November 2008

‘After’ Shocks

While financial pundits are prone to trace cyclical "corrections" to the bursting of "bubbles"—housing, tech—the resulting declines generally are not that sudden, nor are they, generally speaking, wholly unanticipated.

“Believe” Able

As we go to press, the market's tumult still rages around us, and it's still anything but clear when (if?) things will return to "normal."

November 2008 news articles that also appear in the Upfront section of the November issue.

November 2008

We all have them: those front-line experiences that are inevitable when one deals with the variety—and sensitivity—of issues associated with human beings and critical life events.

Have the Markets Moved Your Participants?

It has been hard to avoid watching what's going on in the markets and, as the third quarter wound to a close, I asked readers what, if anything, they were hearing from participants—and what, if anything, they were hearing from providers/advisers.

November 2008

Each month, Bells & Whistles highlights recent product introductions that plan sponsors may find of interest.

Storm Surge

The end of summer brought trauma to the financial markets. In September and October, the Dow plunged hundreds of points more than once, and bankruptcy plagued—and/or threatened to take down—some of the best-known financial firms in the country.

Redefining Defined Contribution

The defined contribution (DC) market­place is about to see a major shift toward a retirement-income focus, according to a new report by consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

Distress Test

Managers are certain that the U.S. economy has some rough times ahead, but they also are enthusiastic about the prospects for high-yield.

Alternative Realities

The U.S. Department of Labor's Boston office reportedly is looking into how pension plans value alternative investments, and the investigation ultimately could lead to a new DoL requirement that fiduciaries have independent valuations of these investments done.

Time Travails

Jean McCarter, et al., v. Retirement Plan for District Managers of the American Family Insurance Group, et al.

‘Group’ Thinking

Here's a dilemma Democrats face: Democrats like to side with the little guy.

Automatic Enrollment Is a Good Thing—or Is It?

Getting individuals to save more sounds great. How about 401(k) participants having larger account balances when they retire? Few would argue against it because, as a matter of public policy, it plays well and, to quote Martha Stewart, "It's a good thing."

Path Findings

On August 22, 2008, the Department of Labor (DoL) issued a proposed regulation (the Regulation) implementing a statutory exemption and a new proposed prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) that allow for the implementation of the nondiscretionary participant investment advice programs.

Sustain Abilities

The unexplored frontier for 401(k) plans is whether partic­ipant account balances are going to be large enough to pay adequate levels of retirement income. It is, in the final analysis, the critical question.