June Retirement Plan Newsletter 2019

June Retirement Plan Newsletter 2019

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

JUne RETIREMENT PLAN NEWSLETTER

MILLENNIALS KNOW IT ALL. BUT, ARE THEY SAVING FOR RETIREMENT?

Millennials

Millennials – they’ve infiltrated the workplace and bring expertise in social media, individuality, technology and hipster bars. But, what do they know about saving for retirement? Typically, younger people don’t make retirement savings a priority. Living expenses, student debt, rent or house payments, and other day-to-day expenses mean that retirement savings take a back seat. In fact, a Franklin Templeton Investments survey from January 2016 says that 40 percent of millennials don’t have a retirement plan in place, and 57 percent haven’t started saving.1 That attitude, however, will make it much more difficult to have a secure retirement later,  according to seasoned retirement plan advisors.

The main thing that millennials are sacrificing by not saving now is time. Time allows funds to grow through compounding, and that can turn relatively modest savings into much larger nest eggs. For example, saving $50 each month in a retirement account earning 6.5 percent annually and compounded monthly would generate retirement savings of $226,781 over 50 years. A millennial who starts saving the same amount 30 years later, allowing it to only compound for 20 years, would have only $24,525 at the end of the 20 years.2

And $50 each month isn’t a huge amount, even for a cash-strapped millennial. Some other retirement savings tips you can share with your millennial employees are:

  • Take full advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans, like 401(k) or 403(b) plans. Funds contributed to these tax-advantaged programs grow free of taxes, which means more money stays in the account to generate interest.
  • Contribute at least as much as your employer is willing to match. If your employer matches three percent of your salary, you should start by contributing that much.
    • Otherwise, you’re “leaving money on the table.” Your employer match instantly increases your contribution, and your money grows faster.
  • Don’t worry about not being an investment expert. Many retirement plans now offer target-date funds (TDFs). Also known as lifecycle or age-based funds, TDFs automatically adjust your investment assets as you age, so you don’t need to balance your funds yourself.

One common objection millennials have about contributing to an employer-based retirement fund is that they may not stay with that employer. Actually, very few people stay with a single employer for their entire careers, and they should be reminded that retirement plan funds can be rolled over into a new employer’s plan or rolled over into an IRA if they leave their job.

 

¹http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2016-05-27/who-needs-a-retirement-plan-apparently-not-millennials

2http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/simple-savings-calculator.aspx

 

About the Author, Jamie Hayes

Jamie has over 10 years of experience in employer retirement plan fiduciary services and corporate pension consulting. Jamie works extensively with matters pertaining to the financial operation of employer-sponsored retirement plans. Jamie combines powerful behavioral finance strategies with the maximization of fiduciary risk management to help promote retirement confidence for both employers and employees. Jamie graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and high honors from University of Michigan.

THE EVOLVING WORKSCAPE

Longevity, demographic changes and technological innovation have revolutionized the world of work.

As many employers face a coming wave of baby-boomer retirements, the resulting gaps in unique skills, experience and institutional knowledge may be difficult to fill. Keeping mature workers engaged may help ensure that your company retains the employee knowledge necessary to compete.1 Going forward, successful workplaces will not only leverage the skills and institutional knowledge of mature workers, but also ensure that the expertise mature workers possess is shared with other employees.

Here’s how:

  • Offer educational opportunities
  • Be flexible
  • Promote collaboration

Offer Educational Opportunities

More than 80 percent of workers age 45 to 64 say the opportunity to learn something new is critical to them, and over 70 percent say that job training is an essential element of that ideal employment.1

Experienced workers are eager to get additional training so they can keep their skills sharp and make themselves more employable.

While large employers with abundant resources may already be providing this training, smaller companies can still manage to do this and reap the benefits. Assess your company’s existing training model and determine opportunities for bolstering your employees’ skillsets.

  1. Use free or low-cost options

Highly skilled employees might be your best trainers. Ask them to pass on their skills and knowledge to others.

  1. Promote internal learning opportunities

Don’t limit your training offerings. Host a variety of training and business building sessions and engage with your employees to find out what they like, don’t like, and what they want to learn more about.

  1. Subsidize training programs

Thanks to modern technology, there are more educational opportunities than ever before, such as online courses and tuition reimbursement programs.

 

Be Flexible

Workplace flexibility is a way to attract talent because it accommodates active lifestyles and child or eldercare. One study revealed that 77 percent of millennials think that flexibility is not only desirable but also is key to productivity. The idea is also appealing to baby boomers, who are seeking flexibility as they near their retirement years.2

  1. Evaluate your company’s existing policies. Which aspects do you currently offer?
  • Flexible hours
  • Working remotely
  • Job sharing
  1. Consider offering part-time work or a phased retirement

Promote Collaboration

Employees of all ages can benefit from a sense of community in the workplace. Sharing ideas is one way to foster this feeling. Whether it’s informal with shadowing and project partnerships, or formal with mentorship and reverse mentorship programs, generational and experiential differences are a learning opportunity.

  1. Brainstorming

Brainstorming brings employees together to work toward a common goal by offering various perspectives and solution.

  1. Create a reverse-mentorship program

In this program, older employees can pick up something fresh from their younger counterparts. For example, those who are less skilled at using technology might rely on another employee to teach them how to use a certain application or tool. Conversely, more experienced employees can teach younger ones how to develop business and share valuable insights.

  1. Provide spaces that support all of the above

Employees are more likely to be happy and collaborative when they have places to meet together comfortably, participate in training or seminars, or work independently when necessary.

In the workscape of tomorrow, employees of traditional “retirement age” want more, and workplaces must adapt if they want their business to succeed. In order to retain and attract the best talent across generations, including would-be retirees, it is critical to:

  • Offer educational opportunities for employees hungry to learn;
  • Be flexible to accommodate the employees with different lifestyles; and
  • Promote collaboration to foster a community and creative thinking.

People are living longer, better lives. And the happiest, most productive workplaces are those that are adapting to support these lifestyle changes.

 

1Employers Need To Train Their Older Workers, Too. Forbes.com. Oct. 17, 2017.

2More Than Avocado Toast: How Millennials Will Make Retirement Better For Baby Boomers. Forbes.com. Jan. 29, 2018.

This article was contributed by our valued partner, Hartford Funds, with minor edits made for spacing reasons.

HEY JOEL!

Welcome to Hey Joel! This forum answers plan sponsor questions from all over the country by our in-house former practicing ERISA attorney.

Hey Joel,

Should stable value information be included in our investment policy statement? – Paranoid in Portland

Hey Paranoid,

The cash or principal preservation alternatives can be quite varied in scope. As a result it is extremely difficult to create language that would be widely applicable to all vehicles available for such plan goals. Money market funds, stable value funds, guaranteed income contracts, and general accounts are very different in their design, tertiary goals, holdings, and regulatory aspects. Thus one set of standard specific criteria would be unwise for an IPS.  The primary goal of these vehicles in an efficient plan investment menu is the preservation of principal and minimization of risk. Thus focusing on the credit quality and stability of the provider are appropriate as primary criteria. Note that our IPS template states that criteria should include “credit quality, diversification and stability of insurance provider” but, it also states that criteria “should not be limited to” those items. Thus other criteria are well within the scope of what fiduciaries may, and perhaps should, be reviewing depending on the type of vehicle being utilized. As a result our team of former practicing ERISA attorneys is confident in this language. Supporting that confidence is the fact that over 40 independent ERISA attorneys have reviewed our IPS template and provided comment and none of them provided any additional recommended language or edits in regards to this particular language.

 

Dispelling Paranoia,

Joel Shapiro

 

About Joel Shapiro, JD, LLM

As a former practicing ERISA attorney Joel works to ensure that plan sponsors stay fully informed on all legislative and regulatory matters. Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and his Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at the American University.

PARTICIPANT CORNER: MILLENNIALS START SAVING NOW!

This month’s employee memo informs young participants, particularly millennials, about the benefits of saving early. Download the memo from your Fiduciary Briefcase at fiduciarybriefcase.com and distribute to your participants. Please see an excerpt below.

Typically, younger people don’t make retirement savings a priority. Living expenses, student debt, rent or house payments, and other day-to-day expenses mean that retirement savings take a back seat. In fact, a Franklin Templeton Investments survey from January 2016 says that 40 percent of millennials don’t have a retirement plan in place, and 57 percent haven’t started saving.1 That attitude, however, will make it much more difficult to have a secure retirement later, according to seasoned retirement plan advisors.

The main thing that millennials are sacrificing by not saving now is time. Time allows funds to grow through compounding, and that can turn relatively modest savings into much larger nest eggs. For example, saving $50 each month in a retirement account earning 6.5 percent annually and compounded monthly would generate retirement savings of $226,781 over 50 years. A millennial who starts saving the same amount 30 years later, allowing it to only compound for 20 years, would have only $24,525 at the end of the 20 years.2

And $50 each month isn’t a huge amount, even for a cash-strapped millennial. Some other retirement savings tips include:

  • Take full advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans, like 401(k) or 403(b) plans. Funds contributed to these tax-advantaged programs grow free of taxes, which means more money stays in the account to generate interest.
  • Contribute at least as much as your employer is willing to match. If your employer matches 3 percent of your salary, you should start by contributing that much.
    • Otherwise, you’re “leaving money on the table.” Your employer match instantly increases your contribution, and your money grows faster.
  • Don’t worry about not being an investment expert. Many retirement plans now offer target-date funds (TDFs). Also known as lifecycle or age-based funds. TDFs automatically adjust your investment assets as you age, so you don’t need to balance your funds yourself.

One common objection millennials have about contributing to an employer-based retirement fund is that they may not stay with that employer. Actually, very few people stay with a single employer for their entire careers, and retirement plan funds can be rolled over into a new employer’s plan or rolled over into an IRA if you leave your job.

 

1http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2016-05-27/who-needs-a-retirement-plan-apparently-not-millennials

2http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/simple-savings-calculator.aspx

DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Lutz Financial (“Lutz”), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Lutz.  To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  Lutz is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  A copy of the Lutz’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please Note: If you are a Lutz client, please remember to contact Lutz, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Lutz shall continue to rely on the accuracy of information that you have provided.

For more important disclosure information, click here.

RECENT LUTZ FINANCIAL POSTS

May Retirement Plan Newsletter

This month’s newsletter contains insights on ways to increase employee retirement contributions, investment options, reasons to roll into your employer’s plan vs. an IRA, and more…

read more

Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

VIEW MODIFIED SUMMER HOURS HERE

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

601 P Street, Suite 103

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

May Retirement Plan Newsletter

May Retirement Plan Newsletter

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

MAY RETIREMENT PLAN NEWSLETTER

FOUR WAYS TO INCREASE EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT CONTRIBUTIONS

 As a retirement plan sponsor, you want your employees to save the most they can in order to reach their maximum retirement potential. A significant amount of research says that you can improve both employee participation and their saving rates. Here are four ways you can help your employees start building a confident retirement:

  1. Boost employee participation with automatic enrollment. Choosing to automatically enroll all new employees in your retirement plan can dramatically improve your participation rates. According to the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College, in one study of automatic enrollment, participation increased by 50 percent, with the largest gains among younger and lower-paid employees.1 While auto-enrolled employees are allowed to opt out of the retirement plan, most generally stay enrolled.
  2. Set the initial default contribution rate higher. Many companies who use auto-enrollment set their default contribution rate relatively low at 3 percent, according to the CRR, which is lower than the typical employer match rate of 6 percent. Workers who might have contributed more to their savings passively accept the lower default rate, which means they’re sacrificing employer matching funds along with saving less of their own pay.
  3. Adopt auto escalation. Plans that use auto escalation automatically increase their participants’ contribution rate every year, typically by 1 percent. Over time, that can significantly improve savings rates among workers. The CRR cites a 2013 study of Danish workers where the majority of workers who experienced automatic increases simply accepted them, and savings rates dramatically increased.
  4. Automate investment decisions with target date investment products. Investing is complicated, and many employees don’t want to take the time to learn how to manage their portfolios. Target date strategies automatically adjust an employee’s investment allocations over time, shifting them to a more conservative asset mix as the target date (typically retirement) approaches. The ease of use of target date funds means their popularity is increasing. The CRR notes that in 2014, nearly 20 percent of all 401(k) assets were in target date funds, and about half of plan participants used target date funds.2

1http://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/IB_16-15.pdf

2http://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/IB_17-2.pdf

 

About the Author, Michael Viljak

Michael joined RPAG in 2002 and has over 30 years of experience in the retirement plan industry, on both the wholesale and retail levels, focusing on retirement plans ever since their inception in 1981. Michael has an interest in fiduciary-related topics and was part of the team that created RPAG’s proprietary Fiduciary Fitness Program. He also authors many of the firm’s newsletter articles, communication pieces and training modules.

HOW MANY INVESTMENT OPTIONS SHOULD YOU OFFER?

 Many plan sponsors struggle with deciding how many investment options to offer in their retirement plans. While people generally like to have lots of options when making other decisions, having too many plan options can potentially lead to poor investment decisions by plan participants. In addition, increasing plan options can also increase plan costs, as well as the administrative paperwork associated with the plan.

In a study on retirement plan options, researchers concluded that it is possible to present plan participants with too many options.1 The researchers began by offering people selections of jams and chocolates. Some were offered a wide variety, while others received less choices. The wide variety of jams attracted more attention from people, but more people purchased jams when offered limited choices. When sampling chocolates, people enjoyed choosing from the larger selection more, but also were more dissatisfied with the choices. Those who sampled from a smaller selection were more satisfied and more likely to buy chocolates again. In other words, as the number of options increased, people became more concerned by the possibility of making the “wrong” choice–they became uncertain that they had made the best choice possible. 

Chocolates and jams aren’t very big decisions, but the researchers found that these same behaviors carried over to retirement plans. They examined participation rates for 647 plans offered by the Vanguard Group, a large investment management company, covering more than 900,000 participants. They found that as plans increased the number of options they offered, employee participation decreased. In fact, for every 10 options added to the plan, participation dropped by 1.5-2 percent. Plans offering fewer than 10 options had significantly higher employee participation rates.

In addition, more plan options can increase costs both for participants, in the form of fees, and for plan sponsors, who may face additional administrative charges from third party administrators for additional options. Further, auditing and other costs may increase, since the number of options could increase the time necessary to conduct audits.

It’s important to balance choice overload against the requirements of ERISA Section 404(c) which requires plan sponsors to have at least three diversified investment options with different risk and return characteristics.

1 http://www.columbia.edu/~ss957/articles/How_Much_Choice_Is_Too_Much.pdf

HEY JOEL!

Welcome to Hey Joel! This forum answers plan sponsor questions from all over the country by our in-house former practicing ERISA attorney.

Hey Joel,

What’s the appropriate number of members and positions for a retirement plan committee? – Plannin’ in Pennsylvania

Dear Plannin’,

There is no specific guidance on the appropriate number of committee members. It’s important to have committee members who can contribute to the topics to be focused on. When there is one committee, as opposed to separate committees (for investments, plan design, employee communications, etc.) perhaps a CEO and/or CFO, an administrative executive and a participant communications representative would be appropriate committee members.

Ideally, these would be people who want to be on the committee to make a contribution to plan success and who are willing to accept fiduciary responsibilities, not the least of which is personal financial liability in event of a fiduciary breach. (Our Fiduciary Fitness Program (FFP) is designed to substantially mitigate this liability if followed appropriately.)

You can also have, as a regular or a non-voting member (guest with no intent as fiduciary), someone who can represent an employee base.

Most importantly, when setting up a committee, is to determine who the “named fiduciary” for the plan is. The named fiduciary will be identified in the plan document and this person or entity is the primary fiduciary for the plan. Note, if the named fiduciary is listed as “the Company” this is interpreted to mean the board of directors (if a C corporation or managing partners, if a partnership). The named fiduciary is expected to be the entity who has the authority to decide to have a retirement plan. The named fiduciary can delegate the majority of their fiduciary duties to co-fiduciaries (e.g., a retirement plan steering committee). Typically they would be anxious to do so as they likely would not want to be responsible for day-to-day management of the plan. The Committee Charter and ancillary paperwork (in our FFP) is designed expressly for this purpose.

 

The Committee Planner Extraordinaire,

Joel Shapiro

 

About Joel Shapiro, JD, LLM

As a former practicing ERISA attorney Joel works to ensure that plan sponsors stay fully informed on all legislative and regulatory matters. Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and his Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at the American University.

PARTICIPANT CORNER: TEN REASONS TO ROLL INTO YOUR EMPLOYER'S PLAN VERSUS AN IRA

This month’s employee memo informs participants about the benefits of joining their employer’s plan versus an IRA. Download the memo from your Fiduciary Briefcase at fiduciarybriefcase.com and distribute to your participants. Please see an excerpt below.

Do you have retirement plan assets with a former employer’s plan that you’re not sure what to do with? Review the pros and cons of consolidating into your current employer’s retirement plan versus an individual retirement account (IRA).

1. Performance results may differ substantially.

 As an institutional buyer, a retirement (401(k), 403(b), 457, etc.) plan may be eligible for lower cost versions of most mutual funds. Cost savings with institutional share classes can be considerable and can have significant impact on long-term asset accumulation, which benefits you.

 One recent study by the Center for Retirement Research indicated that the average return retirement plan participants experienced was nearly 41 percent greater than other investors. Share class savings likely contributed to this result.

2. The IRA rollover balance may be too small to meet minimum investment requirements.

 Many of the low expense mutual fund share classes available to investors outside of retirement plans have minimum investment requirements in excess of $100,000. Some are $1 million or more. As a result, the average retirement plan participant who rolls a balance into an IRA may not have access to certain investments and/or will often end up investing in one of the more expensive retail share classes.

3. IRA investment advisors may not be fiduciaries.

 In a 401(k) or 403(b) plan (and even many 457 plans), both the employer and the plan’s investment advisor may be required to be a fiduciary. This means that investment decisions they make must be in the best interests of plan participants. This is the golden rule of fiduciary behavior and if not explicitly followed can lead to heavy economic impact to those organizations.

 A non-fiduciary IRA broker or advisor is not necessarily required under law to act in the client’s best interests, and as a result, there is the possibility that their recommendations may be somewhat self-serving.

4. Stable value funds are not available.

 While money market funds are available to IRA investors, they do not have access to stable value funds or some guaranteed products that are only available in qualified plans. Historically money market fund yields have often been below that of stable value or guaranteed interest fund rates.

5. IRAs typically apply transaction fees.

 Many IRA providers require buy/sell transaction fees on purchases and sales. Retirement plans typically have no such transaction costs.

6. Qualified retirement plans (like 401(k), 403(b), and 457) offer greater protection of assets against creditors.

 Retirement plan account balances are shielded from attachment by creditors if bankruptcy is declared. In addition, retirement balances typically cannot be included in judgments.

7. Loans are not available in IRAs.

Loans from an IRA are not allowed by law, unlike many qualified retirement plans which may allow for loans. Although we do not generally recommend you take loans from your retirement plan, as they may hinder savings potential, some individuals prefer having such an option in the event they run into a financial emergency. Also, as a loan is repaid through payroll deduction, participants pay themselves interest at a reasonable rate.

8. Retirement plan consolidation is simple and convenient.

It is easier and more convenient for you to manage your retirement plan nest egg if it is all in the same plan rather than maintaining multiple accounts with previous employers or among multiple plans and IRAs.

9. Retirement savings via payroll deductions are convenient and consistent.

The convenience of payroll deductions is very helpful for consistent savings and achieving the benefit of dollar cost averaging.

10. For present retirement savings strategies, retirement plans can provide greater savings than IRAs.

The law allows you to make a substantially larger contribution to many retirement plans than you can save with an IRA.

 

Although personal circumstances may vary, it may be a good idea for you to rollover your balance in a former employer’s retirement plan into your current employer’s plan rather than an IRA. Your savings potential will not be as limited as with an IRA.

DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Lutz Financial (“Lutz”), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Lutz.  To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  Lutz is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  A copy of the Lutz’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please Note: If you are a Lutz client, please remember to contact Lutz, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Lutz shall continue to rely on the accuracy of information that you have provided.

For more important disclosure information, click here.

Q2 FIDUCIARY HOT TOPICS

RETIREMENT IS A LONG WAY OFF UNTIL IT'S NOT - SHOULD I SUPPLEMENT MY RETIREMENT SAVINGS WITH AN IRA?

IRAs are an effective way for individuals covered by employer-sponsored retirement plans to supplement their retirement savings. Anyone can make IRA contributions up to the annual limit. For 2019, this limit is $6,000, plus an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000 for taxpayers 50 and older. For traditional IRAs, contributions are tax deductible in the year made. Taxes are deferred on both contributions and earnings until the year withdrawn. For Roth IRAs, contributions are after tax and withdrawals (if certain requirements are satisfied) are completely tax free, including earnings.

While everyone with income can contribute to an IRA, there are phase-outs for high earners. These phase-outs reduce or eliminate the ability to make deductible or Roth contributions. The phase-outs for deductible contributions only apply to individuals covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan.  The phase-outs for Roth contributions apply to all high earners.

  • Individuals subject to these phase-outs can still make nondeductible contributions. Nondeductible contributions to an IRA are advantageous as taxes are deferred on earnings until the year withdrawn. This can be especially attractive for individuals who expect to be in a lower tax bracket after retirement.
  • For 2019, if covered by a retirement plan, the phase-outs for deductible contributions are:
    • Single taxpayers: $64,000 – $74,000
    • Married filing jointly:
      • For the spouse covered by a plan: $103,000 – $123,000
      • For the spouse not covered by a plan: $193,000 – $203,000
  • For 2019, for all individuals, the phase-outs for Roth contributions are:
    • Single taxpayers: $127,000 – $132,000
    • Married: $193,000 – $203,000

WELLS FARGO - PRINCIPAL AGREES TO BUY RETIREMENT BUSINESS

Wells Fargo sold off a number of business units in an effort to better focus on its core banking business. In the latest deal, Principal Financial Group agreed to purchase Wells Fargo’s retirement and trust services business for $1.2 billion. This is a substantial acquisition. This business represents $827 billion in retirement plan assets with 7.5 million participants. This transaction will increase Principal’s footprint in the mid-size market as the majority of Wells Fargo’s plans range from $10 million to $1 billion in assets. In terms of assets, Principal will become the third largest recordkeeper, trailing only Vanguard and Fidelity. It is possible significant layoffs will occur as this transaction is obviously attractive to Principal because of the opportunity to achieve economies of scale.  This is part of an ongoing wave of consolidation in the industry that includes a number of significant acquisitions: Empower- JP Morgan, John Hancock – New York Life, and One America – Bank of Montreal.

DOL'S NEW FIDUCIARY RULE & THE SEC'S BEST INTERESTS RULE - IS NO NEWS GOOD NEWS?

 Neither the Department of Labor (DOL) nor the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has given any indication of how they are progressing with their new respective fiduciary rules. Last year, both agencies said they would publish their respective rules in September of this year. At this point, it seems unlikely either agency will meet this deadline. Additionally, it is possible these rules may never materialize due to the current administration’s general view on regulations.

In March of last year, almost 10 years after the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule was first proposed, the Fifth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated the rule in its entirety. The DOL elected not to appeal to the Supreme Court. Quickly following this decision, and to no one’s surprise, the SEC issued a package of its own proposed advice standards. This includes a “Regulation of Best Interest.” The Commission indicated that a final rule would be forthcoming this fall.

In October, DOL released its regulatory agenda for 2019 which includes plans to issue a revised Fiduciary Rule in September of 2019.  The essence of the DOL’s original Fiduciary Rule was that persons advising plans, participants or IRA holders, are acting as fiduciaries and may only make recommendations that are in the “best interests of the client.” The SEC’s new rule goes beyond the existing rule of suitability and requires that brokers and advisors put the best interests of their clients ahead of their desire to make money. Both rules have generated controversy. They have been criticized as unnecessary and overly complex (DOL’s rule is 176 pages long and the SEC’s proposed rule is almost 1,000 pages). The DOL’s rule experienced challenges in the courts on the grounds that the attempt to regulate the financial services industry went beyond the Department’s statutory authority. Although the aims of these two agencies are similar, they have made no attempt to coordinate their efforts.

LITIGATION UPDATE: ABB SETTLES FOR $55 MILLION

ABB recently announced the settlement of a lawsuit involving its 401(k) Plan. This settlement is another victory for the law firm of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton in St. Louis. Earlier this year, it obtained a $10 million settlement in a suit brought against Duke University. Filed in 2013, this suit has now dragged on for almost 13 years. It was one of the first class action suits against a retirement plan under ERISA. As in all such class actions, the plan in question is substantial. ABB has 24,000 employees and about $2 billion in plan assets. The alleged fiduciary violations are typical for these kinds of suits – poor investment choices and excessive fees that, in this case, were used to subsidize services provided to other plans. The case went to trial in 2010, resulting in a $36 million judgment for the plaintiffs. On appeal, the judgment was overturned and the case remanded for further proceedings.  The Schlichter firm has obtained large settlements in other class actions including $57 million against Boeing and the largest settlement to date in these types of suits – $62 million against Lockheed Martin. Attorney’s fees and other details of the settlement have yet to be announced.

RECENT LUTZ FINANCIAL POSTS

May Retirement Plan Newsletter

This month’s newsletter contains insights on ways to increase employee retirement contributions, investment options, reasons to roll into your employer’s plan vs. an IRA, and more…

read more

Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

VIEW MODIFIED SUMMER HOURS HERE

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

601 P Street, Suite 103

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

April Retirement Plan Newsletter

April Retirement Plan Newsletter

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

APRIL RETIREMENT PLAN NEWSLETTER

TEN REASONS TO ROLL OVER INTO YOUR PLAN VERSUS AN IRA

 TEN REASONS TO ROLL OVER INTO YOUR PLAN VERSUS AN IRA

Do you have employees in a prior employer’s retirement plan? Should they transfer these assets to a personal IRA or into your employer-sponsored retirement plan?

Review the pros and cons of an individual retirement account (IRA) versus consolidating into the current retirement plan with your employees to help them make this decision.

 

  1. Performance results may differ substantially.

As an institutional buyer, a retirement (401(k), 403(b), 457, etc.) plan may be eligible for lower cost versions of most mutual funds. Cost savings with institutional share classes can be considerable and can have significant impact on long-term asset accumulation.

One recent study by the Center for Retirement Research indicated that the average return retirement plan participants experienced was nearly 41 percent greater than other investors. Share class savings likely contributed to this result.

 

  1. The IRA rollover balance may be too small to meet minimum investment requirements.

Many of the low expense mutual fund share classes available to investors outside of retirement plans have minimum investment requirements in excess of $100,000. Some are $1 million or more. As a result, the average retirement plan participant who rolls a balance into an IRA may not have access to certain investments and/or will often end up investing in one of the more expensive retail share classes.

 

  1. IRA investment advisors may not be fiduciaries.

In a 401(k) or 403(b) plan (and even many 457 plans), both the employer and the plan’s investment advisor may be required to be a fiduciary. This means that investment decisions they make must be in the best interests of plan participants. This is the golden rule of fiduciary behavior and if not explicitly followed can lead to heavy economic impact to those organizations.

A non-fiduciary IRA broker or advisor is not necessarily required under law to act in the client’s best interests, and as a result, there is the possibility that their recommendations may be somewhat self-serving.

 

  1. Stable value funds are not available.

While money market funds are available to IRA investors, they do not have access to stable value funds or some guaranteed products that are only available in qualified plans. Historically money market fund yields have often been below that of stable value or guaranteed interest fund rates.

 

  1. IRAs typically apply transaction fees.

Many IRA providers require buy/sell transaction fees on purchases and sales. Retirement plans typically have no such transaction costs.

 

  1. Qualified retirement plans (like 401(k), 403(b), and 457) offer greater protection of assets against creditors.

Retirement plan account balances are shielded from attachment by creditors if bankruptcy is declared. In addition, retirement balances typically cannot be included in any judgments.

7. Loans are not available in IRAs.

Loans from an IRA are not allowed by law, unlike many qualified retirement plans which may allow for loans. Although we do not generally recommend participants take loans from their retirement plan, as they may hinder savings potential, some individuals prefer having such an option in the event they run into a financial emergency. Also, as a loan is repaid through payroll deduction, participants pay themselves interest at a reasonable rate.

 

8. Retirement plan consolidation is simple and convenient.

It is easier and more convenient for participants to manage their retirement plan nest egg if it is all in the same plan rather than maintaining multiple accounts with previous employers or among multiple plans and IRAs.

 

9.Retirement savings via payroll deductions are convenient and consistent.

The convenience of payroll deductions is very helpful for consistent savings and achieving the benefit of dollar cost averaging.

 

10. For present retirement saving strategies retirement plans can provide greater savings than IRAs.

The law allows you to make a substantially larger contribution to many retirement plans than can be saved with an IRA.

Although personal circumstances may vary, it may be a good idea for participants to roll over their balance in a former employer’s retirement plan into your current plan rather than an IRA. It could be a mutually beneficial decision as your plan’s assets will grow and your employees’ savings potential will not be as limited as with an IRA.

 

About the Author, Michael Viljak

Michael joined RPAG in 2002 and has over 30 years of experience in the retirement plan industry, on both the wholesale and retail levels, focusing on retirement plans ever since their inception in 1981. Michael has an interest in fiduciary-related topics and was part of the team that created RPAG’s proprietary Fiduciary Fitness Program. He also authors many of the firm’s newsletter articles, communication pieces and training modules.

LOSS AVERSION AND FIGHTING FEAR

Loss aversion sounds like a good thing — trying to avoid losing. What could be wrong with that? Unfortunately, if taken too far, it can actually be a threat to retirement plan participants’ long-term financial health. Loss aversion is the tendency to prefer avoiding potential losses over acquiring equal gains. We dislike losing $20 more than we like getting $20. Yet, this common bias can come with a heavy cost.

Excessive risk avoidance can hurt participants when, for example, it keeps their money out of the market and tucked away in low-risk, low-interest savings accounts — where purchasing power can be eroded by inflation over time. Delaying enrollment in an employer-sponsored retirement plan due to fear of market downturns can cripple opportunities for future growth.

Loss aversion can also lead to undue stress and anxiety. Participants stay invested, but worry constantly, which can create health and other problems. Finally, it can result in short-sighted decision making, causing participants to jump ship during volatile and down markets rather than staying in for the long term. All these things can greatly compromise retirement preparedness.

Fortunately, the fact that people are susceptible to loss aversion doesn’t mean they have to succumb to it. It’s especially important not to during periods of high market volatility. Here are five things you can recommend your participants do to fight the fear.

  1. Understand it. Merely knowing about and identifying loss aversion tendencies can give greater insight and conscious control over decision making. Your participants should consider the potential consequences of loss aversion before making important financial decisions.
  1. Take the long view. Maintaining a long-term outlook on markets can be helpful. Let your participants know they should look at historical trends and how investments have performed over extended periods of time. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to get caught up in the latest financial fear mongering on the nightly news.
  1. Don’t obsess. Recommend setting limits on how frequently your participants check the performance of their portfolios and limiting consumption of financial news reporting. If the daily ups and downs of the stock market make their stomachs turn, suggest trying to limit reviews to quarterly performance reports instead.
  1. Get an outsider’s perspective. Your participants should consider speaking with your advisor — someone with more experience and greater objectivity. Participants tend to get very myopic when it comes to their own finances; it can help to seek out the advice of experts when they may be losing perspective.
  1. See the big picture. Take a balanced view of the overall economy, which comprises a lot more than stock market performance. Factors like increased growth, low unemployment and low interest rates are all favorable economic indicators during periods of volatility.

No one likes to lose, that’s for sure. It’s perfectly normal to prefer upswings over downturns, but the lesson is to not let fear take hold when it can compromise financial decision making and hurt long-term best interests.

HEY JOEL!

Welcome to Hey Joel! This forum answers plan sponsor questions from all over the country by our in-house former practicing ERISA attorney.

Hey Joel,

Should we consider life insurance in our retirement plan? – Beefin’ up my plan in Buffalo

Hey Beefin’,

I’m not a fan of having this type of “investment” within a retirement plan.  I often explain my position by asking a client what the purpose of their retirement plan is.  Most will answer that it is a vehicle that helps their participants save towards retirement at or around age 65. When you introduce insurance into the plan, you are increasing your fiduciary liability by offering a product that in most cases becomes an important investment after retirement.  In other words, you’re introducing a product that is designed to assist during the payout period, which could be measured in 10-20 years (or more) beyond when they actually worked for you.  You have to monitor the insurance product, just like a mutual fund.  If it doesn’t perform well, as a fiduciary, you may have to choose an alternative.  In addition the credit worthiness of the insurance provider can come under question, and this can happen many years after introducing the product. This becomes problematic if participants have accrued a benefit in an insurance product that they may lose if a change takes place. If a mutual fund has an issue it is very easy to change.

I do feel there is a place for insurance for many people, but let them do it outside of their retirement plan.  Once that money leaves the plan, it is no longer a concern of fiduciaries.

One of the benefits of having life insurance in the plan is that it provides a “floor” value for a participant’s account that can limit the impact of market downturns. The fees are so high though, that the investments score a watch-list amount. Performance is mediocre at best. Those that offer it often see the exposure it adds to their plan –  sometimes their outside counsel also will have concerns, sometimes the plan sponsor must consider a freeze of this and no longer allow participants to add to the product and sometimes they experience poor service with their recordkeeper, who is also the insurance provider, and this is limiting their ability to find a new recordkeeper.  If the plan sponsor leaves, they may force participants to cash out of this. These companies may use this to lock in a client and it becomes difficult to do anything different.

There are other plan design alternatives you may discuss with your plan advisor to beef up your plan in other ways.

 

Pumpin’ up plan sponsors,

Joel Shapiro

About Joel Shapiro, JD, LLM

As a former practicing ERISA attorney Joel works to ensure that plan sponsors stay fully informed on all legislative and regulatory matters. Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and his Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at the American University.

PARTICIPANT CORNER: TAX SAVERS CREDIT REMINDER

This month’s employee memo reminds participants about the annual tax savers credit. Download the memo from your Fiduciary Briefcase at fiduciarybriefcase.com and distribute to your participants. Please see an excerpt below.

You may be eligible for a valuable incentive, which could reduce your federal income tax liability, for contributing to your company’s 401(k) or 403(b) plan. If you qualify, you may receive a Tax Saver’s Credit of up to $1,000 ($2,000 for married couples filing jointly) if you made eligible contributions to an employer sponsored retirement savings plan. The deduction is claimed in the form of a non-refundable tax credit, ranging from 10% to 50% of your annual contribution.

Remember, when you contribute a portion of each paycheck into the plan on a pre-tax basis, you are reducing the amount of your income subject to federal taxation. And, those assets grow tax-deferred until you receive a distribution. If you qualify for the Tax Saver’s Credit, you may even further reduce your taxes.

Your eligibility depends on your adjusted gross income (AGI), your tax filing status, and your retirement contributions. To qualify for the credit, you must be age 18 or older and cannot be a full-time student or claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

Use this chart to calculate your credit for the tax year 2019. First, determine your AGI – your total income minus all qualified deductions. Then refer to the chart below to see how much you can claim as a tax credit if you qualify.

 

FILING STATUS/ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME FOR 2019

Amount of Credit

Joint

Head of Household

Single/Others

50% of amount deferred $0 to $38,500 $0 to $28,875 $0 to $19,250
20% of amount deferred $38,501 to $41,500 $28,876 to $31,125 $19,251 to $20,750
10% of amount deferred $41,501 to $64,000 $31,126 to $48,000 $20,751 to $32,000

 

For example:

  • A single employee whose AGI is $17,000 defers $2,000 to their retirement plan will qualify for a tax credit equal to 50% of their total contribution. That’s a tax savings of $1,000.
  • A married couple, filing jointly, with a combined AGI of $39,000 each contributes $1,000 to their respective company plans, for a total contribution of $2,000. They will receive a 20% credit reducing their tax bill by $400.

With the Tax Saver’s Credit, you may owe less in federal taxes the next time you file by contributing to your retirement plan today!

DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Lutz Financial (“Lutz”), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Lutz.  To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  Lutz is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  A copy of the Lutz’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please Note: If you are a Lutz client, please remember to contact Lutz, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Lutz shall continue to rely on the accuracy of information that you have provided.

For more important disclosure information, click here.

RECENT LUTZ FINANCIAL POSTS

May Retirement Plan Newsletter

This month’s newsletter contains insights on ways to increase employee retirement contributions, investment options, reasons to roll into your employer’s plan vs. an IRA, and more…

read more

Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

VIEW MODIFIED SUMMER HOURS HERE

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

601 P Street, Suite 103

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

March Retirement Plan Newsletter

March Retirement Plan Newsletter

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

MARCH RETIREMENT PLAN NEWSLETTER

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ISSUES RELIEF GUIDANCE FOR VICTIMS OF CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

Department of Labor Issues Relief Guidance

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued benefit plan guidance and relief for plans and participants affected by the 2018 California Wildfires.  The DOL recognizes that plan sponsors and participants may be affected in their ability to achieve compliance with various regulatory requirements.  The guidance generally applies to all parties involved in employee benefit plans located in areas identified by FEMA as disaster areas, listed here:  www.fema.gov/disasters. 

The guidance provides relief from procedures related to plan loans and loan repayment, distributions, contributions and blackout notices.  In general, the DOL will not take enforcement actions if plans follow the guiding principle to act reasonably, prudently and in the best interests of workers and families who rely on the plans for their economic well-being. 

Specific guidance is offered in certain areas:

  • Loans and Distributions: Plan sponsors must make a good faith effort to follow procedural requirements under the plan, but the DOL will not assist with requirements and if unable, make a reasonable attempt to assemble any missing documentation as soon as practicable.
  • Participant Contributions and Loan Repayments: The DOL recognizes that some employers in these disaster areas may not be able to forward amounts withheld from employee wages within prescribed timeframes.  Employers are required to act reasonably, prudently and in the interest of employees and comply with the regulations as soon as practicable.  The DOL will not take enforcement action if timelines were not met solely due to the 2018 California Wildfires, in the FEMA-identified areas. 
  • Blackout Notices: Generally, 30 days’ advance notice is required when a participant’s rights under a plan will be temporarily suspended, limited or restricted due to a blackout period.  The DOL regulations provide an exception to this requirement when the inability to provide notice within the required timeframe is due to events beyond the plan sponsor’s or fiduciary’s control. 

The full DOL fact sheet can be found here.  Your advisor is available to answer any questions you may have or help you determine practical approaches to meeting fiduciary duties and requirements. 

 

About the Author,Bill Tugaw

Bill specializes in public sector 457(b) deferred compensation, 403(b) and 401(a) defined contribution plan consulting. He is a faculty instructor for the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) on Public Sector 457(b), 401(a) and 403(b) plans.  Bill earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is co-author of two books: Deferred Compensation / Defined Contribution: New Rules / New Game for Public and Private Plans and Defined Contribution Decisions: The Education Challenge.

VISUALIZE RETIREMENT | WHAT ARE YOUR PARTICIPANTS SAVING FOR?

All too often, retirement planning success is measured purely by financial metrics: savings amounts (15 percent per year), income replacement ratios (75 percent of preretirement income), or withdrawal strategies (4 percent per year). And the most critical part of planning for retirement is forgotten: the plan itself.

 

Put another way: how can an employee know how much money they’re going to need in retirement if they don’t know what they’re saving for?

74% of 50-59-year-olds have made a serious effort to plan for financial aspects of retirement.

Only 35% of 50-59-year-olds have made a serious effort to prepare for the emotional aspects of retirement.

Visualize Retirement addresses the one planning need that many pre-retirees don’t even know they have: preparing for the nonfinancial side of retirement.

 Three key areas that studies and actual retiree responses, indicate are key drivers of happiness in retirement are:

1. LIFESTYLE: how participants will spend their time in retirement (family, leisure, travel, work, etc.).

Workers’ Vision for Retirement:

  1. 70% want to travel
  2. 57% want to spend time with family and friends
  3. 50% want to pursue hobbies
  4. 30% say they want to work

 

2. HEALTH CARE: how participants want to give and receive needed care.

Concern About Personal Events:

Concern About Personal Events Chart

 

3. MEANING: how participants will create a sense of purpose fulfilment.

Following almost 1,000 people, a study found that people with “high purpose” were:

  • 4x Less Likely to be afflicted with Alzheimer’s
  • Less Likely to develop mild cognitive impairment
  • Less Likely to develop disabilities or die young

 

 Benefits for Plan Sponsors

Workforce Management Flexibility:

  • Large amounts of time, money and resources go to offer and maintain benefits programs that help prepare employees for the next phase of their lives (retirement plans, company matching money, physical/financial wellness programs, healthy incentive programs).
  • What happens when the employee – due to a lack of emotional and psychological preparedness – doesn’t end up retiring?
  • That backlog can create recruitment and retention issues – as younger talent may seek opportunities elsewhere if A) there is no “foot in the door” position open, or B) they see minimal opportunities to advance internally.

 

Food for thought: Even if widespread workforce management issues are not prevalent, consider the type of employee that may have a difficult time moving on: the “career-minded executive” whose identity is wrapped up in their achievements and stature within the organization.

Long-term Cost Mitigation:

  • As a workforce’s age and tenure increase, so do the costs related to keeping that employee
  • An aging demographic – many of whom may not be emotionally prepared to retire – could impact organizational costs such as increased health care, payroll, or worker’s compensation.

To learn more about the Visualize Retirement program and plan sponsor and participant resources associated with it, please contact your plan advisor. The monthly participant memo companion piece to this newsletter is the Visualize Retirement workbook that helps participants visualize their retirement and define their purpose in retirement.

HEY JOEL!

Welcome to Hey Joel! This forum answers plan sponsor questions from all over the country by our in-house former practicing ERISA attorney.

Hey Joel,

My client wants to conduct an RFP for an ERISA attorney, what are important questions they should include? – Questioning the Expert

Hey Questioning,

While it is a somewhat unusual step to formally RFP for an ERISA counsel search, it can be a good exercise to ensure your client finds the best fit for their organization. Note, ERISA counsel typically does act in a fiduciary capacity in providing legal advice, so selection of ERISA counsel would likely not engender the same fiduciary scope as selection of an advisor, record-keeper or TPA. Fees, if paid out of plan assets, have to be reasonable, but that can be difficult to determine as legal fees can have an incredible variance.

All that said, here are a few excellent questions to assist the client in identifying ERISA counsel who will be a good fit:

  • Do you require a retainer? If so, what is the required amount? Does it need to be replenished on a regular basis, or is it just an initial engagement requirement?
  • What is your hourly fee?
  • Do you provide project-based fees? If so…
    • What falls into the scope of a project?
    • How are scopes determined?
    • How are scopes tracked to ensure the original quote is met?
  • What services do you anticipate will be included on an ongoing basis on an annual basis? What do you project the cost to be?
  • What issues do you commonly see arise with plans of similar size and design that require legal assistance? Please provide an estimate of cost for legal work for each.
  • Who in your firm will provide the work on our engagement? Please list all attorneys, paralegals, and anyone else whose time might be billed to us with their bio and their potential/anticipated role on our engagement.
  • Please provide three referrals for three clients who sponsor plans of a similar size and complexity.

The Expert,

Joel Shapiro

 

About Joel Shapiro, JD, LLM

As a former practicing ERISA attorney Joel works to ensure that plan sponsors stay fully informed on all legislative and regulatory matters. Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and his Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at the American University.

PARTICIPANT CORNER: VISUALIZE RETIREMENT WORKBOOK

Visualize Retirement Image

This month’s employee memo is from our partner, T. Rowe Price, and gives participants a questionnaire so they can determine their priorities for retirement. Download the memo from your Fiduciary Briefcase at fiduciarybriefcase.com and distribute to your participants. Please see an excerpt below.

Retirement planning is both a financial and nonfinancial process. You may have received financial resources from your employer or financial advisor. But putting money aside now for a future date may be more meaningful to you if you have a good idea of what you’re saving for. This workbook is intended to help you visualize your retirement.

Retirees defined a personal retirement vision as follows¹: 50% said, “Working with my spouse/partner to define what we want in retirement”; 46 percent said, “creating a picture of what my retirement lifestyle could be”; 42 percent said, “defining how I would like to receive required health care in retirement”; and 32 percent said, “defining my purpose in retirement.”

 

1. Rank this list in the order of who you spend the most time with today. (1=most)

  •  Family/Household
  • Friends
  • Work/Former Work Colleagues
  • Social Groups (Clubs, Sports, Worship)
  • Neighbors/Community/Volunteerism
  • Other:

2. Now, reorder this list based on who you think you will spend the most time with in retirement.

  • Family/Household
  • Friends
  • Work/Former Work Colleagues
  • Social Groups (Clubs, Sports, Worship)
  • Neighbors/Community/Volunteerism
  • Other:

3. Who will be on your wellness support team in retirement, meaning who will provide you with care if needed?

  • Spouse/Partner
  • Siblings
  • Children
  • Other family members
  • Friends
  • Other:

4. Whose wellness support team do you anticipate being on, meaning, to whom will you provide care if needed?

  • Spouse/Partner
  • Siblings
  • Children
  • Other family members
  • Friends
  • Other:

Next Step: What can you do today to ensure you have the social and support network you will need in retirement?

5. Rank this list in the order of how you spend your time now (1=most)

  • Work
  • Leisure/Fun Activities
  • Physical Activities/ Exercise
  • Kids/Parents/Grandkids
  • Pets
  • Social
  • Learning/Education
  • Religious/Spiritual
  • Travel
  • Other:

6. Now, reorder this list based on how you plan to spend your time in retirement.

  • Work
  • Leisure/Fun Activities
  • Physical Activities/ Exercise
  • Kids/Parents/Grandkids
  • Pets
  • Social
  • Learning/Education
  • Religious/Spiritual
  • Travel
  • Other:

7. What activities will you pursue in order to have a vibrant retirement? (choose all that apply)

  • Exercise Regularly
  • Eat Well
  • Manage Your Weight
  • Be Proactive About Preventative Care With Doctors
  • Adopt a Positive Mindset
  • Learn New Things to Keep Your Mind Sharp
  • Engage With Others Socially
  • Do Mental Exercises
  • Spend Time With Family and Friends
  • Do Nice Things for Yourself (“Pampering”)
  • Other

Next Step: What changes can you make today so that you can spend your time in retirement doing what you want/need to do

8. Rank the following factors in deciding where to live in retirement. (1=most important)

  • Closeness to Family
  • Climate
  • Urban/Suburban/Rural
  • Access to Local Resources (Culture, Education, Recreation, Spiritual)
  • Cost of Living
  • Low Crime
  • Access to Good Health Care
  • Proximity to Work
  • Peaceful/Beautiful Location(s)
  • Access to Public Transportation
  • Social Access
  • Other

9.When you think about your primary home in retirement, what’s most important to you? (choose all that apply)

  • Stay in Your Current Home
  • Downsize
  • Upsize
  • Low Maintenance
  • Low Cost of Living and/or Taxes
  • Nice Climate
  • Live With Family
  • Live in Planned Community
  • Live in Resort Location
  • Live in College Town
  • Other

Next Step: What can you do now to help you prepare for where you want to live in retirement?

10 When would you like to retire, based on your personal definition of retirement?

  • At age:
  • At Asset Level:
  • In Which Timeframe:
    1. 55 (Early)
    2. 65 (Average)
    3. 75 (Late)

11. What is the primary reason for your expected timing?

  • Financial Readiness
  • Satisfaction With My job
  • Reaching My Intended Retirement Age
  • Want to Start a New Chapter/Do Other Things
  • Health-Related Issues (mine or others)
  • Feeling Personally/Emotionally Ready
  • Becoming Eligible for Government Benefits (Social Security, Medicare)
  • Other

Next Step: What can you do now to prepare to retire when you would like to

12. What provides you with the most fulfillment or meaning in your life today? (1=most)

  • Success In My Job
  • Family Time
  • Staying Healthy and Energized
  • Continuous Learning/Education
  • Traveling to New Locations
  • Nonwork-Related Hobbies
  • Religious/Spiritual Activities
  • Neighborhood/Community Involvement
  • Other

13. Now, reorder this list based on how your sense of fulfillment or meaning may change in retirement.

  • Success In My Job
  • Family Time
  • Staying Healthy and Energized
  • Continuous Learning/Education
  • Traveling to New Locations
  • Nonwork-Related Hobbies
  • Religious/Spiritual Activities
  • Neighborhood/Community Involvement
  • Other

Next Step: What can you do now to help you move towards a future retirement that aligns with what’s important to you?

 

You’ve thought about what and who is important to you today, and how that may change after the initial transition to retirement. Now, write your “dust jacket”: the personal profile of your retired life.

Think about your responses for each section in the workbook and how your rankings changed based on priorities and preferences. Incorporate your action items and key components from your vision that will lead to a happy, fulfilling retirement.

DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Lutz Financial (“Lutz”), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Lutz.  To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  Lutz is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  A copy of the Lutz’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please Note: If you are a Lutz client, please remember to contact Lutz, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Lutz shall continue to rely on the accuracy of information that you have provided.

For more important disclosure information, click here.

RECENT LUTZ FINANCIAL POSTS

May Retirement Plan Newsletter

This month’s newsletter contains insights on ways to increase employee retirement contributions, investment options, reasons to roll into your employer’s plan vs. an IRA, and more…

read more

Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

VIEW MODIFIED SUMMER HOURS HERE

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

601 P Street, Suite 103

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

February Retirement Plan Newsletter

February Retirement Plan Newsletter

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

FEBRUARY RETIREMENT PLAN NEWSLETTER

REPAY STUDENT LOANS OR SAVE IN A RETIREMENT PLAN? WHY NOT BOTH?

Repay Student Loans or Save in a Retirement Plan? Why Not Both?

Many employees feel squeezed to both pay off their debt and save for their future. A recent Private Letter Ruling (PLR) opens the door for employers to help them.

The average student graduating in 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt.¹ According to the New York Federal Reserve, more than two million student loan borrowers have student loan debt greater than $100,000, with approximately 415,000 of them carrying student loan debt in excess of $200,000.

What do these numbers mean for you? They mean that debt repayment is typically an employee’s foremost priority. It’s not just the newly minted graduates, either – typically, student loan repayment is stretched over 10 years with close to an 11 percent default rate.

In this climate, don’t be surprised when a desired prospective or current employee inquires how you can help them with their priority – debt reduction. Nor should you be surprised when you find that your debt-burdened employees are not using the savings opportunity of their retirement plan. Many employees feel too squeezed to both pay off their debt and save for their future. Those employees are frustrated not only by their lack of opportunity to save early, as is prudent, but also because they frequently miss out on employer matching contributions in their retirement plans.

Some employers are attempting to solve these issues. On Aug. 17, 2018, the IRS issued PLR 201833012. The PLR addressed an individual plan sponsor’s desire to amend its retirement plan to include a program for employees making student loan repayments. The form of this benefit would be an employer non-elective contribution (a student loan repayment contribution, or “SLR contribution”).

The design of the plan in the PLR would provide matching contributions made available to participants equal to 5 percent of compensation for 2 percent of compensation deferred, it includes a true-up. Alternatively, employees could receive up to 5 percent of compensation in an SLR contribution in the retirement plan for every 2 percent of student loan repayments they made during the year. The SLR contribution would be calculated at year-end. The PLR states that the program would allow a participant to both defer into the retirement plan and make a student loan repayment at the same time, but they would only receive either the match or the SLR contribution and not both for the same pay period. Employees who enroll in the student loan repayment program and later opt out without hitting the 2 percent threshold necessary for an SLR contribution would be eligible for matching contributions for the period in which they opted out and made deferrals into the plan.

The PLR asked the IRS to rule that such design would not violate the “contingent benefit” prohibition under the Tax Code. The Code and regulations essentially state that a cash or deferred arrangement does not violate the contingent benefit prohibition if no other benefit is conditioned upon the employee’s election to make elective contributions under the arrangement. The IRS ruled that the proposed design does not violate the contingent benefit prohibition.

All that said, it is important to note that a PLR is directed to a specific taxpayer requesting the ruling, and is applicable only to the specific taxpayer requesting the ruling, and only to the specific set of facts and circumstances included in the request. That means others cannot rely on the PLR as precedent. It is neither a regulation nor even formal guidance. However, it does provide insight into how the IRS views certain arrangements. Thus, other plan sponsors that wish to replicate the design of the facts and circumstances contained in the PLR can do so with some confidence that they will not run afoul of the contingent benefit prohibition.

Companies are increasingly aware of the heavy student debt carried by their employees, and are exploring a myriad of programs they can offer to alleviate this burden. This particular design is meant to allow employees who cannot afford to both repay their student loans and defer into the retirement plan at the same time the ability to avoid missing out on the “free money” being offered by their employer in the retirement plan (by essentially replacing the match they miss by not deferring with the SLR contribution they receive for participating in the student loan repayment program). This design is not meant to help employees accelerate their debt payoff. If that’s your goal, you would have to do so directly into the student loan repayment program – there is no conduit to do so through the retirement plan.

While the IRS ruled in regard to the contingent benefit prohibition, the PLR states definitively that all other qualification rules (testing, coverage, etc.) would remain operative. Thus, if you wish to pursue adding such provisions to your retirement plan, you must take care as you undertake the design.

The facts provided in the PLR were very basic, and the plan design is very basic in that it requires deferral/student loan repayment equal to 2 percent for a 5 percent employer contribution (either match or SLR contribution) with no gradations. This is important because gradations could create separate testing populations for each increment of the SLR contribution plan, since it is a non-elective contribution, not a matching contribution. This could become a nightmare scenario for non-discrimination testing and administration.

Alternatively, to avoid the potential nondiscrimination testing issues, the benefit could be designed to exclude highly compensated employees. However, that still doesn’t alleviate the potential administrative burden placed on your payroll and human resources teams. Most of the debt repayment programs are not yet integrated with retirement plan recordkeepers. That means that administering some of the interrelated elements of the two plans would have to be undertaken in-house.

There are more than a few consequential elements that you should be wary of while exploring opportunities to assist your employees and employment targets. In all cases it is recommended that you involve your retirement plan’s recordkeeper, advisor and even – in some sophisticated design scenarios – outside counsel to make certain they: (1) don’t inadvertently create qualification issues, (2) understand the potential for additional testing and perhaps additional financial considerations of the design; and (3) are prepared for any additional administration the program may require.

This month’s employee memo gives ideas for eliminating student loan debt. Even if you are not yet offering this benefit, the memo offers other practical ideas to assist your employee population with student loan debt.

 

About the Author, Joel Shaprio, JD, LLM

As a former practicing ERISA attorney Joel works to ensure that plan sponsors stay fully informed on all legislative and regulatory matters. Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and his Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at the American University.

EFFECTIVE EMPLOYEE EDUCATION

Fiduciary duty requires you to provide your employees and participants with educational opportunities so they can make informed investment decisions.  It’s not always easy to know what your participants need, want or will take advantage of.  Using a simple framework for your educational program may increase the effectiveness of your program.

 

  1. Provide a consistent, ongoing program using a variety of communication mediums. This can include group meetings, podcasts, online tools, one-on-one meetings or other mediums attractive to your participants. 
  2. Vary the content of your program to provide broad education. Content should include plan basics, such as Basic Investing/Getting Started, but may also include topics related to a participant’s entire financial picture – e.g., Saving for College, Estimating Retirement Income Sources and Needs, Health Care Options – and other topics of consideration to a retiree’s financial well-being.  
  3. Offer online and professional advice tools to help retirees determine how much they need to save and how they will invest their contributions.
  4. Fully disclose to participants, in easily understandable terms, information about the fees associated with their different investment options.
  5. Offer participants opportunities to discuss their risk tolerance level, and help them understand how much risk they are willing to take when investing for their retirement.
  6. Consider allowing employees to take advantage of educational opportunities and/or one-on-one meetings during working hours. This helps send a message to employees that their employer values this important benefit and is interested in helping employees prepare for their future.
  7. Survey employees to determine if they find the educational program valuable, are taking advantage of it, what would make it more attractive and other feedback they may have to help continuously improve the program.

 

Every plan and its participant base is different, and there is no one right structure for an educational program. By starting with the above and being willing to modify your program’s offerings according to participant feedback, your educational program will get stronger, you will meet this responsibility and you may even see employee engagement increase!

 

HEY JOEL!

Welcome to Hey Joel! This forum answers plan sponsor questions from all over the country by our in-house former practicing ERISA attorney.

Hey Joel,

What are the risks for late 5500 filings? – Tardy in Tallahassee

 

Dear Tardy,

The main risk is the daily penalties that accrue from the IRS and DOL for each day the filing is not submitted past the deadline. There is a process you can go through that reduces the amount of daily penalties, but there is a filing charge associated with this process as well.

The DOL has a good Q&A document about the program for correcting a late filing: https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/faqs/dfvcp.pdf. Some of the penalty dollar amounts may have changed since this was published as they are adjusted on occasion.

 

Punctual and proud,

Joel Shapiro

 

About Joel Shapiro, JD, LLM

As a former practicing ERISA attorney Joel works to ensure that plan sponsors stay fully informed on all legislative and regulatory matters. Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and his Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at the American University.

PARTICIPANT CORNER: DON'T LET STUDENT LOAN DEBT GET IN YOUR WAY OF FINANCIAL SUCCESS

This month’s employee flyer gives participants ideas to assist in eliminating student loan debt. Download the flyer from your Fiduciary Briefcase at fiduciarybriefcase.com and distribute to your participants. Please see an excerpt on the next page.

If you find yourself in a position of not being able to pay off your student loan debt and save for your future, you’re not alone. According to the New York Federal Reserve, more than two million student loan borrowers have student loan debt greater than $100,000, with approximately 415,000 of them carrying student loan debt in excess of $200,000. Here are some steps you can take to help eliminate your student loan debt:

 

  1. Make a Budget

Do you have a budget that you’re following each month? If not, create one today! With a monthly budget you can track where you are spending your money and where you can cut back. Then take your savings and put it towards your student loans!

 

  1. Pay More Than the Minimum 

It’s no secret that paying the minimum each month will not

get you far. By paying more than the minimum you can attack the principal at a quicker rate. Then your loans will be paid off faster.

 

  1. Apply Raises and Tax Refunds to Your Student Loans

When you get some extra dough from a raise or tax refund it may be tempting to run out and spend it. Wouldn’t it be so much more beneficial to put any extra money you receive towards your debt? Doing this will get you to your goal of being debt-free much quicker.

 

  1. Find Out if Your Employer Offers a Student Loan Repayment Program

Last year the IRS issued a Private Letter Ruling stating that companies offering a retirement plan can amend their plan to include a program for employees making student loan repayments. Under this program, employers make retirement plan contributions into the accounts of employees who are making student loan repayments.

 

DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Lutz Financial (“Lutz”), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Lutz.  To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  Lutz is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  A copy of the Lutz’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please Note: If you are a Lutz client, please remember to contact Lutz, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Lutz shall continue to rely on the accuracy of information that you have provided.

For more important disclosure information, click here.

Q1 FIDUCIARY HOT TOPICS

HARDSHIP WITHDRAWALS - THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE ISSUES PROPOSED REGULATION REFLECTING STATUTORY CHANGES

This past November, the IRS issued proposed regulations to effectuate changes made for hardship withdrawals in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. Comments were due by Jan. 14, 2019. Although the statutory changes are effective beginning in 2019, the proposed regulations do not require any changes in how hardships are administered until 2020.

Plan documents must be amended to reflect changes to the safe harbor rules. Most recordkeepers updated their systems so participants are no longer suspended from making contributions following a hardship distribution, but they have not set a time frame for when plan sponsors can expect to receive the necessary amendments. The deadline for amendments will be the end of the second calendar year beginning after the hardship changes appear on the IRS’ Required Amendments List. The proposed regulations include some changes that go beyond what is required to conform to the statutory changes. While the changes generally make hardship distributions more accessible, the IRS makes it clear that plan sponsors are free to add their own restrictions, such as limiting the sources eligible for hardship distributions.

Current Law

Prior to age 59½, in-service distribution of elective deferrals is limited to certain events including hardship. A distribution qualifies as a hardship only if made on account of an “immediate and heavy financial need.” The amount distributed cannot exceed the amount necessary to satisfy this need. The determination of whether the participant has “an immediate and heavy financial need” must be based on “all relevant facts and circumstances.” A distribution is considered necessary to meet “an immediate and heavy financial need” only if other resources are not available to the participant. Plan sponsors may accept a participant’s representation that he/she has no alternative resources, unless the sponsor has actual knowledge to the contrary. Certain sources are not eligible for hardship distributions – post 1988 earnings, safe harbor contributions, QNECs and QMACs.

Existing Safe Harbor Rules

Although not a legal requirement, the majority of plan sponsors follow the safe harbors. If a plan sponsor follows the safe harbor rules, the IRS will not challenge hardships on audit. These rules are included in virtually all prototype and volume submitter documents. There are two aspects to the safe harbor rules:

  • First, six events are deemed to qualify as “an immediate and heavy financial need:” (1) deductible medical expenses; (2) costs associated with purchase of a principal residence: (3) tuition and other expenses associated with post-secondary education; (4) payments to prevent eviction; (5) funeral expenses and (6) deductible expenses associated with repairing damage to a participant’s principal residence if deductible as a casualty loss.
  • Second, a distribution is deemed necessary to satisfy the immediate and heavy financial need if the participant has taken all other available plan distributions, including loans, and the participant is suspended from contributing for six months.

What Has Changed

  • The six-month suspension of contributions is eliminated (optional for 2019).
  • The requirement to take a loan first is now optional.
  • Except for 403(b) plans, all account sources are now eligible for hardships, but sponsors may elect to limit the sources eligible.
  • Earnings remain ineligible for all 403(b) plans, along with QNECs and QMACs in custodial accounts.
  • Casualty losses related to home repairs are now deductible only if the taxpayer resides in an area declared to be a federal disaster. The proposed regulation clarifies that a participant is eligible for a hardship distribution for such losses whether or not a federal disaster is declared.
  • All expenses related to an event declared by FEMA to be a federal disaster qualify for hardship if the participant resides in or works in the disaster area.
  • Expenses incurred by the primary beneficiary that are qualifying medical, education or funeral expenses are eligible for a hardship distribution. Under prior law, this was limited to the participant, spouses and dependents.

The “all relevant facts and circumstances” evidentiary standard no longer applies. The participant must first take any available distributions under all plans of the sponsor. This includes non-qualified plans. And, beginning in 2020, the participant must represent in writing (or by electronic medium) that he/she has no other available resources to satisfy the need. The sponsor may accept this representation unless it has actual knowledge to the contrary

AS THEY ALWAYS SAY, THINGS NEVER MATTER UNTIL THEY MATTER

Municipal bond holders may not appreciate the risks they are undertaking. Municipal bonds have always been viewed as an ultra-safe investment. However, in recent years a number of pundits have predicted widespread defaults on these bonds precipitated by growing unfunded state and local pension liabilities. With some exceptions (Detroit, Puerto Rice and Stockton, CA), these predictions have not come to pass. Investors have given little heed to these warnings.  Ratings agencies and fund managers in this sleepy sector continue to operate on the assumption that things will somehow work out.  The liabilities of state and local governments are now estimated at about $8 billion – half owed to bond holders and half to pensioners. Rising stock markets and low interest rates in recent years would seem to have been the perfect environment for state and local governments to improve the pension funding. However, things have continued to deteriorate making it more likely that predictions of widespread defaults may pan out. At the beginning of the financial crisis, according to the Pew Charitable Trust, state and city pension plans were on average 86 percent funded.  Unfunded liabilities have now grown to $1.4 trillion and just 66 percent are funded. This is based on states’ and cities’ own rosy assumptions that future returns on pension assets will on average equal 7.5 percent.  Decreasing this assumption by only one percent increases pension liabilities by about $400 billion. Using more realistic assumptions, the American Legislative Exchange Council estimated that the funding of Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey, the three states with the biggest challenges, is only 19.7 percent, 23.3 percent and 25.7 percent respectively. Cities can cut back on services and take on more debt without bouncing checks to pensioners or bondholders. But rising interest rates, declining stock markets and/or a recession may be the tipping point. In the last recession, state revenues across the country declined on average by 8 percent. When crunch time comes, municipal bonders may be in for a shock. In those bankruptcies to date, pensioners have fared far better than bond holders. When the municipal bond market start to reflect the real risks, bond holders will be asking why no one saw this coming.

THE PBGC ASSUMES RESPONSIBILITY FOR SEARS PENSION PLANS

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the PBGC) is a government insurance program that guarantees all private defined benefit pensions. There is no comparable insurance for defined contribution plans. The PBGC pays benefits to almost a million participants covered by 4,800 failed pension plans and is responsible for future payments to another half a million individuals. The PBGC faces an uncertain financial future and its challenges continue to grow due in large part due to the long-term decline in defined benefit pension plans. Its liabilities now exceed assets by almost $80 billion. With Sears in bankruptcy the PBGC has no choice but to assume responsibility for its two pension plans covering about 90,000 participants. The PBGC has been working with Sears for several years to improve the funding of its plans. The proceeds from the sale of its Craftsmen brand and certain real estate properties were contributed to the plans. These measures notwithstanding, the unfunded liabilities for these plans are about $1.4 billion. Assuming responsibility for these two plans is the biggest hit the PBGC has taken since the United Airlines bankruptcy in 2002.

LITIGATION UPDATE: ONGOING LITIGATION AGAINST COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES - DUKE SETTLES BUT IT'S HARDLY A WINDFALL FOR PARTICIPANTS

Since 2016, more than 20 lawsuits have been filed against fiduciaries of university retirement plans. The defendants are among the largest and most prestigious schools in the country, as they present very visible targets. Many of these suits were filed by the same law firm, Schlichter, Bogard & Denton of St. Louis, one of the leading plaintiffs’ firms in ERISA litigation. Plaintiffs have not fared all that well. Although the University of Chicago settled in May of last year for $6.5 million, four schools have successfully made their case in court – Washington University in St. Louis, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University. Also, plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew a suit brought against the University of Rochester. The first of these suits was filed against Duke – Clark versus Duke University. The plaintiffs alleged a series of fiduciary breaches including a dizzying array of investment choices; using four different recordkeepers; not offering index funds; paying excessive asset-based recordkeeping fees because the fiduciaries failed to leverage their large size in fee negotiations. While some of these practices are questionable, overall Duke’s approach has been typical of how large university retirement plans are administered. A settlement was announced only two weeks after Duke filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case. The trial had been set to begin in July. The settlement requires Duke to take the following steps:

  •  In the first and second years of the settlement period, provide plaintiffs’ counsel a list of the investment options, the fees and the IPS;
  • No later than Jan. 1, 2020, communicate in writing to plan participants the new investment lineup and provide a link to a web page showing performance and fees;
  • During the third year of the settlement, retain a consultant to advise it on RFPs for recordkeeping and administrative services; and
  • Plan assets may no longer be used to pay salaries and fringe benefits of employees performing services for the plan.

The settlement is hardly a windfall for the approximately 40,000 participants.

  • Named plaintiffs are seeking $25,000 each.
  • Legal counsel is requesting $3.5 million in fees and $825,000 in expenses.
  • Newport Trust Company is acting as an independent fiduciary at a cost of $30,000.
  • Analytics, LLC is serving as settlement administrator at a cost of $146,000.
  • This leaves a paltry $150 each for participants.

RECENT LUTZ FINANCIAL POSTS

May Retirement Plan Newsletter

This month’s newsletter contains insights on ways to increase employee retirement contributions, investment options, reasons to roll into your employer’s plan vs. an IRA, and more…

read more

Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

VIEW MODIFIED SUMMER HOURS HERE

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

601 P Street, Suite 103

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

January Retirement Plan Newsletter

January Retirement Plan Newsletter

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

JANUARY RETIREMENT PLAN NEWSLETTER

SIX EASY STEPS TO KEEP YOUR PLAN ASSETS SAFE

Six Easy Steps to Keep Your Plan Assets Safe

Cyber fraud is a growing concern globally. Individuals are typically very careful to keep their bank account and email authentication information safe, but they aren’t always smart with the rest of their personal information.

Participants need to be vigilant with their retirement savings accounts as well. In the past year we’ve seen a slew of cases of attempted fraud – some successful – against retirement savings plan participants across a multitude of recordkeepers.

The good news is that virtually all recordkeepers view security as a prominent priority and diligently update their technology. However, their security can only go so far if the participant isn’t being equally vigilant. Educate your plan participants on the following tips to ensure the security of their retirement savings accounts.

 

  1. Use all available levels of authentication. If your plan’s recordkeeper comes out with a new type of authentication, your participants should implement it immediately.
  2. If participants frequent a website or have an account with a company whose website and information has been compromised, they should change all their passwords for all online accounts.
  3. Remind participants to use strong passwords. Utilize letters, capitalization, numbers and symbols. Don’t use recognizable words. Don’t use the same password for multiple purposes. Have the password be at least 14 characters in length. Consider changing passwords frequently. Using a password manager can make this task less unwieldly.
  4. Don’t send authentication information to any third parties, and remind participants to limit authentication access to use on sites which are navigated to independently – not through a link or other prompt.
  5. Check your participants’ accounts frequently and address any irregularities, and remind participants to keep an eye out, too.
  6. Ask participants to immediately contact you if they receive any “updates” that look suspicious so you can notify your recordkeeper.

 

Keep your participants in the know. We recommend sending them the participant memo that is included with this newsletter on the importance of remaining vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity – it’s one of the most important investments your participants can make.

For more information on keeping your plan assets safe from cyberattack, please contact your plan advisor.

 

About the Author, Joel Shapiro

Joel ShapiroAs a former practicing ERISA attorney Joel works to ensure that plan sponsors stay fully informed on all legislative and regulatory matters. Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and his Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at the American University.

RECORDS AND THEIR EXPIRATION DATES

“What records should I keep? How long should I keep them? How should I organize my files?”

Advisors have been asked these questions time and time again by plan sponsors looking for a general guideline for record expiration dates.

Record retention doesn’t need to be a mystery, and the filing system doesn’t need to become a tomb. For audits, remember the following requirements.

 

chart 1

 

As for organizing your fiduciary file, we suggest a format that includes the following sections:

chart 2

 

If a participant or DOL agent requested plan information, could you find it quickly? The key is twofold: keep the things you need and store them so you can find them easily.  Of course, these are only general guidelines. For questions about your specific case, contact your plan advisor to discuss best practices for keeping records.

 

About the Author, Joel Shapiro

Joel ShapiroAs a former practicing ERISA attorney Joel works to ensure that plan sponsors stay fully informed on all legislative and regulatory matters. Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and his Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at the American University.

HEY JOEL!

Welcome to Hey Joel! This forum answers plan sponsor questions from all over the country by our in-house former practicing ERISA attorney.

Hey Joel,

Will hardship suspensions go away in January 2019? If someone takes a hardship today, do we stop the suspension on Jan. 1 2019? – Anxious in Alabama

 

Dear Anxious,

First, understand that we are all still awaiting further guidance from the IRS/Treasury on the new hardship safe harbor rules. The suspensions don’t so much as “go away” as much as the necessity to suspend deferrals potentially becomes optional. That said, if a plan wants to keep the suspension, I believe they may do so.
The only question would be whether or not the safe harbor remains intact for the plan sponsor. As originally stated, we are still waiting on additional guidance from the IRS/Treasury on whether or not all the new rules would be required, or are just optional, for the safe harbor protection.

 

Also Anxious,

Joel Shapiro

 

About Joel Shapiro, JD, LLM

As a former practicing ERISA attorney Joel works to ensure that plan sponsors stay fully informed on all legislative and regulatory matters. Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and his Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at the American University.

PARTICIPANT CORNER: KEEP YOUR PLAN ASSETS SAFE

This month’s employee memo reminds participants to remain vigilant when it comes to the cybersecurity of their retirement plans. Download the memo from your Fiduciary Briefcase at fiduciarybriefcase.com and distribute to your participants. Please see an excerpt below.

You work hard for your money. You wisely choose to defer a portion of your salary for your interests in your retirement years. The plan is designed to help you grow your savings to an appropriate amount of money to support you once you reach your retirement years.

But as you are aware, the plan is only as effective as you make it. If you defer too little or make unwise investment decisions there is a chance that you will not reach your goals. Similarly, if you drain your plan balance over the years, you understand you will find a shortfall in retirement. What many participants do not think about is being responsible for the security of their savings as well.

Cyber fraud has been a growing concern globally for years. Individuals are typically very careful to keep their security measures (passwords, authentication codes, etc.) private with regards to their banking and electronic mail accounts. However, in the past few years, there have been breaches of major companies containing personal information of individuals. And unfortunately, much of the personal information has become accessible by bad actors on the dark web.

Participants need to be vigilant with their retirement savings accounts as well. In the past 12 months, there have been a slew of cases of attempted fraud, some successful, enacted on retirement savings plan participants. And these attempts have occurred across a multitude of recordkeepers. The good news is that virtually all recordkeepers have security as a prominent priority and spend. They are constantly updating their security technology and protocols. But their security can only go so far if the participant is not being equally vigilant.

 

The following are a few prudent tips for participants in ensuring the security of their retirement savings accounts:

  • Use multiple levels of security and authentication – if your plan’s recordkeeper comes out with a new level/type of authentication, engage it immediately.
  • If you frequent a website or have an account with a company, whose website and information has been compromised, change all your passwords. For example, Yahoo recently had a large breach – a breach containing passwords – if you ever had a Yahoo account you should change your password.
  • Make sure your password is strong – utilize letters, capitalization, numbers, and symbols. Don’t use recognizable words. Don’t use the same password for multiple purposes. Have the password be at least 14 characters in length. Consider changing your password on a frequent basis.
  • Never send your authentication to anyone requesting it. It should be limited to use on sites on which you navigated to independently of any outside request.
  • Check your account on a semi-regular basis for any irregularities.
  • Immediately contact your plan administrator and/or the recordkeeper if you receive any update that sparks your concern – do not wait, the money could leave the U.S. quickly.

 

As your employer, we are always looking out for your wellbeing. We trust that the plan is in good hands with our recordkeeper. We have reviewed their cyber security protocols and technology. But we felt a need to provide a gentle reminder that your involvement is crucial in maintaining the security of your account too.

We want your savings experience to be as simple and easy as possible. We want you to someday enjoy your retirement years.

DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Lutz Financial (“Lutz”), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Lutz.  To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  Lutz is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  A copy of the Lutz’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please Note: If you are a Lutz client, please remember to contact Lutz, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Lutz shall continue to rely on the accuracy of information that you have provided.

For more important disclosure information, click here.

RECENT LUTZ FINANCIAL POSTS

May Retirement Plan Newsletter

This month’s newsletter contains insights on ways to increase employee retirement contributions, investment options, reasons to roll into your employer’s plan vs. an IRA, and more…

read more

Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

VIEW MODIFIED SUMMER HOURS HERE

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

601 P Street, Suite 103

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850