Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
July 25th, 2014
Benefit Briefs
Open-Enrollment Checklist
Mercer has created a plan sponsor checklist to help ensure a successful open enrollment season. With health care reform compliance deadlines looming and the trend of individual accountability coming to the forefront, planning for this year’s open enrollment season is proving even more complex and confusing for plan sponsors nationwide, Mercer says. Communicate early and often to the newly eligible as well as those that are not, the company suggests. The coming year, 2015, is going to be the big year for the employer shared responsibility mandate under the ACA and Mercer’s research indicates a third of employers still need to make changes to comply with the requirement to extend coverage to all employees working 30+ hours per week. 
Buyer's Market
Voya Financial Launches Online Program
Voya Financial, Inc.’s Retirement Solutions business has launched myOrangeMoney, an online experience that helps customers manage their account. This new feature is designed to help the company’s more than 5 million retirement plan customers focus on how their accumulated savings translates into estimated monthly income in retirement. The content displayed on myOrangeMoneydisplays their savings as future monthly income, and highlights the progress made towards their personal goals. Voya says the online planning and account management tool is the latest in its suite of retirement readiness support offerings.
The LOMA Secure Retirement Institute introduced a third course of the Fellow, Secure Retirement Institute designation program: Planning for a Secure Retirement. The course introduces the retirement planning process, describes components of a comprehensive retirement plan, and identifies tools that help individuals create a retirement plan.  Candidates who earn credit for all three courses will be awarded the LOMA Secure Retirement Institute Certificate in Retirement Essentials.  
Economic Events
In the week ending July 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 284,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since February 18, 2006 when they were 283,000. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 302,000 to 303,000. The 4-week moving average was 302,000, a decrease of 7,250 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since May 19, 2007 when it was 302,000. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 309,000 to 309,250.

Sales of new single-family houses in June 2014 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000, according to estimates released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 8.1% below the revised May estimate of 442,000.

The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remained at 4.13% this week, according to Freddie Mac. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.26%, up from 3.23% last week.
Market Mirror
Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index lost 2.83 points (0.02%) to finish at 17,083.80, the NASDAQ Composite index dropped 1.59 points (0.04%) to end at 4,472.11, and the S&P 500 index was up just 0.97 points (0.05%) to 1,987.98. The Russell 2000 closed 1.85 points (0.16%) lower at 1,156.26, and the Wilshire 5000 gained 10.46 points (0.05%) to 21,021.06.

On the NYSE, 3.23 billion shares traded, and on the NASDAQ, 2.75 billion shares changed hands, with about 1.2 declining issue for each advancing issue on both exchanges.

The 10-year Treasury note gained 1/32, bringing its yield to 2.501% and the 30-year Treasury bond gained 5/32, dropping its yield to 3.289%.
The Feeling’s Mutual
Natixis Launches Global Tactical Allocation Fund
The Seeyond Multi-Asset Allocation Fund from Natixis Global Asset Management (NGAM) invests in stocks, bonds and volatility as an asset class. The global tactical asset-allocation fund strives to offer greater diversification by integrating equity volatility as an asset class while investing in global stocks and bonds. Equity volatility can be used to manage risk or to seek returns in different types of environment, which can be especially valuable to investors during market downturns, Natixis says. 
Rules & Regulators
Senate HELP Committee Advances ERISA Amendment
The Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced a bill seeking to better define rules for protecting pension assets when companies downsize or close. The legislation, known as S. 2511, would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)—specifically the sections pertaining to “pension downsizing liability rules.” Essentially, the bill would insert language to further define what constitutes a “substantial cessation of operations.” The goal of S. 2511, according to Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the HELP Committee, is to “ensure that there is a workable mechanism to protect pension benefits when employers show symptoms of financial distress.”
DOL Schedules Health Seminars
The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) will hold two upcoming health benefits law compliance assistance seminars. The seminars, taking place in Los Angeles and Seattle, will provide practical information, helpful tips, and clarification to individual state laws and federal health benefits laws.
Small Talk
ON THIS DATE: In 1832, the first recorded railroad accident in U.S. history occurred when four people were thrown off a vacant car on the Granite Railway near Quincy, Massachusetts. The victims had been invited to view the process of transporting large and weighty loads of stone when a cable on a vacant car snapped on the return trip, throwing them off the train and over a 34-foot cliff. One man was killed and the others were seriously injured. In 1861, the U.S. Congress passed the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution, declaring that the war was being waged for the reunion of the states and not to interfere with the institutions of the South, namely slavery. The measure was important in keeping the pivotal states of Missouri, Kentucky and Maryland in the Union. In 1917, the exotic dancer Mata Hari was sentenced to death by a French court for spying on Germany’s behalf during World War I. In 1943, Benito Mussolini, fascist dictator of Italy, was voted out of power by his own Grand Council and arrested upon leaving a meeting with King Vittorio Emanuele, who told Il Duce that the war was lost. In 1969, President Richard Nixon announced that henceforth the United States would expect its Asian allies to tend to their own military defense. The Nixon Doctrine, as the president’s statement came to be known, indicated his determination to “Vietnamize” the Vietnam War. In 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world’s first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) was born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England, to parents Lesley and Peter Brown. In 1985, Rock Hudson, a tall, dark and handsome Hollywood leading man of the 1950s and 1960s who made more than 60 films during his career, announced through a press release he was suffering from acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)—the first major celebrity to go public with such a diagnosis.
And now it’s time for FRIDAY FILES! A lesson in what happens when drivers are in a hurry.  More here   In Gainesville, Florida, a man drove his pickup truck into the rear of a vehicle in front of him that was stopped at a traffic light. He then jumped out and began banging on the driver’s window and yelling at the woman inside, but neglected to put his pickup into park. The driver of the other vehicle was frightened and drove away, leaving nothing to hold back the truck. As the truck began to roll, the man, standing in front of the vehicle, put out his arms and tried to stop it, but it ran over him, according to The Gainesville Sun. Police and paramedics arrived, but the man refused medical treatment, the report said. Police said he was stumbling and smelled of alc.ohol. Be.er guard dog.  More here   In Rock Hill, South Carolina, a man crashed his car into a ditch and emerged pantless asking two women in a nearby parking lot if they thought he would be charged with driving under the influence. When police arrived and asked for his license, he kept handing them credit cards. According to WCNC, he also kept telling them he was drunk and shouldn’t be driving. He blew a 0.31 on a breath alc.ohol test. Let’s hope this little guy uses all this power for good.  More here   Have a great weekend, everyone!
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Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer alison.mintzer@strategic-i.com

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