants at the Columbia Management Retirement Learning Center Resource Desk addressed an inquiry involving the delivery of plan fee disclosures under ERISA §404(a)(5) and 408(b)(2) under the terms of Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) 2013-02. READ MORE

Marcus Chandler

Marcus Chandler

Marcus Chandler

By Marcus Chandler8/26/2013 • 1 Comments

Presenting metrics and capabilities as your value proposition requires salesmanship. But selling a concept such as your ability to utilize those tools to improve outcomes is an art form. READ MORE

Warren Cormier

Warren Cormier

Warren Cormier

By Warren Cormier8/14/2013 • 0 Comments

Despite plan sponsors’ apparent sense of responsibility, there is a steady and increasing stream of studies concluding that employees are not prepared to retire. So what can be done? And just as importantly, what role can advisors, who are a major force in the industry, play in the retirement readiness solution? READ MORE

By Warren Cormier8/5/2013 • 1 Comments

In the 2013 edition of the DCP Online Survey of 7,000 active DC participants, published in June, we focused on the behavior and attitudes of Job Changers — defined as active participants in DC plans who changed a full-time job in the past three years. READ MORE

Jim Dornan

Jim Dornan

By Jim Dornan8/30/2013 • 0 Comments

As part of the NAPA DC Fly-in Forum Sept. 17-18, top NAPA advisors from all over the country will spread out all over Capitol Hill to lobby members of Congress and their staffs. This very important advocacy project will help educate Congress on the impact of various pieces of legislation, such as tax reform, as well as regulations, such as the pending rule from the Department of Labor regarding the definition of a fiduciary. This is one of the most important functions NAPA members can undertake to help move the industry forward. READ MORE

Brian Graff, Esq.

Brian Graff, Esq.

Brian is the Executive Director of NAPA. In this capacity he oversees NAPA’s operations. As a member of the Leadership Council, he charts the strategic direction for the organization. Brian also serves as ASPPA’s Executive Director/CEO — a post he has held since 1996.

He has been named one of 401kWire’s “50 Most Influential Persons in the 401(k) Industry” every year since 2007.

An attorney and certified public accountant, Brian was formerly Legislation Counsel to the U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Taxation. Prior to working on Capitol Hill, he was associated with The Groom Law Group, in Washington, DC, which specializes in employee benefits. He received his doctoral degree in law, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia. He holds a bachelor of science in accounting with distinction from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

By Brian Graff, Esq.8/12/2013 • 0 Comments

Responding to the recent effort by Prof. Ian Ayres of the Yale Law School to threaten plan sponsors with negative publicity for voluntarily offering their employees “high cost” 401(k) plans, ASPPA sent a letter Aug. 9 — co-signed by plan sponsors who personally received the professor’s letter — to the dean of Yale Law School, Robert C. Post. The letter addresses the flaws of the professor’s research and requests a meeting regarding steps the school should take to address the damage that the professor has done by irresponsibly contacting more than 6,000 plan sponsors based on a faulty premise. READ MORE

Ray Harmon

Ray Harmon

Ray Harmon

By Ray Harmon8/30/2013 • 0 Comments

Qualified plans must treat a same-gender spouse as a spouse for purposes of federal tax laws if the marriage took place in one of the 13 states and the District of Columbia where same-gender marriage is currently legally recognized, under the terms of an IRS Revenue Ruling issued Aug. 29. A couple’s “state of celebration,” rather than the state of residence, will be the determining factor in the federal recognition of same-gender marriages. READ MORE

Jennifer McKibben

Jennifer McKibben

By Jennifer McKibben8/27/2013 • 0 Comments

Last week’s top 5 most-read posts on NAPA Net reflected interest in a liberal think tank’s proposal to abolish the current employer-based retirement system, Yale Law School’s statement asserting they are not responsible for Prof. Ian Ayres’ research, the possibility that Bank of America may dissolve its Merrill Lynch unit, IRS examinations of qualified plans, and an explanation of profit sharing allocation alternatives. READ MORE

By Jennifer McKibben8/22/2013 • 0 Comments

Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” When considering how well something works, first look at the desired outcome. Jerry Ripperger of The Principal outlines a useful framework for creating plan designs that produce desirable outcomes, based on the “Four B’s.” READ MORE

By Jennifer McKibben8/19/2013 • 0 Comments

Last week’s top five most-read posts on NAPA Net reflected keen interest in ASPPA’s response to the dean of Yale Law School regarding Prof. Ian Ayers’ letters to plan sponsors, ING being ruled a fiduciary by a federal district court, what Prof. Ayres’ letters can reveal about the 5500 database, the declining instance of plans switching advisors, and Morningstar’s ratings of the 22 most popular TDFs. READ MORE

By Jennifer McKibben8/15/2013 • 0 Comments

Recent research in the U.K. by Aon Hewitt has unveiled the top five lessons learned by organizations that have already undergone the initial implementation process for auto-enrollment. The research may have been conducted in the U.K., but the lessons translate clearly and directly “across the pond.” READ MORE

By Jennifer McKibben8/12/2013 • 0 Comments

Last week’s top five most-read posts on NAPA Net reflected keen interest in determining the appropriate fees for an employer to pay for its 401(k) plan, Marcia Wagner’s guidelines for a plan sponsor to properly conduct a plan cost review, Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan’s proposition to carry out a federal ‘bailout’ of state and local pension plans, the DOL and SECs new partnership, and why RIAs may be waning in popularity. READ MORE

By Jennifer McKibben8/8/2013 • 0 Comments

A recent survey found that the percentage of companies participating in the survey that offer retiree health benefits dropped from 32% in 2007 to 25% in 2012. (Other surveys have reported much lower numbers.) As retiree health benefits continue to wane, advisors are stepping in to provide guidance and advice to their near-retiree clients on making good choices about health care in retirement. READ MORE

By Jennifer McKibben8/7/2013 • 0 Comments

Not only do individuals who take out 401(k) loans deplete their retirement savings by the sheer act of withdrawing money from their plan, but a recent report from New York Life confirms that those who take out 401(k) loans also contribute to their plan at a lower rate. The average contribution rate for a participant who takes out a loan on his or her 401(k) is 5.63%, compared with 7.23% for participants without loans. READ MORE

By Jennifer McKibben8/5/2013 • 0 Comments

Last week’s top five most-read posts on NAPA Net reflected keen interest in Matt Hutcheson’s prison sentence, participants’ reactions to receiving fee disclosure notices, the dismissal of an ERISA lawsuit against John Hancock, President Obama’s speech on who benefits from DC plans, and which mutual funds are most likely to increase share. READ MORE

By Jennifer McKibben8/5/2013 • 0 Comments

An upcoming NAPA webcast will present an insider’s view of the potential future of small 401(k) plans and the implications of the "SAFE" legislation introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) from Brian Graff, CEO/Executive Director of NAPA and ASPPA, and Judy Miller, ASPPA’s Director of Retirement Policy. The one-hour webcast will air on Sept. 24 at 2:00 ET. It’s free for NAPA members. READ MORE

By Jennifer McKibben8/2/2013 • 0 Comments

Amid the ubiquitous reports over the last five years that Americans are not saving enough to retire, there emerges some much-needed good news regarding IRAs. According to recent research from Fidelity, average balances on IRAs that Fidelity administers topped $81,000 at the end of 2012, a 53% increase from the end of 2008. People in their 60s saw an average 70% increase over the same period, with balances rising to an average of $127,800; those in their 50s saw an 81% increase, with an average balance of $75,700. READ MORE

Rick Meigs

Rick Meigs

By Rick Meigs8/20/2013 • 0 Comments

Ryan Schutty, a regional marketing director with the Principal Financial Group, wrote an interesting blog post last week on how cold calling doesn’t have to be so cold. He notes that when it comes to cold calling, a good way to "warm" it up is by thinking horizontally. READ MORE

John Ortman

John Ortman

By John Ortman8/29/2013 • 1 Comments

In last week’s Question of the Week we asked, “As participants enter their retirement years (about age 65), what is their median balance in all DC plan accounts in their household, including those held by a significant other, partner or spouse?” Here are the responses: READ MORE

By John Ortman8/27/2013 • 0 Comments

Following in the footsteps of their RIA brethren, broker dealers and wire houses are accelerating their use of social media. More importantly, they’re beginning to integrate new media into their marketing and business development efforts — a sign of the increasingly sophisticated view of social media platforms and content that’s taking hold. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/22/2013 • 0 Comments

Employees today are relying more on their employers and demanding more from them. As a result, many larger employers have raised the bar for their DC plans. The result: more pressure on plan advisors and providers to establish and maintain a proactive relationship. While plan sponsors are quite satisfied with their plan providers these days, few indicate that they are receiving a proactive level of service from them. The same can be said with regard to plan advisors and consultants, a new study by JP. Morgan Asset Management found. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/21/2013 • 0 Comments

In last week’s Question of the Week we asked, “What contributes more to a plan sponsor's loyalty, satisfaction and sense of value regarding their advisor?” Here are the results of the voting, expressed in percentages: READ MORE

By John Ortman8/21/2013 • 0 Comments

MBM Advisors, a small advisory firm in Houston, has posted a 10-question FAQ on the requirements and operation of an auto-enroll safe harbor plan. The two-page list covers the basics (“What are the four basic requirements?”) as well as more esoteric issues (“Can I restrict the safe harbor contribution to employees who were employed on the last day of the plan year?”). READ MORE

By John Ortman8/19/2013 • 0 Comments

Most profit sharing/401(k) plan sponsors have a basic understanding of how profit sharing works: that under the tax code, their contributions to the plan must not discriminate in favor of the owners and other highly paid participants. Many business owners interpret this to mean, “I can’t contribute more for myself than I do for my employees,” a white paper from the Manning Napier investment management firm notes. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/15/2013 • 1 Comments

For retirement plan advisors, there’s a silver lining in the dark cloud hanging over public sector DB pension plans: new opportunities in the 403(b) defined contribution market. The pressure being put on public employees’ DB plans has led to “a need to increase both participation rates and contribution rates” in 403(b) plans, Chris DeGrassi, executive director of the National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association (NTSAA), told BenefitsPro in a recent story on the topic. “The demand for investment professionals to engage in and assist in this market has never been higher,” says DeGrassi. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/15/2013 • 0 Comments

In last week’s Question of the Week we asked, “How many face-to-face meetings does it take to close a full-service DC contract?” Looks like the voters were pretty much on the money. In the past, the Boston Research Group has asked this question in its best-practices research. “During the sales process, a best-practices advisor successfully closes a sale, on average, after three face-to-face meetings,” says Warren Cormier, the firm’s president and CEO. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/12/2013 • 0 Comments

An estimate of DC plan participants’ lifetime income based on their accrued benefits, if one is to be included on participants’ benefits statements, should be “concise and easy to administer,” ASPPA has advised the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration in response to EBSA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). READ MORE

By John Ortman8/9/2013 • 1 Comments

It may not turn out to be the very last word on the Prof. Ian Ayres debacle, but a commentary from the estimable Marcia Wagner notes the important obligations that plan sponsors face to monitor and negotiate appropriate 401(k) fees — obligations that the Yale Law School professor’s unfortunate choice of research methodology and questionable motivation serve to highlight. These include performing a suitability analysis and making a determination that the cost of the plan is reasonable in relation to the value of the services it receives. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/9/2013 • 0 Comments

Speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce/AARP conference July 26, Putnam CEO Robert Reynolds offered a three-step plan to improve retirement readiness — including a pretty ambitious new baseline for retirement savings. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/8/2013 • 0 Comments

Professional financial advice as a wedding gift? Or a gift to first-time parents? An uncritical article on the New York Times personal finance website profiles LearnVest, a start-up firm that provides financial advice online. “Financial advice shouldn’t be a luxury,” says Alexa von Tobel, LearnVest’s 29-year-old founder. “We want to disrupt the industry.” READ MORE

By John Ortman8/8/2013 • 0 Comments

Weighing in on the separate regulatory efforts underway at the SEC to establish a uniform fiduciary standard and at the DOL to redefine a fiduciary, 10 Senate Democrats urged the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to ensure that the two agencies coordinate their work. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/7/2013 • 3 Comments

One overlooked factor in the sale of the Washington Post, announced on Monday: a massively overfunded pension plan. With $2.07 billion in assets and facing $1.47 billion in pension liabilities, the plan is overfunded to the tune of $604 million. The Post’s next owner, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, agreed to pay $250 million for the Post and other publishing businesses owned by the Washington Post Co. You do the math. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/7/2013 • 0 Comments

Small business owners are offering and investing in 401(k) plans at rates considerably higher than they were five years ago, according to a nationwide survey by ShareBuilder 401k. Twenty-four percent of the 500 small business owners polled in June now offer a 401(k), up sharply from 10% in 2008. However, a report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, paints a less rosy picture. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/7/2013 • 0 Comments

The reader poll has returned to NAPA Net! The regular poll, which was replaced during June and July by the 2014 NAPA 401(k) Summit poll, has been rechristened “Question of the Week.” It can be found at the bottom of the right column of any page on the portal. Our new Question of the Week: How many face-to-face visits does it take to close a full-service DC contract? Next week we’ll reveal the poll results — as well as the answer to the same question taken from best practice research conducted by Boston Research Group. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/6/2013 • 0 Comments

The upcoming NAPA DC Fly-in Forum, slated for Sept. 17-18 on Capitol Hill, presents both an opportunity to get the straight story on retirement policy from key players in Washington, and an opportunity to make your voice heard on the impact of possible changes in retirement policy, Brian Graff notes in his latest Washington Update video. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/6/2013 • 2 Comments

Risk-averse investors have long turned to deferred income annuities to provide an income stream in retirement. In fact, while the overall annuity market has lagged since the 2008 market crash, DIAs have shined. Sales of nearly every other type of annuity declined in the first quarter of 2013, but investors poured nearly $400 million into DIAs — up 147% from the first quarter of 2012, according to Limra. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/2/2013 • 0 Comments

The final results of our online poll of ideas for sessions at next year’s NAPA 401(k) Summit are in! Here are the top 10 ideas: READ MORE

By John Ortman8/1/2013 • 0 Comments

As we reported last week, the DOL has delayed enforcement of the 2013 round of 404a-5 participant fee disclosures for six months. The analysts at Relius have released two helpful follow-on resources — a technical update taking a deeper dive into the implications of the 404a-5 enforcement delay and a brief FAQ on the status of the 408b-2 service provider disclosures. READ MORE

Andrew Remo

Andrew Remo

By Andrew Remo8/22/2013 • 15 Comments

The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the Obama administration, issued a deeply critical report Aug. 20 on the voluntary employer-based private retirement system. The report concludes that the current situation is so bad for individuals that the entire system needs to be dismantled and replaced with a new “collective defined contribution” arrangement. READ MORE

By Andrew Remo8/5/2013 • 0 Comments

Congress wrapped up its business for the summer last week. The House of Representatives and the Senate are now in recess until Sept. 9. Last week, the House passed bipartisan legislation to address interest rates on federal student loans. There was no “stretch IRA” provision in the final student loan bill. READ MORE