Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
April 16th, 2015
Benefits & Administration
Gen X More Worried About Retirement than Boomers
When it comes to retirement preparation and investing, members of Generation X (ages 35 to 49) tend to be more worried than Baby Boomers (ages 50 to 68), a PNC Financial Services Group survey finds. Three quarters (73%) of Generation Xers agreed with the statement “I worry that my savings may not hold out for as long as I live,” as opposed to 55% of Boomers. Eighty-four percent of all survey respondents fear that health care costs will be too expensive in retirement, topping the list of all concerns among respondents. Generation X is slightly more worried than boomers (89% vs. 83%).Read more >
According to Towers Watson, 2014 was a bad year for private U.S. pensions. The company’s annual analysis of the top 100 corporate defined benefit (DB) plans found that the Towers Watson Pension 100 (TW Pension 100) had lost 8% of their average funded status at the close of last year—a fall from 90.2% at year-end 2013 to 80.2%. Aggregate funded status numbers for DB plans overall are similar—89% to 81% for that same period—despite the fact that the value of plan assets rose, the study found. Many of the gains the plans had made in 2013 were lost, and the funding shortfall, which had shrunk that year to $128 billion, from $297 billion in 2012, ballooned back to $248 billion.Read more >
CalPERS to Adjust Contributions for Increased Longevity
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Finance and Administration Committee recommended the Board of Administration adopt new pension contribution rates for State of California and school employers that are less than originally projected, but up from the 2014-15 Fiscal Year (FY). The changes in the rates for the 2015-16 FY are driven primarily by payroll growth, salary increases, and retirees living longer.Read more >
Financial anxiety can shoot tentacles into the workplace, according to PwC US’s 2015 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, with one in five respondents admitting that issues with personal finances are a distraction at work. Fewer than half think they will be able to retire when they desire, and employees’ top financial concerns are having enough emergency savings and being able to retire when they want.Read more >
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Market Mirror

Rising corporate profits and a jump in oil prices helped push major U.S. stock indices higher on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. The Dow was up 75.91 points (0.42%) at 18,112.61, the NASDAQ gained 33.73 points (0.68%) to finish at 5,011.02, and the S&P 500 increased 10.79 points (0.51%) to 2,106.63. The Russell 2000 climbed 10.00 points (0.79%) to 1,275.35, and the Wilshire 5000 closed 120.25 points (0.54%) higher at 22,339.08.

On the NYSE, 3.2 billion shares changed hands, and on the NASDAQ, 2.8 billion shares traded, with advancing issues outnumbering declining issues 2 to 1 on both exchanges.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note increased 3/32, bringing its yield down to 1.889%. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond was up 2/32, decreasing its yield to 2.541%.

Compliance
Protection and Flexibility Themes of Fiduciary Proposal
Recognizing that the fiduciary standard applies to a myriad of highly specific circumstances, the DOL tried with its new proposal not to disrupt relationships between retirement plan advisers and clients. While the industry is still absorbing the 120-page rule and the form of the prohibited transaction exemptions (PTEs) contained therein, some concern has emerged that enforcing and interpreting the PTEs will be a herculean task. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Thomas Perez seemed to reject such concerns outright during the conference call announcing the new rule language. He said the proposal includes “broad, flexible exemptions from certain obligations associated with a fiduciary standard that will help streamline compliance while still requiring advisers to serve the best interest of their clients.”Read more >
Fiduciary Proposal Wording Invokes Storm of Comments
It’s safe to put Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-Missouri) in the camp that deeply disfavors the new fiduciary rule proposal from the Department of Labor (DOL). “Today’s proposed rule from the Department of Labor potentially harms the very people that it claims to protect: low- and moderate-income Americans seeking advice for investing for their retirement,” said Rep. Wagner, a member of the House Financial Services Committee.Read more >
From the Magazine
Decisions About Use of Different Share Classes
In a recent Department of Labor (DOL) investigation, the plan committee was asked about the share classes of the mutual funds in its 401(k) plan. In essence, the questions were: 1) Why did you pick the share classes of the mutual funds in your plan? And 2) Did you investigate whether other, less expensive share classes of the same mutual funds were available? These were not general questions. There were specific references to retail shares, R shares and institutional shares. In other words, the department’s investigator had some knowledge of the subject.Read more >
Small Talk
ON THIS DATE: In 1962, Walter Cronkite began anchoring “The CBS Evening News.” In 1972, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Apollo 16, the fifth of six U.S. lunar landing missions, was successfully launched on its 238,000-mile journey to the moon. In 1977, David Soul, of “Starsky & Hutch” fame, had the No. 1 song on the U.S. pop charts, “Don’t Give Up On Us Baby.” In 2007, in one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history, 32 students and teachers died after being gunned down on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University by Seung Hui Cho, a student at the school who later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
SURVEY SAYS: We covered a survey last week that found two-thirds of small business owners think the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will make it harder to offer competitive benefits. This week, I’d like to know, has the ACA affected the attractiveness of your health benefits to employees? And, have you enhanced other benefit offerings as a result? You may respond to this week’s survey by 6 p.m. Pacific time today.Read more >
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