Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
December 15th, 2014
Webcast Event
Your firm and your plan participants may benefit from considering work location and participant wealth factors—like job type, regional home values and other aspects of total wealth—when developing your retirement plan programs. Join subject-matter experts from the Morningstar Investment Management group as they share their new research and provide practical ways to help improve retirement plan design. The study suggests that plan sponsors interested in building custom target-date solutions should consider industry-specific human capital, region-specific housing, and other types of risks unique to their participants.Read more >
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The Washington Connection: Key issues in the run-up to mid-terms
In the newest “Washington Connection” installment, Ann Combs, head of Vanguard Government Relations, offers insight on the latest legislative and regulatory issues from our nation’s capital. Click here to hear more.Read more >
Benefits & Administration
Higher Ed. Employees Set Retirement Savings Example
Employees at colleges and universities are more likely than employees in other professions to have taken concrete steps to plan and save for retirement, a TIAA-CREF survey suggests. In addition to saving in their employer-sponsored retirement plans, 42% of higher education employees have saved in an individual retirement account (IRA), compared to 34% of American employees overall. While 36% of college faculty and staff say they have met with a financial adviser, only 22% of the general population report the same. TIAA-CREF says the actions of higher education employees set a good example for Americans as a whole when it comes to planning and saving for retirement.Read more >
More Employers Considering Private Health Exchanges
A survey from the Private Exchange Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC) shows 97% of employers are very likely to offer medical coverage to at least some employees in 2016, up from 77% predicting they would offer such benefits by 2016 last year. Private health insurance exchanges are one option employers are exploring in order to minimize health care costs, reduce their administrative burden, and increase benefit choices. A small percentage of employers have implemented private exchanges for 2015 (6.4% for actives), but interest in private exchanges as an option for full-time active employees over the next several years is increasing. This year’s survey finds one out of five (20%) employers are considering private exchanges as an option for 2016, and 41% say private exchanges will be an option by 2018.Read more >
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Building Inclusivity Into Employee Benefits
Products, Deals & People
Insurance broker and benefits provider NFP expanded its employee benefit offerings with the acquisition of EBS/Foran Insurance and Advisory Services, Inc. The Massachusetts-based Foran, with locations in Dennis and Northborough, specializes in designing health and welfare benefit plans for employers.Read more >
Sun Life Financial says a new partnership with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. expands its ability to deliver insurance products and employee benefit solutions. Gallagher clients on the Gallagher Marketplace private exchange can now access a variety of Sun Life products, including voluntary short-term disability, long-term disability, life, accidental death and dismemberment, critical illness and cancer insurance.Read more >
The Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS) has issuee a unique request for proposals (RFP) for investment strategies that can favorably exploit the recent melt-down in global petroleum markets. The RFP is posted on the OCERS Web site under the Investments section at www.ocers.org.  Proposals are due no later than January 18, and there will be a pre-bid teleconference for registered bidders on January 9, 2015. According to OCERS CIO Girard Miller, “We are exploring the available options to deploy our capital strategically and timely in light of the recent plunge in crude oil prices and the anticipated shake-out in the American energy industry.  OCERS will consider both equity and debt strategies in this competitive procurement.”
From the Magazine
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Individual annuity contracts—from which Tim Walsh, head of investment services at TIAA-CREF in Boston, contends many 403(b) plans were built—are now causing confusion for some 403(b) plan sponsors. It’s an opportunity for both plan providers and consultants to offer some helpful expertise to plan sponsors as they redesign their investment menus, says Walsh. Based on 2007 Treasury regulations, the current regime for 403(b) plans requires more plan sponsor oversight of participant activities and investments, and when an investment vehicle is owned by individual participants, this is very hard to do. In addition, can a plan sponsor with an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)-governed 403(b) truly carry out its fiduciary duties with individual annuity contracts as plan investments?Read more >
Economic Events

The Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand fell 0.2% in November. This decrease followed a 0.2% rise in October and a 0.1% decline in September. In November, the index for final demand goods fell 0.7% and prices for final demand services rose 0.1%.

THE ECONOMIC WEEK AHEAD: Tomorrow, the Census Bureau will report about housing starts for November. Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will reveal the consumer price index for November. Thursday, the Labor Department will issue its initial claims report.

Market Mirror

Friday, the Dow plunged 315.51 points (1.79%) to 17,280.83, the NASDAQ fell 54.57 points (1.16%) to 4,653.60, and the S&P 500 closed 33.00 points (1.62%) lower at 2,002.33. The Russell 2000 decreased 14.51 points (1.24%) to 1,152.45, and the Wilshire 5000 lost 329.06 points (1.54%) to finish at 21,009.83.

On the NYSE, 3.2 billion shares traded, with a near 4 to 1 lead for decliners. On the NASDAQ, 2.8 billion shares changed hands, with 2.5 declining issues for every advancing issue.

The yield for the 10-year Treasury note and 30-year Treasury bond were 2.083% and 2.737%, respectively.

WEEK’S WORTH: For the week ending December 12, the Dow fell 3.78%, the NASDAQ closed 2.66% lower, and the S&P 500 lost 3.52%. The Russell 2000 was down 2.54%, and the Wilshire 5000 decreased 3.52%.

Investing
Institutional Investors Face a Complicated 2015
Pension funds and other institutional investors believe they will meet their long-term return objectives, a new Natixis Global Asset Management survey shows, but most are worried about increasing market correlations and the challenge of earning stable short-term returns in the current environment.The Natixis 2014 Institutional Investors Survey suggests institutions are struggling to generate sufficient and reliable short-term returns within traditional asset-allocation strategies.Read more >
Strategic Insight, an Asset International company, revealed net new investment in stock and bond funds was robust in November, with inflows totaling $52.7 billion. Net intake for equity products totaled $34 billion in November, led by a $23 billion inflow to U.S. equity.Read more >
Small Talk
ON THIS DATE: In 1791, Virginia became the last state to ratify the Bill of Rights, making the first ten amendments to the Constitution law and completing the revolutionary reforms begun by the Declaration of Independence. In 1896, the U.S. government awarded Patent Number 573,174 to inventor Stephen M. Balzer for a gasoline-powered motor buggy that he built two years earlier. Balzer never mass-produced any of his cars, but his “experimental” vehicle was one of the first functioning automobiles to be built in the United States. In 1877, Thomas Edison patented the phonograph. In 1944, an aircraft carrying legendary bankleader Glenn Miller went missing over the English Channel en route to France for a congratulatory performance for American troops that had recently helped to liberate Paris. In 1966, Walter Elias “Walt” Disney died in Los Angeles at the age of 65. In 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on the Judiciary released a 265-page report recommending the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for high crimes and misdemeanors. In 2001, Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened after a team of experts spent 11 years and $27 million to fortify the tower without eliminating its famous lean.
SURVEY SAYS: DC Plan Success Measures
Last week I asked NewsDash readers, “How often does your company benchmark the success of its defined contribution (DC) plan?” and, “What measures are looked at?” All respondents work in a plan sponsor role. The majority (91.7%) reported they benchmark the success of their DC plans once per year, while the rest (8.3%) do so every five years. When the plan is benchmarked, 91.7% measure average participation rate, and the same percentage measure administrative expenses compared to peer plans. More than 83% measure average deferral percent, and 100% measure investment expenses compared to peer plans. More than 58% measure the percentage of participants properly diversified in investments, and 41.7% measure the percentage of participants getting the full match. Nearly 42% measure participants’ use of educational materials/website, and one-quarter measure the percentage of participants on track to replace a certain income level in retirement. I also asked respondents to measure the importance of each of these metrics to assessing the success of their DC plans.Read more >
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Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer alison.mintzer@strategic-i.com

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