Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
April 17th, 2015
Benefits & Administration
More companies are adding or considering financial wellness programs for their participants, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Workplace Benefits Report. “Today’s plan sponsor must look beyond 401(k) enrollment and participation,” says David Tyrie, head of retirement and personal wealth solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “As the survey underscores, there is a growing need for companies to consider their benefits offering more holistically and provide more comprehensive financial education and solutions that can address today’s challenges, such as managing rising health care costs.”Read more >
Lack of Investment Understanding Hurts Retirement Outcomes
A majority of participants who have heard of financial terms like target-date funds (TDFs) and vesting do not understand the terms completely, and more than three-quarters (77%) do not have a formal financial plan. A study released by The Guardian Insurance & Annuity Company Inc. reveals a lack of understanding of basic investment terms likely contributes to lower plan engagement and less successful retirement outcomes.Read more >
No matter the generation, less than half of Americans responding to a recent LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute survey said they understood how much they should be saving for retirement. Only four in 10 Boomers and Generation X workers reported knowing how much they should be saving to avoid running out of money in retirement, LIMRA notes, and the figure is even worse among Millennials, at about three out of 10.Read more >
Products, Deals & People
A set of consumer-facing tools and a white paper from HealthView Services aim to help people incorporate health care costs into retirement planning. HealthView Services says its new calculators complement its existing tools used by major companies and advisers to help individuals plan for, manage and reduce retirement health care costs.Read more >
MOST READ ARTICLES
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2021 Target-Date Fund Survey
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Rush of Litigation Against Retirement Plans Expected to Continue
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2020 Recordkeeping Survey
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TRIVIAL PURSUITS: Meaning and Origin of the Idiom “Watershed Moment?”
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TRIVIAL PURSUITS: What do the M’s stand for in M&Ms?
Economic Events

In the week ending April 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance was 294,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the Labor Department reported. The four-week moving average was 282,750, an increase of 250 from the previous week’s revised average.

The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.67%, up from 3.66% one week ago, according to Freddie Mac. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 2.94%, up from 2.93%.

The Census Bureau announced that privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 926,000. This is 2.0% above the revised February estimate of 908,000, but is 2.5% below the March 2014 rate of 950,000. Single-family housing starts in March were at a rate of 618,000; this is 4.4% above the revised February figure of 592,000. The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 287,000.

Market Mirror

Thursday, the Dow was down 6.84 points (0.04%) at 18,105.77, the NASDAQ slipped 3.23 points (0.06%) to 5,007.79, and the S&P 500 decreased by 1.64 (0.08%) to 2,104.99. The Russell 2000 lost 2.45 points (0.19%) to finish at 1,272.90, and the Wilshire 5000 closed 14.17 points (0.06%) lower at 22,324.91.

On the NYSE, 3.2 billion shares traded, with 1.3 declining issues for every advancing issue. On the NASDAQ, 2.8 billion shares changed hands, with a slight lead for decliners.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged, with its yield at 1.889%. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond decreased 23/32, bringing its yield up to 2.576%.

Compliance
EEOC Issues Proposed Wellness Program Rules
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) describing how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans. The agency notes that although the ADA limits the circumstances in which employers may ask employees about their health or require them to undergo medical examinations, it allows such inquiries and exams if they are voluntary and part of an employee health program. The NPRM further requires that if an employee health program seeks information about employee health or medical examinations, the program must be reasonably likely to promote health or prevent disease. According to the EEOC, asking employees to provide medical information on a health risk assessment without providing any feedback about risk factors or without using aggregate information to design programs or treat any specific conditions would not be reasonably designed to promote health.Read more >
Changes Plan Sponsors Would See with Fiduciary Rule
Reading media reports about how the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) new fiduciary investment advice proposal will affect adviser practices, plan sponsors may be asking, “What does it mean for us and our employees?” The DOL’s new fiduciary investment advice proposal replaces or updates past guidance about advice to plan sponsors and participants in ways that would provide additional protections and make fees and who is acting as a fiduciary clearer. However, the proposal also changes the distinction between education and advice in such a way that some expect plan sponsors and participants to have access to less help and guidance.Read more >
AICPA Making Efforts to Enhance Plan Audit Quality
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is wrapping up a study of employee benefit plan audit quality, with a report expected soon. The department hasn’t said much publicly aside from indicating the study is in the works and a report is forthcoming, says Sue Coffey, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA’s) senior vice president for public practice and global alliances. However, the DOL has said it is apt to report that one-third or so audits have quality issues. “Poor audit work is a concern to us. It is unacceptable. It is something we take very seriously,” she tells PLANSPONSOR. The AICPA is in the process of executing reforms in the next six to 18 months. According to Coffey, some efforts were started before the DOL did its study, but some are a result of what is expected to come out in the study report.Read more >
Investing
Social Media Influences Institutional Investment Decisions
Social media is joining traditional financial news media as a key source of information used by institutional investors, according to Greenwich Associates. A vast majority (80%) of institutional investor decisionmakers polled by Greenwich Associates said social media is a part of their regular work flow, with three in 10 suggesting information obtained through social media has directly influenced an investment recommendation or decision.Read more >
Small Talk

ON THIS DATE: In 1521, Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. In 1629, horses were first imported into the colonies by the American Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1790, American statesman, printer, scientist, and writer Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia at age 84. In 1861, Virginia became the eighth state to secede from the Union. In 1961, the Bay of Pigs invasion began when a CIA-financed and -trained group of Cuban refugees landed in Cuba and attempted to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was a failure. In 1964, the Ford Mustang, a two-seat, mid-engine sports car, was officially unveiled by Henry Ford II at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. In 1969, in Los Angeles, Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of assassinating U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy. In 1970, with the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returned to Earth. In 1993, a federal jury in Los Angeles convicted two former police officers of violating the civil rights of beaten motorist Rodney King. Two other officers were acquitted.

 

And now it’s time for FRIDAY FILES!

Try to uproot a tree with your tractor; that’s a whippin’.Read more >

In Fremont, Ohio, a man told police he was using spray paint and a lighter to kill a mouse when he accidentally set fire to his garage. But, before that, he told them he saw flames in boxes he had recently mounted on the back of stereo speakers and that he tried to kick the fire out, but the fire spread and became worse. He then told them he went to the garage to smoke and noticed black smoke filling the garage, then ran to get a pan of water but returned to find the fire out of control. According to the News-Messenger, the fire was similar to another blaze that started in the garage in 2012. The cause of that blaze was never determined. The man has been charged with one felony count each of arson and aggravated arson.

In Lee County, Georgia, a 54-year-old man was outside his house when he fired his 9 mm pistol at an armadillo. The bullet killed the animal, but also ricocheted off of it, hit a fence, went through the back door of his mother-in-law’s mobile home, through a recliner she was sitting in, and into her back, according to the local FOX news station. The man was about 100 yards away from his mother-in-law’s home at the time, and the 74-year-old woman was fortunately not severely injured.

Those Buckingham Palace guards really do have to keep their cool at all times.Read more >

In Eastport, New York, someone told a man who discovered bed bugs in his rental car that if he saturated them with alco.hol it would kill them. So, he poured alco.hol over the bugs in the vehicle. However, he then sat in the car and lit a cig.arette, which set the car ablaze. According to the Associated Press, the man fled the vehicle but not before suffering first- and second-degree burns. Police said two other cars were damaged from the heat of the fire.

In Riverdale, New Jersey, a man woke up to find his car missing from his driveway. The man called police to report the car stolen, but while on the phone, his “friend” called to say he had taken the man’s car in order to make a court appearance and was bringing the car back. As the friend returned from the court hearing concerning drug charges, police were there to meet him and discovered a hypod.ermic needle, crack pi.pe, drug parap.hernalia and an open bottle of whis.key, NJ Advance Media reported. Police also discovered the friend had a suspended driver’s license and shouldn’t have been driving in the first place.

Have a great weekend!
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Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer alison.mintzer@strategic-i.com

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