In our recent post “When Employees Retire Matters…to Employers” we acknowledged that most of the content was from an insurance company deeply committed to the employee retirement plan market. The initial section of this post is drawn from the same with our edits and commentary in italics to this very worthwhile material.
Recently, we received material from an insurance company that is deeply committed to the employee retirement plan market. In our judgement the material provides important and actionable information for plan sponsors. It is not our practice to publish ghost written articles and pass them off under our own name, which is what the company intends and some investment advisors and health insurance brokers choose to do. However, when the material provided is worth reading, we’re happy to excerpt it with, at minimum, disclosure that it isn’t our work or with additional commentary and edits, as we are doing here. The insurance company material follows with our edits in italics like this preface.
Anyone even remotely involved with employee benefits, especially those handling health care and retirement plan matters, is aware that “financial wellness” for employees is one of the big trends. What they also know is that the term encompasses a wide range of services and offerings, some of excellent quality and others rather thin and of doubtful value.
This is a special response post co-authored by FPG team members Ed Lynch and Chuck Humphrey.
Recently, during a corporate plan sponsor’s retirement committee meeting, I was asked a question that not only had I never been asked before, I had never thought of. It was “If we, relying on you as our investment advisor, are holding onto a fund that is underperforming short-term but participants are signaling their dissatisfaction by transferring their money out, should we consider replacing the fund with something they’d find more attractive?” As I say, I’d never given a moment’s thought to this and said so. We had some further discussion that included our colleague Chuck Humphrey, a frequent blog contributor, who serves as FPG’s consultant to this client. (I, through our sister company Dietz & Lynch Capital, am the investment adviser). Our quickly reasoned response was that, no, it would not be appropriate to replace a fund we otherwise felt should be retained based on participant behavior. However, we promised to give the matter further thought. This post is one result.
...Recently Proposed Legislation Could Make That Happen
Anyone who works with small 401(k) plan sponsors knows that they have none of the time, patience, skills or desire to be plan administrators or ERISA fiduciaries. Regardless of this, the law tasks them, whether they ignore them or not, with significant responsibilities and creates financial risks for them.
Over the last few years there have been those of us in the industry who have advocated for a better way – one that eliminates the fiduciary dysfunction we currently see in the small employer market. The better way is through the aggregation of the plans of unrelated 401(k) plan sponsors into single plans called multiple employer plans.
In late September, IRS’ Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TEGE) issued its Work Plan for the 2018 fiscal year. The Work Plan tells us the issues the IRS will be focusing on in the coming year and how it will be using its compliance resources. The 2018 fiscal year runs from October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018.
With the knowledge the Work Plan provides, plan sponsors and their service providers can work to ward off potential problems likely to draw the attention of the IRS. As such, I view the Work Plan as a kind of plan sponsor checklist.
This is the fifth and final installment in a series containing remarks by Chuck Humphrey, Esq. that were made as part of a panel discussion on ERISA fiduciary responsibility issues at the annual meeting of the Tax Exempt /Governmental Entity (“TE/GE”) Councils*. The remarks have been edited for purposes of this series.