Ray Harmon

Ray Harmon

Ray Harmon

By Ray Harmon, John Iekel7/27/2017 • 0 Comments

Nevada’s new law that imposes a fiduciary duty on broker-dealers, sales representatives and investment advisers is now in effect; it also authorizes rules on fiduciary duty. READ MORE

By Ray Harmon, John Iekel3/19/2015 • 0 Comments

Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White confirmed March 17 that the commission will “implement a uniform fiduciary duty for broker-dealers and investment advisors where the standard is to act in the best interest of the investor.”
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John Iekel

John Iekel

John Iekel

By John Iekel12/6/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS on Dec. 5 issued Notice 2017-72, which contains the 2017 remedial amendment list for individually designed qualified retirement plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel12/5/2017 • 0 Comments

IRAs play an increasingly large and important role in bolstering retirement readiness, says a recent analysis — and rollovers are a critical part of that vitality. READ MORE

By John Iekel12/1/2017 • 0 Comments

Ritual marks the onset of a new year — but it’s not just about revelry and pageantry. It’s also about making sure plan-related duties that are on a calendar-year timeline are fulfilled in time. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/30/2017 • 0 Comments

A recent blog entry reminds that there are fiduciary considerations associated with offering actively managed accounts in a DC plan. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/30/2017 • 0 Comments

A stolen identity, a few clicks, and there it is — a handsome retirement plan balance, ripe for the picking. A recent blog entry,and the IRS, offer some ideas on how to protect retirement plans from identity theft. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/29/2017 • 0 Comments

PBGC Director Thomas Reeder at a Nov. 29 hearing of the House Education and Commerce Committee’s Subcommitee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions discussed the status of the Multiemployer Pension Program. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/28/2017 • 0 Comments

There is “work to do in the retirement areas,” House Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said on Nov. 28. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/27/2017 • 0 Comments

The safety net the PBGC provides through its pension plan insurance programs covered more plans and participants in federal fiscal year (FY) 2017, the agency reports. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/27/2017 • 0 Comments

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced legislation that would create a Pension Rehabilitation Trust Fund and a Pension Rehabilitation Administration. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/27/2017 • 0 Comments

Conventional wisdom is that leaving employment and drawing from retirement savings could be a recipe to eventual and inevitable penury. But a recent study begs to differ. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/27/2017 • 0 Comments

Required minimum distributions may be among a plan's innocuous responsibilities, but a recent blog entry cautions that one fails to keep them in mind at one’s peril. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/22/2017 • 0 Comments

A recent blog entry discusses the beneficiary options under the RMD regulations that were issued on April 17, 2002, and the importance of the distinctions. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/20/2017 • 0 Comments

First, do no harm. A term commonly applied to the practice of medicine, but a recent blog post by Christopher Carosa applies it to fiduciary practices. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/20/2017 • 0 Comments

The retirement industry is rife with words and terms whose meaning is expanding or shifting, including terms related to DB plans, at least according to Willis Towers Watson. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/16/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS has updated its Listing of Required Modifications (LRM) and Information Package for defined contribution plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/14/2017 • 0 Comments

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) plans to introduce a bill intended to protect pension benefits for retirees in multiemployer DB plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/14/2017 • 0 Comments

Retirement benefits are on the agenda in the IRS’ recently released 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/13/2017 • 0 Comments

A recent blog entry discusses what it can mean for an erstwhile employer when a former employee fails to roll their funds out of the plan into one offered by their new employer or into an IRA. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/13/2017 • 0 Comments

Pension risk transfer is firmly entrenched, and for a variety of reasons. Some recent analyses offer their perspectives on the practice. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/10/2017 • 0 Comments

The belle of the retirement plan participation ball is auto enrollment. And a potent tool it is. But a recent article suggests it may not only be an elixir — it also may cause a delayed hangover. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/3/2017 • 0 Comments

Making one’s voice heard with legislators is more than a fine American tradition — it’s a powerful way to have a real impact. And for more than 15 years, members of ASPPA have been doing just that. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/3/2017 • 0 Comments

The universe of ways retirement plan participants can obtain information keeps expanding. But multiplicity of format does not necessarily translate to better-informed participants, points out a recent blog entry. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/1/2017 • 0 Comments

The technological revolution that has ushered in today’s electronic age is a thing of wonder. But it has also opened the door to theft and abuse of money and information, including from retirement accounts. A recent article discusses what can be done to address the threat. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/1/2017 • 0 Comments

The Oregon Retirement Savings Board has issued a reminder regarding the next registration deadline for OregonSaves and a report on some of the results of the program so far. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/1/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS has expanded the relief it is providing to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the California wildfires. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/30/2017 • 0 Comments

The California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Investment Board has issued a request for proposal for investment consulting services. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/30/2017 • 0 Comments

IRS Employee Plans examiners have been told to not challenge a qualified plan for failing to satisfy RMD standards under certain circumstances. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/30/2017 • 0 Comments

“All politics is local,” it has been said, and that principle holds for ERISA enforcement, too — at least according to an expert panel at the recent ASPPA Annual conference held in National Harbor, MD. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/27/2017 • 0 Comments

A recent blog entry points out that 401(k) loans may seem innocuous since a participant is taking money from his or her own account and repaying it to themselves, but they still entail risks and costs.
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By John Iekel10/27/2017 • 0 Comments

The DOL means business regarding retirement plans’ compliance with applicable law and regulation, cautioned expert presenters at an Oct. 25 session of the ASPPA Annual Conference. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/24/2017 • 0 Comments

That’s a bit of wisdom more apropos for retirement plan professionals than they might have imagined even two months ago. Sudden events and rapid-fire regulatory guidance and adjustments have made recent months a challenge indeed, noted an expert panel at an Oct. 23 session at the 2017 ASPPA Annual Conference. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/24/2017 • 0 Comments

While 401(k)s are ubiquitous in the for-profit sector, 403(b)s and 457 plans rule the roost among non-profits. At an Oct. 24 session of the ASPPA Annual Conference, PenServ Plan Services, Inc. President Susan Diehl provided a glimpse into the world of 403(b)s. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/23/2017 • 0 Comments

“If you choose not to have a written document, you have voluntarily chosen to increase your risk.” Ilene Ferenczy, Managing Partner of the Ferenczy Benefits Law Center, at an Oct. 23 session of the ASPPA Annual Conference at National Harbor, MD, discussed the importance of service agreements and the protection they offer. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/23/2017 • 0 Comments

Tax reform, that is, and its potential to vex the retirement community and those it serves. With those words, American Retirement Association CEO and ASPPA Executive Director Brian Graff reminded attendees at ASPPA's 2017 Annual Conference at National Harbor, MD, that the matter is pressing. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/20/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS on Oct. 19 announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2018. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/18/2017 • 0 Comments

The PBGC announced on Oct. 16 that it is launching a new pilot program that will offer mediation in certain Termination Liability Collection and Early Warning Program cases. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/17/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS and the PBGC are providing relief from certain deadlines and requirements relevant to retirement plans for certain victims of the wildfires in California. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/13/2017 • 0 Comments

There have to be changes in the law, and “it needs to be done quickly,” argued former North Dakota Senator and Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Kent Conrad at an Oct. 11 Bipartisan Policy Center event. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/13/2017 • 0 Comments

A recent paper discusses what happens when each party in a married couple claims Social Security benefits at a different age. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/11/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS on Oct. 10 announced that it has issued two revenue procedures (Rev. Procs.) that update earlier revenue procedures that concern funding methods for pension plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/6/2017 • 0 Comments

A recent analysis goes a step beyond simple measurements and data and examines trends concerning pension plan underfunding. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/6/2017 • 0 Comments

When it comes to communicating with participants, meeting the letter of the rules and fulfilling the spirit behind them are not always the same thing. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/6/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) Office has issued its fiscal year 2018 work plan, which includes actions that will affect plan applications as well as steps to ensure and improve compliance. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/5/2017 • 0 Comments

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton reiterated on Oct. 4 in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee that he is “focused on the standards of conduct” for investment professionals. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/4/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS announced on Oct. 3 in Notice 2017-60 that it has updated the static mortality tables for defined benefit plans for 2018. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/2/2017 • 0 Comments

The Oregon Treasury has provided a report on the status of OregonSaves as it approaches full implementation; it now covers more than 2,000 employees. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/28/2017 • 0 Comments

Warnings about the need to save more for retirement are ubiquitous; a suggestion that challenges this premise will raise more than a few eyebrows. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/28/2017 • 0 Comments

Forgetting to repay a loan will garner one a quick reminder. But a recent Tax Court ruling suggests that it may be wise to verify that the payment really was made. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/26/2017 • 0 Comments

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton told the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs he hopes the SEC can “properly tailor” an approach that will best address issues related to the DOL fiduciary rule. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/21/2017 • 0 Comments

A proposal to allow some retirees to receive lump sum Social Security payments would result in higher costs for Old Age, Survivor and Disability Insurance (OASDI) in the short term, but a small net reduction in OASDI costs in the longer term, says Social Security Chief Actuary Stephen Goss. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/21/2017 • 0 Comments

A sharper focus on how fiduciary duties are discharged and a heightened awareness of how one is performing such functions will not go away anytime soon; a recent paper discusses fiduciary risk and management. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/18/2017 • 0 Comments

The PBGC has issued guidance that provides an alternative method for determining whether an active participant reduction due to attrition must be reported to it. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/15/2017 • 0 Comments

Running the plan and investing in a way mindful of environmental, social and governance concerns is a practice some plans follow, but a recent commentary questions whether that inhibits fulfilling fiduciary responsibility. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/14/2017 • 0 Comments

The PBGC says in Disaster Relief Announcement 17-11 that in response to Hurricane Irma it is waiving certain penalties and extending certain deadlines in qualifying parts of Florida. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/13/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS, Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) have announced fresh relief for victims of Hurricane Irma — as well as those of still very recent Hurricane Harvey. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/8/2017 • 0 Comments

Analyses often warn that efforts to save for retirement are insufficient, but panelists at a recent discussion suggest that the prospects for many retirees are really quite good. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/7/2017 • 0 Comments

Plans, employers, service providers and administrators can act to protect plans and those they serve from the effects of hurricanes and natural disasters; the IRS and the DOL provide tips. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/6/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS has announced that it is extending the temporary nondiscrimination relief for closed defined benefit plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/31/2017 • 0 Comments

The Oregon Treasury has unveiled a proposal to modify the Oregon State Retirement Program. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/30/2017 • 0 Comments

Less than 24 hours after the American Retirement Association requested it, the IRS has granted relief to taxpayers affected by Hurricane Harvey. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/28/2017 • 0 Comments

There’s more to RMDs than simply making payments; a recent white paper reminds that the responsibility of making them includes being on time. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/25/2017 • 0 Comments

It's wise to pay close attention to defined contribution plan fees, argues a series of blog entries. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/16/2017 • 0 Comments

Recent studies discuss use of pension risk transfers to relieve the pressures associated with offering DB plans and highlight group annuities as a safety valve. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/11/2017 • 0 Comments

A recent blog entry argues that employers and plan administrators can face complex situations concerning distributions. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/10/2017 • 0 Comments

The notion that people need to save more for retirement is not new. Recent research suggests that in sentiment many employers agree, but may not put that in practice as fully as they could. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/4/2017 • 0 Comments

In new projections, the PBGC says the deficit of its single-employer program likely will end soon; however, the results for the multiemployer program are likely to be different. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/28/2017 • 0 Comments

The Treasury Department on July 28 announced that it will begin winding down the myRA program. READ MORE

By Ray Harmon, John Iekel7/27/2017 • 0 Comments

Nevada’s new law that imposes a fiduciary duty on broker-dealers, sales representatives and investment advisers is now in effect; it also authorizes rules on fiduciary duty. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/26/2017 • 0 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is inviting comment on what regulatory — and deregulatory — actions it should take. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/24/2017 • 0 Comments

The Washington State Department of Commerce is updating the rules for the state’s Small Business Retirement Marketplace. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/24/2017 • 0 Comments

The American Retirement Association on July 17 sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) expressing its strong support for tax incentives to encourage retirement savings. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/21/2017 • 0 Comments

Fiduciary duties and functions have been discussed… just a little… over the last few years. But a recent blog entry suggests that cybersecurity should be added to them. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/21/2017 • 0 Comments

The July 1 launch of the Oregon Retirement Savings Program (OregonSaves) pilot has been a success, says a report by the Oregon Retirement Savings Board. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/20/2017 • 0 Comments

President Trump’s executive order intended to cut tax regulatory burdens does not apply to retirement-related regulations and actions by the IRS, the Treasury has indicated. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/18/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS Office of the Chief Counsel has reiterated an earlier IRS statement that Congress did not intend the one-rollover-per-year limit for IRAs to apply when the custodial institution fails. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/14/2017 • 0 Comments

Financial wellness incorporates many things, and a primer on the subject argues that it also encompasses retirement readiness, but with a twist: employees’ retirement readiness also benefits employers. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/13/2017 • 0 Comments

Keeping abreast of the whereabouts and life status of retirees and beneficiaries — and even terminated vested participants — are increasingly important fiduciary responsibilities. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/12/2017 • 0 Comments

It is important that the SEC bring "clarity and consistency” to “standards of conduct that investment professionals must follow in providing advice to Main Street investors,” SEC Chairman Clayton said on July 12. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/10/2017 • 0 Comments

The last word one would associate with the DOL's fiduciary rule is “dispassionate.” But that accurately describes a new report about it by the Congressional Research Service. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/7/2017 • 0 Comments

Employees who may have the greatest longevity at an office in terms of circuits around the sun and as part of payroll, have — and pose — concerns unlike those of younger cohorts. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/1/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS has made some changes to how it deals with pre-approved plans, hoping to encourage employers to switch from individually designed plans to the pre-approved format. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/30/2017 • 0 Comments

The public sector's response to cybercrime to protect its retirement plans and participants is not uniform, a recent report suggests.
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By John Iekel6/22/2017 • 0 Comments

Automatic features can help overcome retirement saving gridlock — but they are not necessarily a panacea and can have consequences of their own. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/22/2017 • 0 Comments

The Oregon Retirement Savings Program on June 22 filed a temporary amendment to its program rules with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office. The amendment modifies language related to enrollment. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/19/2017 • 0 Comments

The Carolinas share a border, a name, and a need to address problems with their state pension plans; however, their problems are as different as north is from south. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/13/2017 • 0 Comments

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on June 12 signed into law Senate Bill 1, a measure that provides new state employees hired after Jan. 1, 2019 with three retirement benefits from which they can choose. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/12/2017 • 0 Comments

It’s heeeeere. But for many practitioners, practices and firms that read the tea leaves, the fiduciary rule has been a reality for a while and already has shaped what they do and how they do it.
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By John Iekel6/8/2017 • 0 Comments

What color is the retirement readiness mood ring? Recent studies and insights give us answers as varied as the spectrum.
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By John Iekel6/8/2017 • 0 Comments

No tropical systems are near the U.S. yet, but it can be helpful to review ways that plan sponsors and their service providers can prepare… just in case. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/6/2017 • 0 Comments

A recent panel discussion addressed best practices for record-keeping private real estate investments. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/6/2017 • 0 Comments

Newly minted SEC Chairman Clayton welcomes the DOL's invitation to look at the standards of conduct that are at the core of the DOL’s fiduciary rule. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/5/2017 • 0 Comments

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a decision it handed down June 5 that religiously affiliated non-profits’ plans are exempt from ERISA even if they were not originally established by a church. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/5/2017 • 0 Comments

That may seem an odd equation. And yet, a speaker at a recent retirement industry conference argues exactly that. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/19/2017 • 0 Comments

Choosing between a lump sum and regular, smaller payments over a long period is only the beginning — there are other moving parts to the process, and many considerations. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/19/2017 • 0 Comments

The number of workers participating in the Social Security system has risen, as has the number of people receiving benefits; however, individual retirement accounts figure very prominently as well. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/17/2017 • 0 Comments

PBGC premiums are an important — and growing — concern for DB plans, their administrators and their sponsors, but there are questions about what they pay for. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/15/2017 • 0 Comments

Why would an individual opt to receive a lump sum payment? Some experts offer their insights. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/15/2017 • 0 Comments

Why would one want to work with a TPA or a bundled provider? Practitioners discuss the plusses and minuses. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/11/2017 • 0 Comments

The PBGC has had solvency problems, but its condition improved somewhat in 2016, according to new data. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/5/2017 • 0 Comments

Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read has expressed determination to continue pursuing OregonSaves regardless of the U.S. Senate’s passage of H.J. Res. 66. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/5/2017 • 0 Comments

The DOL's fiduciary rule has been bouncing around official Washington for years, but it may not matter that its fate is still unclear — the spirit of the rule already may be taking hold. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/3/2017 • 0 Comments

A Social Security Administration issue paper examines the similarities and differences between Social Security benefits and annuities, and the factors determining lifetime retirement income. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/1/2017 • 0 Comments

Reporting and disclosure are functions all pension systems must perform, and public systems are no exception. So how are they doing? A recent study takes a look. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/26/2017 • 0 Comments

It’s tempting to believe the report that Millennials spend more on coffee than they save for their eventual retirement, but a recent analysis challenges what seems to be conventional wisdom. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/7/2017 • 0 Comments

“I would encourage caution among policymakers when considering dramatic changes to retirement policy for tax policy purposes,” former Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) told a Senate committee on April 5. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/6/2017 • 0 Comments

An April 5 session of the Enrolled Actuaries meeting in Washington, D.C., cosponsored by the American Academy of Actuaries and the Conference of Consulting Actuaries, addressed the effort to address and foster employees’ financial wellness. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/5/2017 • 0 Comments

The security the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) offers plans and their participants comes at a price — obtaining that succor can be complicated, as PBGC panelists attested at an April 3 session of the Enrolled Actuaries meeting in Washington, D.C. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/4/2017 • 0 Comments

One of the basic rules for fiduciaries is that “there is no place to hide,” said Keith Sartain, a partner at AON Hewitt, at an April 3 session of the Enrolled Actuaries meeting in Washington, D.C. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/4/2017 • 0 Comments

There is a “dynamic policy-making situation just ahead,” Earl Pomeroy, senior counsel at Alston & Bird and a former member of the U.S. House, said at an April 3 session of the Enrolled Actuaries meeting in Washington, D.C. READ MORE

By John Iekel3/27/2017 • 0 Comments

There is a disconnect between knowing one should be ready for retirement and actually being so. But recent research on the subject contains good news, too. READ MORE

By John Iekel3/17/2017 • 0 Comments

Some plan fiduciaries contend that passively managed funds allow one to avoid ERISA liability. But a recently released white paper suggests they are not a panacea. READ MORE

By John Iekel3/17/2017 • 0 Comments

Public-sector pension plans in the United States face many challenges. But a recent paper suggests that how accounting rules are applied is relevant to how their condition is approached. READ MORE

By John Iekel3/13/2017 • 0 Comments

Not all of the reaction to the DOL fiduciary rule has been negative; some firms have been actively applying the rule before it is fully applicable and they must do so. READ MORE

By John Iekel3/10/2017 • 0 Comments

It bears repeating that cybersecurity is a big concern — and especially in the context of retirement plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel3/6/2017 • 0 Comments

A TPA can build an engaged workforce in different ways: One is to offer an ESOP, and another is to be part of a multiple employer plan. Here’s a look at two TPAs that chose those paths. READ MORE

By John Iekel3/6/2017 • 0 Comments

Drains on retirement income abound. That’s natural in the course of daily life. But one of them — long-term disability — is largely unheralded, despite its being less than rare, argues a recent analysis. READ MORE

By John Iekel2/28/2017 • 0 Comments

Public pension plans across the country face many challenges, to put it mildly — and among them, says a recent report, are the investment return assumptions for those plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel2/23/2017 • 0 Comments

The American Retirement Association on Feb. 21 sent a letter to the Oregon State Treasury containing its comments on the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan (ORSP), also known as OregonSaves. READ MORE

By John Iekel2/22/2017 • 0 Comments

An unnamed financial services company is suing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over the CFPB’s exercise of power and the plaintiff’s contention that it is unchecked. READ MORE

By John Iekel2/17/2017 • 0 Comments

The DOL fiduciary rule was on track until the November election brought an administration that could delay its application or even withdraw it. But are the rule’s prospects really that dim? READ MORE

By John Iekel2/17/2017 • 0 Comments

On Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 20, the ASPPA offices will be closed and ASPPA Connect will not be published that day and will reappear on Feb. 22; here are some interesting facts about a little-known chief executive. READ MORE

By John Iekel2/13/2017 • 0 Comments

The Trump administration’s rapid-fire executive orders and regulatory announcements and reviews could delay, gut or even kill the fiduciary rule. But a recent analysis suggests the genie may be out of the bottle. READ MORE

By John Iekel2/6/2017 • 0 Comments

At a Feb. 3 U.S. Chamber of Commerce conference, “The Shifting Paradigm of Retirement,” a panel of experts addressed the changing dynamics of the workforce and its financial wellness. READ MORE

By John Iekel2/6/2017 • 0 Comments

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule, as well as other regulations and laws that affect and govern retirement plans, were part of the discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce meeting on Feb. 3. READ MORE

By John Iekel2/1/2017 • 0 Comments

There is now an “even greater opportunity” for tax reform, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 1, but he offered no specifics on what it may portend for retirement plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel1/31/2017 • 0 Comments

Employer-provided retirement plans remain key to retirement saving to many employees, and interest in some aspects of those plans is especially strong, says a recent study. READ MORE

By John Iekel1/25/2017 • 0 Comments

House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) says that Congress is “seeking ideas” on how to increase saving, including retirement saving. READ MORE

By John Iekel1/24/2017 • 0 Comments

Recent changes to the proposed rules for the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan were fueled by comments the state Treasury received that sought more information on what employers’ responsibilities will be under the plan. READ MORE

By John Iekel1/24/2017 • 0 Comments

The PBGC can use its valuation method to calculate the Durango-Georgia Paper Co.’s terminated pension plan’s unfunded liabilities, says a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge. READ MORE

By John Iekel1/19/2017 • 0 Comments

The Oregon State Treasury has updated proposed rules for the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan. READ MORE

By John Iekel1/17/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS on Jan. 18 issued a proposed regulation that would allow forfeitures to be used to satisfy safe harbor contribution requirements; the ASPPA Government Affairs Committee has been actively seeking this revision since 2011. READ MORE

By John Iekel1/17/2017 • 0 Comments

The IRS has announced that the last day of the remedial amendment period for 403(b) plans is March 31, 2020. The American Retirement Association had recommended that the IRS provide an initial three-year restatement period for employers adopting pre-approved 403(b) plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel1/12/2017 • 0 Comments

Donald Trump's presidential election victory and the success of Republicans in holding the House and Senate put the immediate future of the DOL’s fiduciary rule in some doubt; a recent analysis explores its prospects. READ MORE

By John Iekel1/4/2017 • 0 Comments

In the second of a two-part series, several experts tell us that MEPs, state plans and financial education are areas in 2017 in which the exuberance of the start of a new year will be especially pronounced.

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By John Iekel12/19/2016 • 0 Comments

In the first of a two-part series in which experts share their expectations for the coming year regarding retirement plans, they discuss the DOL's fiduciary rule. READ MORE

By John Iekel12/16/2016 • 0 Comments

In the Nov. 15 ASPPA webcast, “What the Election Means to the Retirement Industry,” Brian Graff, CEO of the American Retirement Association and Executive Director of ASPPA, offered his insights on what the industry can expect in the wake of the Nov. 8 elections. READ MORE

By John Iekel12/7/2016 • 0 Comments

A new study discusses inconsistencies entailed in providing services to governmental retirement plans as well as the antidote to that and to lackluster participation and deferral rates. READ MORE

By John Iekel12/5/2016 • 0 Comments

Automatic enrollment can be an effective, low-impact way to increase participation in retirement plans and boosting retirement readiness, but there is a body of research that suggests automatic enrollment may not be a panacea. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/29/2016 • 0 Comments

The IRS has issued proposed regulations that would update the minimum present value requirements for defined benefit plan distributions. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/28/2016 • 0 Comments

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has suggested additions to Congress’ and the Treasury Department’s “to do” lists that it believes will boost retirement savings. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/23/2016 • 0 Comments

It’s orthodoxy that Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement, but a recent blog post by a resident scholar suggests that maybe saving rate gospel is more nuanced than it may appear at first blush. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/21/2016 • 0 Comments

Are multiple employer plans (MEPs) on the brink of becoming more widespread and a more important part of the retirement plan universe? Perhaps. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/18/2016 • 0 Comments

The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act, which would amend the Internal Revenue Code to encourage retirement savings, was placed on the Senate’s legislative calendar by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) Nov. 16. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/11/2016 • 0 Comments

Recent analyses offer a look at the readiness of the current youngest generation and how well their elders are helping prepare them. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/2/2016 • 0 Comments

The IRS, Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation released the advance copies of the 2016 Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF on Nov. 1. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/27/2016 • 0 Comments

The IRS on Oct. 27 in Notice 2016-62 announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2017. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/26/2016 • 0 Comments

The IRS has made big changes to the Determination Letter (DL) program. It’s new, but is it improved? An Oct. 25 panel at the ASPPA Annual Conference held at National Harbor, Md. discussed this year's changes in the program. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/25/2016 • 0 Comments

Much-anticipated guidance on the DOL fiduciary rule will be coming soon, according to Phyllis Borzi, head of the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). She made the remarks Oct. 25 during the Government Update session at the ASPPA Annual Conference. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/25/2016 • 0 Comments

Mistakes are inevitable for anyone — retirement professionals included. But while it is predictable that people will make mistakes, how they will respond is not. If they’re wise, they’ll consider making an apology, argued Lauren Bloom of Elegant Solutions Consulting, LLC, in the Oct. 24 keynote address at the ASPPA Annual Conference at National Harbor, Md. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/24/2016 • 0 Comments

The last year featured some 'Big Bangs' — and so will the year to come, for that matter. The popular Current Events Update at this year’s ASPPA Annual Conference Oct. 24 included a light-hearted look at current events. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/24/2016 • 0 Comments

What’s the retirement plan industry’s biggest concern in the coming election? ASPPA Executive Director Brian Graff addressed the issue in the opening session of ASPPA’s 2016 Annual Conference at National Harbor, Md. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/14/2016 • 0 Comments

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Resident Scholar Andrew Biggs shares his views on what can be done to improve entitlements and increase retirement saving. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/6/2016 • 0 Comments

In the second of a series of articles that features the insights of American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Andrew Biggs, he shares his views on how demographics relate to and affect entitlements and retirement policy and benefits. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/3/2016 • 0 Comments

In a recent paper, the American Enterprise Institute offers its views on approach entitlements differently; in a series of articles AEI Resident Scholar Andrew Biggs shares his views on entitlements in general and how they relate to retirement policy and benefits in particular. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/4/2016 • 0 Comments

A recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) takes a look at the PBGC Multiemployer Program's condition and offers suggestions on improving its solvency. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/12/2016 • 0 Comments

In private letter ruling (PLR) 201628006, released on July 8, the IRS says that the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules apply to a designated IRA beneficiary even though a state court modified the beneficiary designations. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/7/2016 • 0 Comments

In a recent study, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that some aspects of employer-provided retirement benefits have grown in the last one to four years, while others have declined slightly and many have held steady. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/27/2016 • 0 Comments

Wellness is a hot topic, and that means not only physical, but also financial, health. Financial wellness is relevant to, and an aspect of, retirement readiness. A June 21 panel at the 2016 SPARK National Conference in Washington, DC included a discussion of financial wellness and what it means.
Clients are key to how it is defined, panelists indicated. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/27/2016 • 0 Comments

Panel discussions at the June 20-21 SPARK National Conference in Washington, DC offered insights into the effects the DOL fiduciary rule is already having and how the retirement industry can prepare in the less than 10 months remaining before its effective date. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/21/2016 • 0 Comments

There are plenty of financial pressures on DC plans, providers and sponsors. Not to mention the importance clients place on fees when considering whether to drop an investment manager. In a June 20 session at the 2016 SPARK National Conference held in Washington, D.C., Tom Kmak, CEO of Fiduciary Benchmarks, offered some ideas on how it can be addressed. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/10/2016 • 0 Comments

The general elimination of periodic determination letters was “shortsighted,” the Employee Plans Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities says in its 2016 Report of Recommendations. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/20/2016 • 0 Comments

Increasingly, a plan’s digital platform is becoming participants’ main point of contact with the plan. What can consumer research tell us about doing a better job of fulfilling users’ digital expectations? READ MORE

By John Iekel5/13/2016 • 0 Comments

America faces “a huge undersaving problem that will catch up with us,” warned participants at a recent panel discussion of financial literacy and retirement readiness. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/13/2016 • 0 Comments

How can we best address the challenges we face concerning retirement security? Speakers at the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Policy Forum offered several perspectives. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/12/2016 • 0 Comments

A May 5 session at LIMRA’s 2016 Retirement Industry Conference offered some hard data on perceptions of — and risks to — retirement readiness. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/9/2015 • 0 Comments

As the Department of Labor prepares the final iteration of its proposed fiduciary rule, it may be useful to look back on how this all came about and what it entails — and the Congressional Research Service has issued a report that facilitates just that kind of review. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/23/2015 • 0 Comments

In an Oct. 21 session at the ASPPA Annual Conference, James E. Holland discussed the trees in the thick forest of rules concerning defined benefit lump sum issues. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/22/2015 • 0 Comments

t’s all about service. That was the core message of an Oct. 20 session at the 2015 ASPPA Annual Conference in which Norman Levinrad, President and Chief Actuary of Summit Benefit and Actuarial Services, offered practical tips and insights for managing client relationships and expectations. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/20/2015 • 0 Comments

The Department of Labor is seeking to make it easier for states to fit within the framework of ERISA in their efforts to establish state-run retirement plans, says Phyllis C. Borzi, head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/20/2015 • 0 Comments

The IRS will not backtrack on its recent decision to stop answering questions by email and no longer forward questions sent to IRS Customer Account Services, Commissioner of the IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division Sunita Lough said at an Oct. 20 update on federal agency activity at the 2015 ASPPA Annual Conference. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/19/2015 • 0 Comments

Current regulatory issues facing the retirement industry, its professionals and participants were highlighted in a lively Oct. 19 general session at the 2015 ASPPA Annual Conference. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/19/2015 • 0 Comments

“Ethics is in our daily life,” says Michael P. Coyne, President of Waldheger Coyne, at “Professionalism and Ethics Case Studies: Going Beyond Circular 230,” a workshop session he presented at the 2015 ASPPA Annual Conference Oct. 19. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/18/2015 • 0 Comments

Robert M. Kaplan, Vice President, National Training Consultant at Voya Financial, offered insights and pointers on hardship distributions at an Oct. 18 workshop at the 2015 ASPPA Annual Conference held in National Harbor, Md. just outside our Nation’s Capital.   READ MORE

By John Iekel7/16/2015 • 0 Comments

Whether we have retirement a crisis, or merely a series of hard problems, captured the ultimate issue an expert panel addressed at an American Enterprise Institute July 15 discussion at its Washington, DC offices,. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/18/2015 • 0 Comments

The June 17 Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee hearing provided ample illustration that the debate on the Department of Labor’s fiduciary proposal is far from over. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/5/2015 • 0 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation paid $5.4 billion in benefits to 842,000 retirees nationwide in 2014, it has reported; it also has broken down that data by state. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/15/2015 • 0 Comments

The DOL’s ERISA Advisory Council at its May 27-29 meeting will include examination of lifetime plan participation. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/11/2015 • 0 Comments

The Illinois Supreme Court was of one mind on May 8, unanimously ruling that the state’s 2013 pension reform law violates the state constitution. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/8/2015 • 0 Comments

In testimony at a recent hearing held by the Rhode Island House Committee of Labor, the American Retirement Association expressed strong support for a bill that would establish a private-sector employer IRA program in the Ocean State. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/6/2015 • 0 Comments

Cyber attacks, and the threat they pose to firms that provide finance-related services and their clients, prompted the recent release by the SEC’s Division of Investment Management of some steps that can protect against them. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/24/2015 • 0 Comments

The IRS in a recently released private letter ruling (PLR) said that transfers of surplus pension assets can be used to cover health benefits funded under a Code Section 401(h) account. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/14/2015 • 0 Comments

It’s been a long time coming, but after a nearly five-year odyssey the Department of Labor on April 14 unveiled a proposed regulation that redefines who a plan fiduciary is — and makes it clear that the Obama administration intends the rule to be a way to increase consumer protections for plan sponsors, fiduciaries, participants, beneficiaries and IRA owners. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/10/2015 • 0 Comments

Small defined benefit plans that have received audit waivers need more frequent review, says the Department of Labor’s Inspector General in a report concerning EBSA’s oversight of small plans claiming the audit waiver. READ MORE

By John Iekel3/30/2015 • 0 Comments

The PBGC seeks to revise forms it needs to implement Section 303(k) of ERISA and Internal Revenue Code Section 430(k) and seeks extension of OMB approval of certain forms. READ MORE

By Ray Harmon, John Iekel3/19/2015 • 0 Comments

Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White confirmed March 17 that the commission will “implement a uniform fiduciary duty for broker-dealers and investment advisors where the standard is to act in the best interest of the investor.”
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By John Iekel3/17/2015 • 0 Comments

The Treasury Department and IRS have invited recommendations on what the priority guidance plan for 2015-2016 should contain.
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By John Iekel3/12/2015 • 0 Comments

The IRS announced on March 11 that for the first time in two years it has updated the information package containing sample plan provisions concerning pre-approved 403(b) plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel3/10/2015 • 0 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation announced on March 9 that the Office of Management and Budget has approved the 2015 PBGC premium filing instructions READ MORE

By John Iekel3/9/2015 • 0 Comments

Identical bills before both chambers of the Iowa legislature would end state taxation of pensions and other forms of retirement income — but only through 2020.

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By John Iekel3/5/2015 • 0 Comments

The New Jersey Pension and Health Benefits Study Commission has issued its findings and proposals for how the Garden State can address its seemingly intractable state pension funding problems. READ MORE

By John Iekel2/25/2015 • 0 Comments

ASPPA CEO and Executive Director Brian Graff has warned that the fiduciary rule reproposal could have serious and negative consequences.
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By John Iekel2/11/2015 • 0 Comments

Floridians who take loans against their retirement plans have to pay a state tax on those distributions. But the Florida House of Representatives is considering a bill that would change that.
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By John Iekel1/26/2015 • 0 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) was not arbitrary and capricious when it concluded that Kentucky Bancshares was obliged to comply with the Pension Protection Act and ERISA when it terminated its retirement plan and trust, the 6th Circuit has ruled.
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By John Iekel1/13/2015 • 0 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on Jan. 12 issued a draft of the 2015 premium filing form and instructions. It provides information for plans paying premiums for plan years beginning in 2015, including instructions for all the particular forms of data that must be reported.
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By John Iekel1/7/2015 • 0 Comments

In enforcing the law, the Pension and Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) needs to remember its mission to preserve and protect defined benefit plans; that was PBGC Participant and Plan Sponsor Advocate Constance Donovan's message in the report she issued Dec. 31. READ MORE

By John Iekel12/29/2014 • 0 Comments

All disbursements from a retirement plan scheduled to be made at the same time are treated as a single distribution even if they are sent to multiple destinations, a new rule that becomes mandatory as 2015 dawns. READ MORE

By John Iekel12/17/2014 • 0 Comments

Filers of Forms 5500 and M-1 will now be able to prepare for 2014 filing. Advance copies of the 2014 Forms 5500 and 5500-SF are now available, the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration announced on Dec. 15. READ MORE

By John Iekel12/12/2014 • 0 Comments

The IRS in Notice 2014-77 has updated the 2014 Cumulative List of Changes in Plan Qualification Requirements. The list is primarily for single-employer individually designed defined benefit plans plans and single-employer individually designed defined contribution plans that are in Cycle E to use when they submit determination letter applications for plans between Feb. 1, 2015 and Jan. 31, 2016.
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By John Iekel12/10/2014 • 0 Comments

New Year’s Eve is the deadline for most 2014 required minimum distributions to be made. The IRS issued that reminder Dec. 8 in news release IR-2014-112. Generally, RMDs from 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans as well as IRAs must be made by Dec. 31. READ MORE

By John Iekel12/8/2014 • 0 Comments

June 30, 2015 is the new deadline for submitting on-cycle applications for opinion and advisory letters for pre-approved defined benefit plans for the plans’ second six-year remedial amendment cycle. READ MORE

By John Iekel12/5/2014 • 0 Comments

On Jan. 2, 2015, the IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) Division will transfer those duties to the IRS Office of Associate Chief Counsel (TE/GE), which then will take on technical responsibilities concerning qualified retirement plans and IRAs. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/26/2014 • 0 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) on Nov. 24 issued a final rule that provides guidance on treatment of benefits resulting from a rollover distribution from a DC plan to a DB plan, when the DB plan is terminated and trusteed by the PBGC. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/25/2014 • 0 Comments

Fortune 1000 companies’ pension plans fared well in 2014, a continuation of trends that began in 2013. And that, says Towers Watson, means that the risks a pension plan poses an employer have shrunk. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/19/2014 • 0 Comments

The Department of Labor has announced that on Jan. 15, 2015 it will hold a hearing on whether Credit Suisse affiliates can serve as qualified professional asset managers. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/17/2014 • 0 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on Nov. 17 released its 2014 annual report, which had good news and bad news for the agency that protects pension benefits for millions of Americans in private-sector pension plans.
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By John Iekel11/14/2014 • 0 Comments

As industry consolidation continues apace, the universe of 401(k) plan providers for employers is shrinking. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that competition among the providers is correspondingly reduced. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/11/2014 • 0 Comments

Updated mortality assumptions for participants and beneficiaries in private-sector defined benefit plans have been issued by the Society of Actuaries (SOA in its Mortality Improvement Scale MP-20141 Report, along with its companion document, the RP-2014 Mortality Tables Report. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/6/2014 • 0 Comments

We hear a lot about how well Americans are saving — or not — for their retirement. In that spirit, Legg Mason Global Asset Management has unveiled EZ IRA, a payroll deduction IRA program intended to provide a way to build that savings rate. READ MORE

By John Iekel11/4/2014 • 0 Comments

The Government Accountability Office in a recent report has highlighted one of the ways public- and private-sector deferred benefit plans differ — valuation. “Pension Plan Valuation: Views on Using Multiple Measures to Offer a More Complete Financial Picture” outlines and discusses these differences and their implications. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/30/2014 • 0 Comments

ASPPA’s College of Pension Actuaries (ACOPA) at an Oct. 28 luncheon during ASPPA’s Annual conference, held at National Harbor, Md., awarded its designation of Fellow, Society of Pension Actuaries (FSPA) to 14 outstanding actuaries. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/29/2014 • 0 Comments

ASPPA General Counsel and Director of Regulatory Affairs Craig P. Hoffman and Joe Canary, director of the Office of Regulations and Interpretations for the Employee Benefit Security Administration, discussed some of the recurring and unresolved matters regarding participant disclosures at an Oct. 28 session of the ASPPA Annual Conference at National Harbor, Md. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/29/2014 • 0 Comments

It’s not often that retirement plan professionals have the chance to ask a distinguished panel for their take on sometimes thorny, sometimes complicated, sometimes nagging issues. But attendees at an "ask the experts" session on the last day of ASPPA’s Annual Conference, held in National Harbor, Md., had that opportunity. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/29/2014 • 0 Comments

Remember the kids' game, Hot Potato? Seems like there's a grown-up version too, for plan administrators who perform a fiduciary role. That was what Nicholas J. White, Special Counsel at Trucker Huss, addressed in an Oct. 28 session at ASPPA's 2014 Annual Conference at National Harbor, Md. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/28/2014 • 0 Comments

Turning 40 is one of those storied moments — and not just for individuals. ERISA turned 40 this year, affording an opportunity to take stock of its impact and whether it is functioning as intended. An Oct. 28 panel discussion at the 2014 ASPPA Annual Conference, held at National Harbor, Md. discussed exactly that. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/28/2014 • 0 Comments

Never a dull moment for plan administrators and actuaries. And that’s even more true when you throw federal regulations into the mix. A panel discussion at ASPPA’s 2014 Annual Conference on Monday, Oct. 27 provided an update on regulatory changes affecting DB plans . READ MORE

By John Iekel10/28/2014 • 0 Comments

The finer points of administering a cash balance plan and working with equivalent benefit accrual rates were the topics of discussion at an Oct. 27 session of the 2014 ASPPA Annual Conference. Lawrence Deutsch, president of Larry Deutsch Enterprises, and Michael B. Preston of Preston Actuarial Services offered their insights. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/26/2014 • 0 Comments

If you are a 3(16) plan administrator, one of the keys to success — if not survival — is to know what your responsibilities are, and that is spelled out in the plan document, says Ilene Ferenczy of the Ferenczy Benefits Law Center. She made her remarks at an Oct. 26 session of the ASPPA Annual Conference at National Harbor near our nation’s capital. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/24/2014 • 0 Comments

Any employer, plan administrator, third party administrator, plan sponsor etc. knows how many moving parts there are to meeting reporting deadlines and complying with IRS rules and regulations. Apparently the IRS does as well, and it has updated “Retirement Plan Reporting and Disclosure Requirements,” a detailed guide that provides information concerning reporting requirements and deadlines. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/24/2014 • 0 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) on Oct. 24 announced the premium rates for 2015. Some rates increased sharply, while other increases were far more modest. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/23/2014 • 0 Comments

The IRS and Social Security Administration have issued their cost-of-living adjustments relevant to retirement benefits for 2015. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/23/2014 • 0 Comments

The 2014 ASPPA Annual Conference kicks off Sunday at the Gaylord National Resort at the National Harbor, located in Oxon Hill, Md., just outside our nation’s capital. We'll be there from the start until the conference ends on Wednesday, reporting on the Annual's general sessions, workshops and more. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/17/2014 • 0 Comments

The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 had consequences for annual financial and actuarial information reporting under Section 4010 of ERISA and part 4010 of the PBGC regulations. To better clarify how it applies, the PBGC on Oct. 17 issued Technical Update 14-2: Effect of HATFA on 4010 Reporting. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/17/2014 • 0 Comments

The number of single-employer defined benefit plans has dropped sharply over a nearly 40-year period, while multiemployer DB plans' decline has been far less dramatic. But Bureau of Labor Statistics Office of Compensation and Working Conditions economist William Wiatrowski shows in a study that it's too simplistic to explain this by noting that DB plans have long been declining as DC plans have grown. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/16/2014 • 0 Comments

In an Oct. 15 letter to Department of Labor Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration Phyllis Borzi, ASPPA has urged the DOL to issue regulations that provide a longer period for all disclosures. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/7/2014 • 0 Comments

According to a recent study, by and large, third party administrators want the same thing from their retirement service providers that their own clients often want from them: good service, ease of doing business and a functional website.
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By John Iekel10/3/2014 • 0 Comments

The way to move forward in promoting retirement saving is not to dismantle the 401(k) and employer-based system — far from it. Rather, we should continue to refine the system and expand coverage and participation. That was the message conveyed by Mark Iwry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury and Deputy Treasury Assistant Secretary (Tax Policy) for Retirement and Health Policy, at the NAPA DC Fly-In Forum on Sept. 30. READ MORE

By John Iekel10/2/2014 • 0 Comments

The digital world offers revolutionary means to communicate, store and share data. But using it in a responsible and ethical manner is as important as it is challenging, as Lauren Bloom, an expert on professional ethics and risk management, pointed out in the recent ASPPA webcast, “Ethics and Professionalism in the Digital Age.”

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By John Iekel9/29/2014 • 0 Comments

They’ve been a while in coming, but they are here: the IRS on Sept. 26 issued final regulations on electronic filing of Form 8955-SSA and Form 5500-EZ in certain circumstances. The IRS had issued the regs in proposed form in August 2013 READ MORE

By John Iekel9/25/2014 • 1 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on Sept. 24 issued Technical Update 14-1, guidance on how the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (HATFA) affects PBGC premiums. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/23/2014 • 0 Comments

Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler has presented the legislature with recommendations for increasing Oregonians’ retirement savings, access to a retirement plan and ability to enroll in one. The recommendations are the work of the state’s Retirement Security Task Force.
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By John Iekel9/18/2014 • 0 Comments

Johnson & Johnson is joining the ranks of the employers that have reduced pension benefits for new employees. The company, ranked 39th among the Fortune 500, made the announcement in an internal memo READ MORE

By John Iekel9/16/2014 • 0 Comments

Washington has been training its eye on fees and transparency for years now. But so is the industry; the North American Securities Administrators Association is the latest organization to convene a group trying to make sure broker-dealers are giving investors fee disclosures they can understand. READ MORE

By John Iekel9/15/2014 • 0 Comments

Notice 2014-53, the recent guidance from the IRS on pension funding stabilization under the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, contains a provision that is in accordance with a request by the ASPPA College of Pension Actuaries.
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By John Iekel9/10/2014 • 0 Comments

The Garden State is the latest state whose credit rating has suffered due to a pension funding shortfall. Credit agencies have downgraded their ratings of New Jersey debt due to the state’s worsening pension funding ratio.
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By John Iekel9/8/2014 • 0 Comments

The IRS has released a draft of the Form 5500-EZ to be used for 2014 reporting. The draft is only for information purposes — it cannot be filed. Nonetheless, the draft provides an advance look at what the version to be used for filing probably will contain and require.
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By John Iekel9/8/2014 • 0 Comments

In the last 15 years, there has been a wide redistribution of corporate resources regarding retirement benefits, and that includes a sharp shift from offering defined benefit plans. That reorientation, which in many cases is from DB plans to defined contribution plans, carries opportunities but also risks for employers as well as employees, a new report by Towers Watson indicates.

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By John Iekel8/29/2014 • 0 Comments

The gender gap in retirement savings is closing. In fact, it could be on course to reverse the long-standing predominance of men's retirement savings rates, says a recent study by MassMutual. 
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By John Iekel8/29/2014 • 0 Comments

Eastman Kodak, one of New York State’s major employers, has changed its retirement plan in a rather unorthodox way. Kodak still offers both a defined contribution plan and a defined benefit plan, but has enhanced its DB plan while making its DC plan less attractive, Business Insurance reports. The changes go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, and affect current employees but not retirees. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/28/2014 • 0 Comments

The U.S. Census Bureau has published its annual survey of public pensions. The 2013 Survey of Public Pensions: State-Administered Defined Benefit Data provides revenues, expenditures, financial assets, membership and liabilities information for DB public pension systems. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/28/2014 • 0 Comments

We’re living longer than ever. But no one told the economy that, so for most of us saving enough to cover our expenses late in life after we’ve retired takes planning and good choices. Recent pieces from The Wall Street Journal and the Brookings Institution highlight expanded options but counsel care in making selections.  READ MORE

By John Iekel8/27/2014 • 0 Comments

This summer, for the first time in more than 20 years, Hawaii was hit by a named tropical system. ays later, a second churned offshore. Hurricane Arthur splashed through North Carolina’s Outer Banks just before July 4. And the height of the Atlantic hurricane season is about to arrive. This portends the possibility of significant property losses, business disruption and the need for hardship distributions from 401(k)s. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/18/2014 • 0 Comments

Fidelity has changed the way it manages its 401(k) plan. That took some convincing — it had been sued by 29 current and former employees on behalf of 50,000 of their peers over conflicts of interest in its plan.

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By John Iekel8/14/2014 • 0 Comments

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) have named members to the commissions they have established to make retirement savings secure. ASPPA members are among those they have named to the groups.

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By John Iekel8/14/2014 • 0 Comments

ASPPA and ACOPA, in an Aug. 13 letter to Robert Choi, Director, Employee Plans at the IRS, have requested guidance regarding the application of the funding stabilization provisions in section 2003 of the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (HTFA) to plan years beginning in 2013 and 2014.

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By John Iekel8/8/2014 • 0 Comments

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition — or, rather, an IRS or Department of Labor (DOL) audit. And yet, it can’t hurt to be ready for one. Of course, the best way to be ready is to comply with the law and regulations and follow best practices. But there are practical steps one can take to be ready as well, just in case — and the Millennium Trust Company suggests some in its recent webinar, “Preparing for and Surviving a Plan Audit.” READ MORE

By John Iekel8/8/2014 • 0 Comments

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified companies that offer advances in exchange for receiving all or part of their pension funds and questionable practices that may put plan participants at risk. “Pension Advance Transactions: Questionable Business Practices Identified,” a report the GAO prepared for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, identified questionable elements of these transactions. READ MORE

By John Iekel8/8/2014 • 0 Comments

During the last week of July, the Bipartisan Policy Center hosted a panel on retirement security — and shared some interesting perspectives on the state of America’s retirement readiness. Pension professionals should understand these perspectives, as they could well find their way into future retirement policy proposals.  READ MORE

By John Iekel8/4/2014 • 0 Comments

The proposal to restructure ASPPA has received a seal of approval, and then some. To be exact, 90% approval of the credentialed members — something beyond even categorization as a landslide. After three weeks of voting, the credentialed members have spoken, and have endorsed the plan heartily.  READ MORE

By John Iekel8/1/2014 • 0 Comments

Offering participants too many options can discourage enrollment. But what’s the “sweet spot” in terms of the optimal number of enrollment options? A test by Fidelity found that 78% of participants preferred a three-part enrollment option — and that those who chose that option contributed more.  READ MORE

By John Iekel8/1/2014 • 0 Comments

A secure retirement and adequate retirement savings are targets many Americans can attain. That’s the conclusion that Prudential has reached, based on research by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. In its most recent National Retirement Risk Index, the center found that to maintain the standard of living they had before retirement, the average American household needs their 401(k) to provide 35% of income during retirement. The exact percentage varies by income level.
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By John Iekel7/28/2014 • 0 Comments

Is the Form 5500 worth filling out and filing in the first place? Not everyone is convinced, reports Benefitspro. But file they must, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has come to the rescue, offering suggestions in its recent report, “Private Pensions: Targeted Revisions Could Improve Usefulness of Form 5500 Information” regarding how the form could be made more useful. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/28/2014 • 0 Comments

Plan participants take money out of their 401(k)s prematurely for different reasons — such as plan loans and hardship withdrawals. But the biggest driver of leakage, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), is cashing out when changing jobs.  READ MORE

By John Iekel7/25/2014 • 0 Comments

It’s easy for inertia to take over when financial decisions have to be made, especially when it comes to investment choices in a 401(k) plan. In “Using Re-enrollment to Improve Participant Investing and Provide Fiduciary Protections,” a white paper prepared for JP Morgan Chase & Co., Fred Reish and Bruce Ashton discuss one solution — re-enrollment, or requiring participants to re-invest in the plan by making new decisions about how the funds in their retirement accounts are invested.
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By John Iekel7/24/2014 • 0 Comments

This year’s ASPPA Annual Conference features a new opportunity for business leaders to network, discuss best practices and meet with peers. We’ve just added a reception for business leaders to the conference program, providing an event at which you can interact with others who share your interests and concerns. The reception will be sponsored by PensionPro Software, LLC.
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By John Iekel7/24/2014 • 0 Comments

Is Washington obsessed with rollovers? ASPPA Executive Director and CEO Brian Graff thinks so. “There’s no one who doesn’t care about this issue. There is an obsession with the rollover issue in D.C.,” said Graff in the July 22 webinar, “Washington Update: Rollovers, Rollovers, Rollovers — it’s All About Rollovers.” He and ASPPA Director of Government Affairs Ron Triche discussed the ways in which rollovers are front-and-center on the federal radar screen. 
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By John Iekel7/23/2014 • 0 Comments

Expenses charged to 401(k) plan participants declined in 2013, says a new study from the Investment Company Institute (ICI). In “The Economics of Providing 401(k) Plans: Services, Fees and Expenses, 2013,” the ICI reports that last year, participants spent less when they invested in equity, hybrid and bond funds.  READ MORE

By John Iekel7/21/2014 • 0 Comments

Target date funds (TDFs) are growing and likely to comprise a larger percentage of 401(k) assets, says Paladin Registry, an independent educational resource for investors.  READ MORE

By John Iekel7/18/2014 • 0 Comments

Seventeen states have, or are, considering measures that would allow private-sector employers to automatically enroll employees in IRAs. None of these measures has yet resulted in a law that does, although three states — California, Connecticut and Oregon — have enacted measures that create boards to study the matter, and an executive order in Maryland does so. But 14 of these states, if they enact an auto IRA law, will face an inconvenient little problem — they already have laws on the books that prevent such arrangements.  READ MORE

By John Iekel7/17/2014 • 0 Comments

ASPPA will kick off the new year with its first-ever Business Executives and Managers Conference, to be held in the Lone Star State on Jan. 26-27 at the Sheraton North Houston Hotel. It will offer great opportunities to establish new connections and strengthen those you already have, exchange ideas, and grow professionally.  READ MORE

By John Iekel7/17/2014 • 0 Comments

The PBGC is stopping its enforcement efforts in open cases involving ERISA Section 4062 (e), and will not take on any new ones until after Dec. 31, 2014. In a July 8 press release, the agency said it is doing so to ensure that its efforts are targeted at cases in which pensions genuinely are at risk. The agency also said that it plans to work with the business community, labor and other stakeholders during this period. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/15/2014 • 0 Comments

ASPPA is now seeking nominations for the Harry T. Eidson Founders Award. The award, established to honor the memory of ASPPA’s founder, Harry T. Eidson, FSPA, CPC, acknowledges individuals who have made significant contributions to ASPPA and/or the private pension system.
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By John Iekel7/15/2014 • 0 Comments

Millennials’ embrace of savings is robust, says a report the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies issued on July 15. The report says that employees born between 1979 and 1996 have a strong interest in saving and preparing for retirement.  READ MORE

By John Iekel7/14/2014 • 0 Comments

The IRS on July 11 announced that it is withdrawing a proposal it made in 1981 for an amendment to regulations governing IRA rollovers. The proposed amendment to Treas. Reg. § 1.408-4(b)(4)(ii) would have applied the rollover limitation on an IRA-by-IRA basis. This withdrawal affects individuals who maintain IRAs and financial institutions that are trustees, custodians, or issuers of IRAs. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/9/2014 • 0 Comments

Just added to this year’s Western Benefits Conference, July 27-30 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas: an update on ERISA-related litigation and the U.S. Supreme Court, which has been very active recently in the employee benefits area. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/9/2014 • 0 Comments

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration has announced that its ERISA Advisory Council will be examining issues and considerations related to facilitating lifetime retirement plan participation. In explaining its rationale for doing so, it cites the recent movement of participant assets out of defined contribution and defined benefit plans, and into retirement accounts not covered by ERISA — such as IRAs or other savings accounts — or as plan distributions.  READ MORE

By John Iekel7/9/2014 • 0 Comments

In honor of Ed Burrows’ contribution to the advancement of the general understanding of pension knowledge, an annual honorary payment of $2,000 is awarded for the best paper submitted on a topic selected by the Ed Burrows Award Committee. The winning submission will be the paper that in the committee’s judgment both adheres to that year’s topic, and best advances the understanding of the national retirement system.  READ MORE

By John Iekel7/7/2014 • 0 Comments

Growing professionally, making new connections and strengthening existing ones, exchanging ideas on actions you can take to build your business — there’s never a bad time for any of these. But the start of a new year is an especially good time, and ASPPA will be offering an ideal opportunity in the first-ever Business Executives and Managers Conference, to be held in Houston on Jan. 26-27, 2015 at the Sheraton North Houston Hotel. READ MORE

By John Iekel7/3/2014 • 0 Comments

We heard you! Market research that ASPPA is conducting has given us a good look at which industry trends cause you the most pain, and we have compiled the top eight concerns.

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By John Iekel7/2/2014 • 0 Comments

The Treasury Department issued a rule July 1 that essentially allows employees to convert part of their IRA or 401(k) balances into a longevity annuity. Under the rule, an IRA or 401(k) can allow participants to use $125,000 or up to 25 percent of their IRA or 401(k) — whichever is less — to buy a longevity annuity. The dollar limit will be adjusted for inflation in $10,000 increments.  READ MORE

By John Iekel7/1/2014 • 0 Comments

Nondiscrimination tests, sometimes described as the “rocket science” of the tax compliance world, can make an employer run afoul. And that’s exactly what happened to 57,277 of the 401(k) plans that Judy Diamond Associates reports in a study it recently released. The study says that the plans in question failed the most recent nondiscrimination tests they conducted in compliance with IRS regulations.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/30/2014 • 0 Comments

Fiduciaries of an ESOP are not entitled to any special presumption of prudence with regard to purchases or sales of employer securities, except as the duty of prudence relates to diversification of plan investments, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 25.  In an ASPPA asap, Ilene Ferenczy of Ferenczy + Paul LLP, offers her insights on this case and what the ruling means.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/27/2014 • 0 Comments

According to Acting Director of IRS Employee Plans Thomas Petit, the IRS still lists 401(k) plans among its top examination priorities. Petit provided that confirmation to attendees of the ASPPA Regional Conference in Chicago. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/26/2014 • 0 Comments

It will be a good deal more congenial than testifying before the Treasury Department — but just as informative. Maybe moreso! Robert M. Kaplan, who has more than 30 years’ worth of experience and is the recipient of the Pension Administrator’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Institute of Pension Administrators and has indeed testified at Treasury, will share his expertise on working with safe harbor 401(k)s in a July 17 webcast. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/26/2014 • 0 Comments

Early withdrawals — loans taken against plan balances, hardship withdrawals and retirement account payouts when changing jobs — can provide participants quick infusions of cash that help meet pressing needs. But these forms of “leakage” can come at the expense of their future retirement security. A new analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) provides empirical data on the full impact of leakage on 401(k) balances.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/26/2014 • 0 Comments

Proposed increases in Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation premiums are a fool’s errand at best, says a report prepared for the American Benefits Council (ABC). “Further PBGC Premium Increases Pose Greatest Threat to Pension System,” a report Quantria Strategies, LLC prepared for the ABC, warns that it would it be more than pointless to raise PBGC premiums — it would be counterproductive. 
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By John Iekel6/26/2014 • 0 Comments

There are just a few days left to weigh in on which industry trends cause you the most pain! There’s still time — but only a little — to be part of the market research ASPPA is conducting.

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By John Iekel6/26/2014 • 0 Comments

At their current savings rate, many Americans will have tough choices to make as they age. Not only that, but a low savings rate has broader serious implications for the U.S. economy and its solvency. “Another Penny Saved: The Benefits of Higher U.S. Household Saving,” a paper by Oxford Economics, paints a sobering picture of the current savings rate and its consequences for retirement. But it also offers some suggestions regarding how to address and maybe even reverse it, and what could result from that. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/24/2014 • 0 Comments

Critics of 401(k)s argue that they will not deliver on what they promised. But MSN Money reports that the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) has provided empirical evidence that their assessments may be very much off the mark. 
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By John Iekel6/20/2014 • 0 Comments

You were sure your filing with the IRS was accurate, but you double checked and found that you made a mistake. It’s tempting to stand pat and hope that the IRS won’t notice, but you know it could — and that could have negative ramifications. What to do?  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/20/2014 • 0 Comments

Defined benefit plans, DC plans and 403(b) annuity arrangements, take note: July 31 is right around the corner. That’s the day by which most plans must file the dreaded and onerous Form 5500. The clock is ticking on filing the form that reports on 2013.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/19/2014 • 0 Comments

Quick! Name a way to increase employees’ retirement readiness. Did you respond, “build employee engagement”? That’s the answer Richard Glass of Investment Horizons, Inc. would give. In his white paper, “Employee Engagement, Corporate Profitability, and Retirement Readiness," Glass argues that there is a connection between how engaged employees are and how well they prepare financially for their retirement. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/19/2014 • 0 Comments

The ink is barely dry on the legislation that raised the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums, and already there is a proposal to hike them again. In an op-ed that appears in Roll Call, Judy Miller, ASPPA’s Director of Retirement Policy, writes about the prospect and what it means and portends. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/19/2014 • 0 Comments

Generally, federal law requires employee benefit plans with 100 or more participants to have an audit as part of their obligation to file a Form 5500. Note that some pension plans with fewer than 100 participants also may be required to have an audit if they fail to meet certain conditions relating to their plan investments, bonding, and disclosure requirements. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/18/2014 • 0 Comments

Investment committee members generally are satisfied with the diversity of the committees to which they belong, according to a study by Vanguard. Nearly 30 percent defined diversity of their investment committee in terms of members’ backgrounds, and nearly 40 percent said it concerned the experience and expertise of its members. 
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By John Iekel6/13/2014 • 0 Comments

Do you know of an ASPPA member who has made a significant contribution to pension education, especially in the last 12 months? You can help make it possible for him or her to receive recognition! Nominations are now being accepted by the ASPPA Retirement Plan Academy Advisory Group for ASPPA’s Educator’s Award. But you need to act soon — the nomination window closes June 30. READ MORE

By John Iekel6/13/2014 • 0 Comments

Funds held in inherited IRAs are not retirement funds and must be included in a bankruptcy estate, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 12. The Court’s 9-0 ruling in Clark v. Rameker, No. 13-299 (U.S. 6/12/14), aff’d 714 F.3d 559 (7th Cir. 2013)) was definitive in drawing a distinction between inherited IRAs and retirement funds, and between inherited IRAs and other funds to which the Bankruptcy Code’s exemptions apply. The Court’s ruling ended years of ping-pong litigation in which successive courts reversed decisions by lower courts.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/11/2014 • 0 Comments

Have you voted yet in the market research ASPPA is conducting? The results are rolling in, but you can still participate in ASPPA’s effort to identify industry trends that regularly cause the most pain.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/11/2014 • 0 Comments

Which factors most influence plan sponsors when they choose a plan provider? At the top of the list: trustworthiness and customer service, according to a new survey conducted by the National Association of Retirement Plan Participants (NARPP). Next are technology, education, administrative service and pricing, according to a Planadvisor article.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/10/2014 • 0 Comments

Many sobering reports have been issued regarding the degree to which U.S. workers are preparing — or not — for retirement. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) Personal Savings Initiative (PSI) may not be the first effort that seeks to help turn the tide of poor savings rates, but it has heft and features a far-reaching and ongoing discussion of the problem and ways to address it.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/9/2014 • 0 Comments

Plan sponsors are committed to helping plan participants prepare for their retirement, says a study Brightwork conducted for the Principal Financial Group. The study looked at the responses of 283 plan sponsors, all of whom offer a 401(k), have more than 50 eligible employees and use the services of a paid professional to help them choose and monitor investment and service providers, design plans, conduct enrollment meetings and resolve problems with service providers.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/8/2014 • 0 Comments

The federal government and U.S. workers agree that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — a.k.a. Obamacare — will affect the timing of retirements. However, IFAwebnews reports that there’s a wide gap between what the government and many workers expect that effect to be, according to a survey conducted for MoneyRates.com.

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By John Iekel6/8/2014 • 0 Comments

ASPPA is conducting market research with TPAs and consultants in mind to help develop our educational offerings. Please take five minutes to participate in a fun, interactive online voting tool — tell us what industry trend regularly causes you the most pain and prevents you from becoming more successful.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/3/2014 • 0 Comments

When it comes to having sufficient funds during retirement, expectations are low and fears rife everywhere, according to a recent study. In “The Changing Face of Retirement: The Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2014,” the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and Aegon polled 16,000 employees in 15 counties in North and South America, Europe and Asia and found that while a growing number of respondents expect their finances — and their countries’ economies — to improve in the short term, that optimism does not translate to confidence about the more distant future. 
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By John Iekel6/2/2014 • 0 Comments

Employees who are terminated may be gone, but they’re not always forgotten — at least regarding the retirement plan. A growing number of plans allow terminated employees to live on as participants, notes Robert Leahy of Alliance Benefit Group.  READ MORE

By John Iekel6/2/2014 • 0 Comments

Fear of running out of money during retirement is common, but it’s mitigated by interest in saving — the importance of which is not lost on younger employees, according to a new BoA Merrill Lynch report. The Spring 2014 Merrill Edge Report is based on a semi-annual study that looks at the concerns of the “mass affluent” — those with household incomes between $50,000 and $250,000. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/31/2014 • 0 Comments

The ASPPA Annual Conference — an ideal opportunity to share quality time with representatives from every aspect of the retirement plan industry — will be held Oct. 26-29. Registration for the 2014 conference is now open. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/28/2014 • 0 Comments

More often than not, employees who obtain investment advice do not follow it. And that’s among those who bother to seek it in the first place. The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey suggests that advisors have some work to do in boosting plan participants’ interest and confidence in professional advice.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/28/2014 • 0 Comments

The so-called DoL “conflict of interest rule for investment advice” — formerly known as the fiduciary redefinition rule — has been delayed until January 2015. The delay was revealed in a posting of the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which notes that a second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will not be issued until January, but it does not state a specific date.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/28/2014 • 0 Comments

This white paper by Lowell M. Smith of Inspira looks at the problems posed by uncashed pension checks, which include handling interest on the funds awaiting transfer, notification requirements and how appropriate corrective actions are, not to mention the added complication of there being no clear guidance from the IRS and the Department of Labor on the subject. This paper examines the regulatory issues surrounding uncashed checks as well as possible solutions for handling them. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/27/2014 • 0 Comments

More than 90 percent of the plan sponsors that filed their final Form 5500 filings the IRS Employee Plans Compliance Unit (EPCU) examined in its “Final Return With Assets Project” had at least one error, the IRS reports. Final Forms 5500 are required even if a plan has been exempt from filing a Form 5500-EZ (the annual return of a one-participant retirement plan) in previous years. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/27/2014 • 0 Comments

The ASPPA Board of Directors has decided that the best way to serve the society’s traditional members going forward is to create a new sister organization focused solely on their unique needs and concerns. The Board has recommended keeping the ASPPA name for the new sister, given its almost 50-year brand identity among retirement plan professionals. The “new ASPPA” would join ACOPA, NTSA and NAPA as part of a new “hub” organization to be named the American Retirement Council.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/24/2014 • 0 Comments

A May 21 Senate Finance subcommittee hearing that purported to be about strengthening Social Security morphed into a critical discussion of the merits of the defined contribution system and industry.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/21/2014 • 0 Comments

Exercising the fiduciary duties of prudence and disclosure regarding target date funds (TDFs) can be challenging, and a white paper by Richard Glass of Investment Horizons, Inc. discusses the issues 401(k) fiduciaries face and provides suggestions for addressing them.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/21/2014 • 0 Comments

A recent study by Financial Engines and Aon Hewitt says that if a plan participant invests all or nearly all of their retirement assets in target date funds (TDFs), it can affect returns. Barrons also weighs in on the issue, quoting Bloomberg’s Ben Steverman.  
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By John Iekel5/19/2014 • 0 Comments

The PBGC wasted no time in responding to a study critical of proposed increases in PBGC premiums. It issued its response on May 14, the same day the Pension Coalition released “Increasing Pension Premiums: The Impact on Jobs and Economic Growth,” reports BenefitsPro. The PBGC agreed that premiums need to be reformed, but also sought to deflect blame for the proposed hikes. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/16/2014 • 0 Comments

Auto enrollment and escalation can be very useful in boosting plan participation and setting in motion all the good effects that result from that. But like medicines, they should be used properly — and if they’re not, they can cause harm. So argues a new white paper from Milliman, “Auto enrollment: Two Sides to Every Coin.”  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/15/2014 • 0 Comments

Some states and cities have found that cutting cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to the pensions they provide their employees is a way to loosen the financial vise of pension liabilities. The Center for Retirement Research of Boston College in its recent study, “COLA Cuts in State and Local Pensions” discusses this child of the Great Recession and generous pension plans whose context has changed.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/14/2014 • 0 Comments

Some 30 percent percent of small businesses say it is at least somewhat likely they will eliminate their existing retirement plans if the DOL adopts its proposed, expanded definition of a fiduciary, according to a study by Greenwald & Associates released May 14. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/14/2014 • 0 Comments

ASPPA and other groups that represent thousands of employers urged the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives in separate letters to oppose any efforts to further increase premiums paid to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation by sponsors of single-employer DB plans. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/14/2014 • 0 Comments

The IRS will soon launch a new pilot program that will give relief to certain plan sponsors and administrators from penalties for filing the Form 5500 or Form 5500-EZ late. Only those who are not entitled to automatic relief under Title I of ERISA will be eligible under the pilot program.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/9/2014 • 0 Comments

Workers are more concerned about — and more interested in doing something about — their retirement income than they are about financing their health care, a new Towers Watson study reveals. In fact, not only are they more concerned about setting something aside for their retirement, a majority said they are even willing to trade other benefits for guaranteed retirement income later.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/7/2014 • 0 Comments

Much has been made about providing fee disclosure statements to plan sponsors and participants. But a paper by Mercer and the Stanford Center on Longevity, “Retirement Income Statements May Help Avert a Looming Crisis,suggests that participants would be at least as interested — if not moreso — in electronic statements about projected retirement income from their accounts. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/7/2014 • 0 Comments

The Office of Management and Budget has approved revisions to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s standard termination, distress termination and missing participants forms and instructions. The new forms and instructions can be found on the Plan Terminations page of PBGC’s website.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/7/2014 • 0 Comments

The funded status of private- and public-sector pension plans is a classic example of bad news/good news. To wit: Corporate pensions’ funded status fell in April, but only very slightly; and some states’ pensions are in bad shape, but funding of public-sector pension plans overall is improving.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/6/2014 • 0 Comments

The Great Recession wrought a lot of havoc — and 401(k)s did not escape the maelstrom. Many consider the recovery of the U.S. economy to be very gradual; a recent report by Gallup indicates that the same may be said for that of confidence of those not yet retired in 401(k)s as a primary source of retirement income.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/6/2014 • 0 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation has revised two schedules to be used with 2014 Form 5500 filings. The PBGC modified the Schedule MB (multiemployer defined benefit plan actuarial information) and the Schedule SB (single-employer defined benefit plan actuarial information) and related instructions. The PBGC seeks the Office of Management and Budget’s approval of the modifications before it issues the revised schedules for use with 2014 filings. 

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By John Iekel5/5/2014 • 0 Comments

Pension plans have a lot of adjustments to make in order to comply with the PBGC premium payment rules, which the PBGC amended for plan years beginning in 2014 and beyond. And even if a plan does not owe the PBGC a premium, it still must make a premium filing. READ MORE

By John Iekel5/2/2014 • 0 Comments

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) didn’t mince words at a May 1 event on multiemployer pension plan reform: the current state of affairs “will inflict a lot of pain on homes and workplaces,” and something needs to be done. He made his remarks at an event the Quality Construction Alliance and Bloomberg Government held in Washington, D.C.  READ MORE

By John Iekel5/1/2014 • 0 Comments

There are things you should do — and not do — in using social media. And it’s especially complicated for those in the retirement plan industry, since social media communications must comply with the rules promulgated by regulatory bodies and others. Join us for an upcoming webcast, “Realities of Social Media in a Regulated Industry,” on Thursday, May 15 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. 

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By John Iekel4/30/2014 • 0 Comments

The Moving Ahead for the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) pension-funding stabilization provisions, which have been in effect for two years, are most likely to be applied to the determination of funding requirements of larger plans, those with lower funding ratios and plans with a higher number of inactive participants, a new Society of Actuaries (SOA) study shows. The SOA based its research on the data that defined benefit plans reported on their 2012 Form 5500 filings, the most recent the federal government has made publicly available. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/29/2014 • 0 Comments

Target date funds play an increasingly important role in retirement plans, and monitoring a plan’s TDF options is fast becoming one of the most important fiduciary obligations plan sponsors face in managing their retirement plan investment lineup. According to a white paper by Cammack Retirement Group, TDFs hold more than half a trillion dollars, including DC plan assets, and there’s no end in sight. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/27/2014 • 0 Comments

More and more employers are making Roth accounts available within their DC plans — and more employees are taking them up on the offer, according to a new white paper from Aon Hewitt. The number of employers that offer Roths within their DC plans more than quadrupled over the last six years, hitting 50 percent by last year. 
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By John Iekel4/25/2014 • 0 Comments

Defined contribution plans that were rewritten between May 1, 2008 and April 30, 2010 and that the IRS pre-approved need to be restated with the IRS. The six-year restatement period begins May 1, 2014 and ends April 30, 2016. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/25/2014 • 0 Comments

In two recent pronouncements, the IRS issued plan document guidance for pre-approved defined contribution plans being restated for the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (Announcement 2014-16), as well as 403(b) arrangements (Revenue Procedure 2014-28). According to the latest ASPPA asap, written by Richard A. Hochman, the guidance is a mixed bag. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/24/2014 • 0 Comments

A recent GAO report found that while 81,000 new employer-sponsored retirement plans were formed during the 3-year period between 2009 and 2011, the overall trend was negative due to plan terminations — even with increased tax incentives. In addition, new plan formation during that period was below 2003-2007 levels. But the news was not all bad: The number of participants grew. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/23/2014 • 0 Comments

Just under half of employers in a study by the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute say that the Affordable Care Act has affected the way they run their retirement plans and how much they spend on them. Fifty-five percent of the surveyed employers that have made changes because of the ACA said they are spending less on their plans and shifting costs to their employees.
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By John Iekel4/22/2014 • 0 Comments

The IRS can do more to identify improper deductions for contributions the self-employed make to their simplified employee pension plan retirement accounts. And it could bring in $71 million over five years if it does, says the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration in a recently released report. 

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By John Iekel4/21/2014 • 0 Comments

Pension funding status slipped in March and liabilities grew, says a report by consulting and actuarial firm Milliman, Inc. Milliman reports that for 100 of the largest U.S. DB plans, pension liabilities grew to the tune of a collective $5 billion. Milliman blamed a drop in the monthly discount rate to 4.30 percent, down 0.08 from February’s 4.32 percent.  READ MORE

By John Iekel4/16/2014 • 0 Comments

In an exclusive interview with Christopher Carosa of FiduciaryNews, ASPPA Executive Director/CEO Brian Graff reaffirms his strong support, and that of ASPPA and its sister organizations, for real and tangible action to ensure a secure retirement for working Americans. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/14/2014 • 0 Comments

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation has proposed allowing an employee to roll over funds from a DC plan into a DB plan.The proposal, which the PBGC issued on April 1 and was published in the Federal Register on April 2, is intended to increase returns by making rollovers easier and removing limits that could inhibit retirement saving.  READ MORE

By John Iekel4/14/2014 • 0 Comments

A majority of small businesses said in a recent study that the fee disclosure statements they receive from plan providers and vendors are more understandable than those they received in 2012.

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By John Iekel4/14/2014 • 0 Comments

New guidance from the IRS may make the plan-to-plan rollover process a little smoother. Revenue Ruling 2014-9, issued on April 3, is intended to make it easier for plan participants to consolidate their retirement savings accounts by making it easier for them to move assets from one employer plan to another.  READ MORE

By John Iekel4/13/2014 • 0 Comments

The funding ratio of DB benefit plans sponsored by employers in the S&P 1500 offer fell slightly in March. Mercer found that the funding ratios of those companies’ DB plans slipped to 85 percent; it had been 87 percent in February.  READ MORE

By John Iekel4/11/2014 • 0 Comments

“I’m a fiduciary? What does that mean?” Strange as it may seem, there are plenty of plan sponsors who ask that question — more than half of them, in fact, according to Unified Trust Company CEO Dr. Gregory W. Kasten. In an ASPPA webcast, “Breaking Down the Many Fiduciary Roles, Obligations and Service Models,” he offered information to dispel the fog regarding what a fiduciary does and can do.  READ MORE

By John Iekel4/10/2014 • 0 Comments

Plan advisors are well aware that one of their clients’ newest — not to mention most publicized and even controversial — demands is fee disclosure. To meet that demand, some advisors are going a step further. Investment News reports that some advisors are providing fee policy statements in addition to the required information. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/10/2014 • 0 Comments

Many employers match a certain percentage of what their employees defer into their 401(k)s. In the wake of the recent debacle at AOL, Investment News looked at the advantages and disadvantages of providing the match on an annual basis. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/9/2014 • 0 Comments

Some rays of sun appear to be dispelling the gloom that has long engulfed employees’ confidence in their ability to fund a comfortable retirement. The Employee Benefit Research Institute in its 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) reports that more than half of employees are at least somewhat confident of that. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/9/2014 • 0 Comments

Your clients offer 401(k) plans, and all have 401(k) plan committees. Those committees have fiduciary responsibility, and it’s in your clients’ interest to make sure they are fulfilling their duties. They can do that through meetings of those committees and quarterly reviews, our friends at the 401khelpcenter remind us, and offer some tips on those functions. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/8/2014 • 0 Comments

Advisors can still play an important role in helping plan sponsors and participants manage an employee’s funds even after retirement, a new study by Vanguard suggests. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/8/2014 • 0 Comments

Offering participants too many options can discourage enrollment. But what’s the “sweet spot” in terms of the optimal number of enrollment options? A test by Fidelity found that 78 percent of participants preferred a three-part enrollment option — and that those who chose that option contributed more.

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By John Iekel4/7/2014 • 0 Comments

IRS guidance and a pointed reminder from an industry group illustrate the increased frequency and importance of rollovers, not to mention that they are piquing the interest of federal regulators and interest groups.   READ MORE

By John Iekel4/7/2014 • 0 Comments

More than 50 million employees in the United States participate in a 401(k) plan, and recent research shows strong employee interest in contributing part of one’s salary to achieve a comfortable retirement. Employers have a variety of features they can incorporate in the plans they offer, and they can use them to increase not only assets, but employee participation and involvement too.  READ MORE

By John Iekel4/7/2014 • 0 Comments

Sometimes rules are made to be broken — even when they are long-standing and seem rock-solid. The 4 percent rule is one, and “Breaking the 4 Percent Rule,” a recent paper by J.P. Morgan makes the case for that. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/6/2014 • 0 Comments

Municipal bankruptcies like Detroit’s bring into sharp relief the effect such financial strains can have on pensions, as well as the effect of what local and state governments do. But there is good news — most states have taken steps to protect public-sector pensions.  READ MORE

By John Iekel4/6/2014 • 0 Comments

Target date funds reflect that flexibility and engagement have become firmly entrenched aspects of retirement plan management for both participants and plan sponsors. In a NAPA webinar, “Target Date Trends and Evaluation,” T. Rowe Price’s Jerome A. Clark discussed how TDFs reflect greater discretion over how funds are managed. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/6/2014 • 0 Comments

Is your pension plan fully funded? The answer is relevant to more than individual participants’ accounts, as Bob Collie posits in the Fiduciary Matters Blog. A plan’s funding level also affects how a plan’s assets are allocated and invested, as well as pension de-risking.  READ MORE

By John Iekel4/6/2014 • 0 Comments

Saying that she is troubled by 401(k) providers that are circumventing the 408(b)(2) fee disclosure rule’s demands, EBSA’s Phyllis Borzi warned providers March 11 that they need to do a better job at following the rule’s requirements to provide information that is easy to understand. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/5/2014 • 0 Comments

Research released by EBRI March 18 shows that a sizable portion of the population has saved very little. That’s sobering by itself, but a closer look reveals more regarding what that means for retirement plan participants and sponsors. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/5/2014 • 0 Comments

What do DB benefit plans, DC plans and 403(b) annuity arrangements have in common? Yes, there’s the obvious. But also, they all are retirement plans that must file the dreaded and onerous Form 5500. And for most of them, the clock has begun to tick on filing the form that reports on 2013. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/4/2014 • 0 Comments

In remarks at a recent conference on income inequality, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the incoming Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, may have tipped his hand on how he will treat employer-provided retirement plans, advocating the simplification and consolidation of “the array” of current retirement savings accounts. Wyden also said he would like to move toward a system of automatic savings for workers. READ MORE

By John Iekel4/4/2014 • 0 Comments

On the Department of Labor’s radar screen: requiring DC plan administrators to adjust the benefit statements they distribute to provide lifetime income illustrations based on current and projected account balances. So a recent study by the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute is particularly well-timed. The study shows that not all information is equal — or even useful. LIMRA found that while most employees find retirement income projections helpful, others found it wanting.  READ MORE

By John Iekel4/3/2014 • 0 Comments

The words have barely faded from the teleprompter, but retirement experts have wasted no time in expressing caution regarding the “myRA” retirement accounts President Obama unveiled in his State of the Union Address. Chris Carosa of Fiduciary News provides a comprehensive list of 10 reasons to be cautious about myRAs. READ MORE