The Top Story for 2017 for Fiduciaries Was…

By John Iekel • January 08, 2018 • 0 Comments
The champagne flutes have been put away and offices and schools are open again — 2018 is underway. So what was the top news story of the year that just ended? In a recent post on, Christopher Carosa shares which subjects he found generated the greatest interest, and suggests that also may provide an indication of what service providers and retirement industry professionals may do in the new year.

5. 21st Century 401(k) Plan Design. Carosa says that experience of a plan sponsor whose operation “headed one of the nation’s most sophisticated 401(k) plans” concerning behavioral finance techniques and avoiding dangerous fads, as well as providing current benchmarks, generated strong interest.

4. Remarks of the ‘Founder’ of the 401(k). Carosa reports strong interest in the remarks of Ted Benna, considered by some to be the father of the 401(k), concerning why there is so much activity concerning 401(k)s and what may lie ahead.

3. Impact of the Fiduciary Rule. Carosa expresses surprise that the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule was not the year’s top story. But while it was not, he argues that “it’s still relevant that readers were thinking about this topic” and that in 2017, employers gained “a better understanding of what they need to look out for to act as fiduciaries for their plan participants.”

Why wasn’t it the top story? Writing for BenefitsPro, Carosa suggests that one explanation may be what he calls “fiduciary fatigue” — that “the world has had enough of ‘fiducuary’ and decided to move on.” He adds, “Fiduciary is now the assumed de facto standard among most retirement plan professionals.”

2. Questions That Should Be Asked. Carosa finds that there is “great appreciation” among 401(k) plan participants and sponsors “for understanding that it’s not what you know that’s important, but it’s knowing that you don’t know what’s important that’s important.”

Carosa told BenefitsPro that answering questions that “everyone knows to ask” is a subject that has been written about too much. But, he says, identifying “questions no one is asking but everyone should be” is a different matter.

1. MEPs. Carosa indicates that he is not surprised at the level of interest in multiple employer plans and how they would fare under tax reform. “MEPs have been the Holy Grail for the industry for several years now. It appears we’re finally getting closer, but will they merely be the Godot we’ll forever wait for?” he asks.

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