Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
January 22nd, 2015
Benefits & Administration
Plan Sponsors Offer More Robust Auto Features
Seven out of 10 (70%) companies offer automatic enrollment features in their 401(k) plans, according to an Aon Hewitt pulse survey covering the fourth quarter of 2014. The retirement and health solutions company surveyed approximately 100 companies with defined contribution (DC) plans, finding 29% of employers auto-enroll their employees in the company plan at a savings rate that is at or above the full company match threshold. Another 27% auto-enroll their employees below the full match rate, but automatically escalate contributions over time, enabling workers to save enough to receive the full match.Read more >
How to Select a Lifetime Income Product Provider
Plan sponsors do not have to provide in-plan lifetime income solutions for their plan participants. However, the topic is heating up as the issue of how participants will manage account balances to provide sustainable lifelong income garners more attention. In a whitepaper, “Fiduciary Considerations in Selecting a Lifetime Income Provider for a Defined Contribution Plan,” Fred Reish and Bruce Ashton, Drinker Biddle attorneys who specialize in Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) issues, and Steven Kronheim, vice president and associate general counsel at TIAA-CREF say fiduciaries responsible for selecting annuity providers should consider four main factors.Read more >
Regulations, Work Force Changes Challenge Plan Sponsors
Apart from the statutory changes to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), respondents to a survey fielded by Buck Consultants noted other changes in the 40 years since ERISA was enacted that directly and indirectly impact employee retirement benefits. These include such trends as increased employee turnover and the decline of “career” employees, as well as a graying work force that might not be able to retire because they have not saved enough. Read more >
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GAO Request
If you are a defined contribution (DC) plan fiduciary who has considered adopting or has adopted a qualified default investment alternative (QDIA) for your plan, please consider answering a short questionnaire sponsored by PLANSPONSOR and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Please note: GAO is not auditing or analyzing the policies or practices of any individual plan sponsor. All responses provided in this questionnaire will remain confidential. GAO will not attribute any provided information to any individual or company. GAO will accept responses to this questionnaire through January 30.Read more >
Products, Deals & People
Mercer has appointed Christine Mahoney as South market leader and Scott Jarboe as South market retirement leader. Mahoney will be responsible for enhancing client service, building and leading client teams, and elevating Mercer’s brand in the market. Jarboe will focus on ensuring client satisfaction and executing the overall retirement consulting strategy in the market.Read more >
Economic Events
Privately owned housing starts in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,089,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This is 4.4% above the revised November estimate of 1,043,000 and is 5.3% above the December 2013 rate of 1,034,000. Single-family housing starts in December were at a rate of 728,000; this is 7.2% above the revised November figure of 679,000. The December rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 339,000.
Market Mirror

Major U.S. stock indices generally rose Wednesday as investors expect a big stimulus from Europe’s central bank, higher oil prices and a batch of corporate earnings reports. The Dow was up 39.05 points (0.22%) at 17,554.28, the NASDAQ increased 12.58 points (0.27%) to 4,667.42, and the S&P 500 gained 9.59 points (0.47%) to finish at 2,032.14. The Russell 2000 fell 4.00 points (0.34%) to 1,166.25, and the Wilshire 5000 closed 94.53 points (0.44%) higher at 21,352.67.

On the NYSE, 3.2 billion shares changed hands, with 1.8 advancing issues for every declining issue. On the NASDAQ, 2.8 billion shares traded, with 1.4 declining issues for every advancing issue.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note was down 21/32, bringing its yield up to 1.863%. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond decreased 1 20/32, increasing its yield to 2.455%.

Compliance
Edison Asks Supreme Court Not to Review Fee Case
A petition submitted by Edison International asks the Supreme Court to reverse its decision to review key parts of Tibble vs. Edison International, a potential precedent-setting case related to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA’s) limitations period and whether retirement plan fiduciaries have an ongoing duty to monitor plan investment options that is distinct from the initial duty to select. Edison argues it should have been allowed a trial on Tibble’s claim that Edison breached its duty of prudence within ERISA’s six-year statute of limitations by failing to adequately monitor and remove three mutual funds added before that period.Read more >
Investing
S&P Charged with Mortgage-Backed Securities Misconduct
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a series of federal securities law violations by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Ratings Services involving fraudulent misconduct in its ratings of certain commercial mortgage-backed securities. S&P agreed to pay more than $58 million to settle the SEC’s charges, plus an additional $19 million to settle parallel cases announced by the New York Attorney General’s office ($12 million) and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office ($7 million).Read more >
Small Talk
ON THIS DATE: In 1874, a patent was issued to Samuel W. Francis for the spork. In 1947, KTLA, Channel 5, in Hollywood, California, began operation as the first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River. In 1968, “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”, debuted on NBC TV. In 1973, the Supreme Court decriminalized abortion by handing down its decision in the case of Roe v. Wade. In 1973, former President Lyndon Baines Johnson died in Johnson City, Texas, at the age of 64. In 1973, Joe Frazier lost the first fight of his professional boxing career to George Foreman. In 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII. In 1997, the U.S. Senate confirmed Madeleine Albright as the first female secretary of state. In 1998, in a Sacramento, California, courtroom, Theodore J. Kaczynski pleaded guilty to all federal charges against him, acknowledging his responsibility for a 17-year campaign of package bombings attributed to the “Unabomber.” In 2002, Kmart Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy making it the largest retailer in history to seek legal protection from its creditors. In 2010, comedian Conan O’Brien hosted his final episode of “The Tonight Show,” following an announcement by NBC earlier in the month that Jay Leno would return as the host of the long-running, late-night program.
SURVEY SAYS: In the ongoing effort to engage retirement plan participants, providers have developed mobile applications to reach them on-the-go. This week I’d like to know does your company, through its retirement plan provider, offer plan participants access to mobile applications for enrollment, plan transactions, savings modeling or retirement income calculations, or other plan and general retirement education? You may respond to this survey by 6 p.m. Pacific time today.Read more >
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Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer alison.mintzer@strategic-i.com

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