Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
February 6th, 2015
Benefits & Administration
Managing Benefits Costs a Top Goal for Companies
A survey released by Wells Fargo Insurance reveals managing costs and maintaining employee productivity are the most important goals in both the short (12 to 18 months) and long term (five years) for C-suite executives and benefit managers. Wellness programs will be a top priority for companies over the next five years, followed by coverage of family members, employee attraction due to benefit offerings, and employee retention due to benefit offerings. Most companies have already made changes to their health benefit plans in 2015.Read more >
The estimated aggregate funding level of pension plans sponsored by S&P 1500 companies decreased from 79% as of December 31, 2014, to 74% as of January 31, 2015, according to Mercer. Sharp decreases in interest rates used to calculate corporate pension plan liabilities, coupled with losses in equity markets, brought funded status down by 5%.Read more >
Products, Deals & People
Cafaro Greenleaf Introduces Investment Fiduciary Services
Cafaro Greenleaf announced the roll out of its Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) 3(21) and 3(38) investment fiduciary services. The firm, which serves corporate, public and nonprofit retirement plans, developed the service in response to strong demand from advisers and retirement plan sponsors seeking expert advice on selecting and monitoring the investment options available to plan participants, while mitigating fiduciary liability for plan trustees.Read more >
LSEG to Sell Russell Investment Management
The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) recently completed its due diligence review of Russell Investments as part of the ongoing takeover of Russell’s various business lines, following an acquisition from Northwestern Mutual. LSEG says the comprehensive review focused principally on assessing the strategic fit of Russell’s investment management resources with the group’s long-term strategy. “After careful consideration the conclusion of the comprehensive review is to explore a sale of this business [unit] in its entirety,” LSEG says.Read more >
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Economic Events

In the week ending January 31, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance was 278,000, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the Labor Department reported. The four-week moving average was 292,750, a decrease of 6,500 from the previous week’s revised average.

The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.59%, down from 3.66% one week ago, according to Freddie Mac. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 2.92%, down from 2.98%.

Market Mirror

Yesterday, the Dow gained 211.86 points (1.20%) to finish at 17,884.88, the NASDAQ increased 48.39 points (1.03%) to 4,765.10, and the S&P 500 was up 21.01 points (1.03%) at 2,062.52. The Russell 2000 climbed 17.27 points (1.45%) to 1,208.71, and the Wilshire 5000 closed 238.06 points (1.11%) higher at 21, 774.50.

On the NYSE, 3.2 billion shares traded, with a 3 to 1 lead for advancers. On the NASDAQ, 2.8 billion shares changed hands, with 2.8 advancing issues for every declining issue.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note was up 1/32, decreasing its yield to 1.819%. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond increased 3/32, bringing its yield down to 2.431%.

Compliance
Why Some Pensioners Worry About Risk Transfer
A three-judge U.S. court of appeals panel heard oral arguments February 4 in the class action suit Lee v. Verizon, a case regarding the transfer of 41,000 Verizon retirees’ pension accounts into a single group annuity sponsored by Prudential Insurance Company. The main worry of retirees is that their billions of dollars in income annuities won’t be as well protected as Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)-covered benefits, for example in the case of a personal bankruptcy or the admittedly unlikely bankruptcy of Prudential. In a conversation with PLANSPONSOR, Jack Cohen, Association of BellTel Retirees Chairman, outlined the plaintiffs’ other concerns.Read more >
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) will pay retirement benefits for more than 1,600 current and future retirees at Hovensa LLC, which owns an oil refinery and oil storage terminal in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hovensa’s oil refinery was built by the U.S. oil giant Hess Corp. in 1966. By 1974, the refinery was processing more than 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day. However, in 2012, the refinery was shut down because of a decline in demand.Read more >
Beneficiary Designation Forms Not Governing Plan Documents
A federal appellate court found that beneficiary designation forms were not ‘plan documents’ governing a plan administrator’s award of benefits upon a retirement plan participant’s death. Since the forms were not governing plan documents under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the issue of whether the participant substantially complied with the governing plan documents to designate his beneficiary is an inquiry under state law. The court found a reasonable trier of fact could determine that he did. The case was remanded back to the district court for further proceedings.Read more >
ACA Reporting Requirements Demand Much Preparation
Plan sponsors will need to compile detailed, month-by-month information to fulfill requirements for reporting to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and employees under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Self-insured employers must also report on minimum essential coverage provided to employees for each month in 2015. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution that answers the challenge of ACA reporting, Amy Bergner, managing director of health care and benefits at PwC, said during a recent webcast. Accurate reporting will require the resources of a number of departments and experts both in and outside a firm, she said.Read more >
Small Talk

ON THIS DATE: In 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. In 1911, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan was born. In 1933, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution was declared in effect. The amendment moved the start of presidential, vice-presidential and congressional terms from March to January. In 1952, Britain’s King George VI died, making his daughter Elizabeth queen. In 1998, Washington National Airport was renamed for U.S. President Ronald Reagan with the signing of a bill by then-President Bill Clinton.

 

And now it’s time for FRIDAY FILES!

How many times does it take to figure out where the gas tank is on your car?Read more >
Hiccups can come at inconvenient times—and they make a weather report sound funny.Read more >
In Washington, D.C., passengers on a delayed flight to New Orleans were treated to a performance by a barber shop quartet known as Port City Sound.Read more >

In Delaware County, Pennsylvania, a man shoved potatoes down his toilet for some unknown reason, causing it to clog, authorities said. According to the local NBC station, the man called the apartment building’s maintenance department several times for help, but they didn’t immediately respond. So he tried to get their attention by pulling the fire alarm. The three-story building was evacuated and police and fire officials came to the scene. The man explained why he pulled the fire alarm, and he was placed under arrest.

In Oswego, Illinois, a pizza delivery driver caught the attention of police when he went through a parking lot to avoid a red light. Police stopped the vehicle and found drug parap.hernalia, so they arrested the driver and a friend, according to the New York Daily News. Officers noticed from a receipt that the customer to whom the driver was delivering had already paid for the order and lived nearby. So, they delivered the pizza. The customer was startled, but relieved that the officers were delivering pizza and not there for other reasons, a Facebook post from Oswego Police said.

In Pensacola, Florida, police attempted to stop a man driving with no tag lights. When they put on their siren, the man pulled over and fled on foot. A deputy gave chase, but lost sight of the man. According to the Pensacola News Journal, a K-9 unit was deployed, but led deputies in a large circle. Then, the group heard a noise they described as sounding like a “snorting wild boar.” They followed the sound to find the man napping underneath a trailer.

In Phoenix, Arizona, a technical glitch in a weatherman’s map leads to an amusing weather report.Read more >
Have a great weekend!
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Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer alison.mintzer@strategic-i.com

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