Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
March 6th, 2015
Benefits & Administration
Company Stock Considerations Depend on Employer Goal
A settlement with the Department of Labor (DOL) regarding an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) transaction and a Supreme Court decision that sponsors of retirement plans that offer company stock as an investment option are not entitled to a presumption of prudence gave ESOP plan sponsors a few things to contemplate. However, the specific implications depend on the type of ESOP a plan sponsor has.Read more >
Retirement Savings Sacrificed for College Costs
Forty-nine percent of parents polled for T. Rowe Price’s Family Financial Tradeoffs Survey agree with the statement “I’d be willing to delay my retirement to pay for my kids’ college education.” In addition, 51% agree with the statement “I’d be willing to get a second or part-time job to pay for my kids’ college education,” and 53% of parents agree with the statement “I would rather dip into my retirement savings to pay for my kids’ college education than have them take on student loans.”Read more >
Group pension buy-out sales saw a 120% increase, reaching $8.5 billion in 2014, compared to the $3.8 billion total in 2013. Sales in the pension risk transfer buy-out market have exceeded $3.5 billion for three consecutive years, according to survey results from LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. Buy-out contracts increased to 277 last year, up from 217 in 2013.Read more >
Employers Exploring New Health Care Delivery Options
Employer confidence in private exchanges is increasing: 17% view private exchanges as a viable alternative for active full-time workers in 2016. Towers Watson’s 2015 Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey finds one-quarter of employers (26%) have extensively analyzed private exchanges, and 20% say they are more interested in adopting a private exchange today than they were a year ago. Companies that have completed extensive analysis of private exchanges (versus companies that have not) are twice as likely to find private exchanges a viable alternative in 2016.Read more >
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2021 Health Savings Account Survey
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Building Inclusivity Into Employee Benefits
Products, Deals & People
Towers Watson announces the opening of an investment office in Pittsburgh with three hires. Jim Neill, Michael Dudkowski and Michael Patalsky join the professional services company from Wilshire Associates. They are tasked with providing investment services including risk assessment, strategic asset allocation, investment manager research and selection, and outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) services.Read more >
Sponsored message from Principal Financial Group
FREE WEBCAST Sponsored by: Principal Financial Group
“Building Retirement Plans That Work”
Learn how you can help drive improved outcomes for retirement plan participants. Next Tuesday, March 10 – 2:00 – 3:00 PM EST. Register now:Read more >
Economic Events

In the week ending February 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance was 320,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 313,000, the Labor Department reported. The four-week moving average was 304,750, an increase of 10,250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 294,500.

New orders for manufactured goods in January, down six consecutive months, decreased $0.9 billion or 0.2% to $470.0 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced. This followed a 3.5% December decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 1.8%. Shipments, down five of the last six months, decreased $9.8 billion or 2.0% to $479.1 billion. This followed a 0.9% December decrease.

The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.75%, down from 3.80% one week ago, according to Freddie Mac. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.03%, down from 3.07%.

Market Mirror

Positive company earnings news helped nudge major U.S. stock indices higher Thursday. The Dow closed 38.82 points (0.21%) higher at 18,135.72, the NASDAQ climbed 15.67 points (0.32%) to 4,982.81, and the S&P 500 was up 2.51 points (0.12%) at 2,101.04. The Russell 2000 gained 3.58 points (0.29%) to finish at 1,234.31, and the Wilshire 5000 increased 34.32 points (0.15%) to 22,192.84.

On the NYSE, 3.2 billion shares traded, with 1.2 declining issues for every advancing issue. On the NASDAQ, 2.8 billion shares changed hands, with a 1.3 to 1 ratio of decliners to advancers.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note was up 1/32, bringing its yield down to 2.117%. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond fell 6/32, increasing its yield to 2.731%.

Compliance
Bill Seeks to Clarify Wellness Program Rules
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) introduced legislation to reaffirm employers are within their legal rights to offer a financial reward in the form of lower health insurance premiums to employees who voluntarily make healthy lifestyle choices or who complete wellness programs. The legislation is designed to provide legal certainty for employers and to eliminate confusion caused by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuits.Read more >
U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) has introduced the Retirement Security Act of 2015 (S. 266). The bill provides that a qualified multiple employer retirement plan shall not fail to be treated as an employee pension benefit plan or pension plan solely because the employers sponsoring the plan share no common interest. The legislation would increase the cap on deferrals and matching contributions for safe harbor plans.Read more >
From the Magazine
Case Sensitive: Delivery on Demand
Under what circumstances might investment guidelines be considered one of the “other instruments” that “establish or operate a plan” and that must be supplied to participants on demand, per Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Section 401(b)(1)?Read more >
Small Talk

ON THIS DATE: In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan discovered Guam. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise was enacted by the U.S. Congress and signed by U.S. President James Monroe. The act admitted Missouri into the Union as a slave state, but prohibited slavery in the rest of the northern Louisiana Purchase territory. In 1899, the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin registered Aspirin, the brand name for acetylsalicylic acid, on behalf of the German pharmaceutical company Friedrich Bayer & Co. In 1960, the United States announced that it would send 3,500 troops to Vietnam. In 1981, Walter Cronkite appeared on his last episode of “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.” He had been on the job 19 years.

 

And now it’s time for FRIDAY FILES!

If you visit Yellowstone National Park, watch out for the buffalo.Read more >
And, if you go on safari, remember to lock your doors.Read more >

In Lincoln, Nebraska, a man was pulled over by police who asked to search his car. During the search, an officer found a sour cream container with a label on it that said “Not Weed.” They opened the container and found mari.juana. He was arrested on suspicion of drun.ken driving and cited for having less than an ounce of mari.juana.

In Inverness, UK, a man and his friends were enjoying a Saturday night out at a local pub. A female friend decided to attempt to recreate a scene from the movie Dirty Dancing as she jumped and tried to wrap her legs around the man’s waist. According to The Mirror, the man said he heard a snap and collapsed in agony. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital, underwent a three-hour operation to insert two bolts and a metal rod in his leg and faces being off work for three months. The owner of the bar said: “There was a mix of horseplay and alcohol which didn’t end well.”

In Drogheda, Ireland, after trying to break into a car by throwing rocks at a car window, a man picked up a brick and threw it. It bounced off and hit him in the face. The owner of the car found the man lying on the ground bleeding. The car owner called police after the man demanded he give him cab fare. When the police arrived, the man tried to claim the car owner assaulted him, but the car owner also owned the pub he was parked in front of and was able to get surveillance video footage of the man injuring himself. You can see that footage here.Read more >

In San Antonio, Texas, a father went to visit his son in jail. The 53-year-old walked through a security scanner while his cane went through another security device. An alarm went off, an officer twisted the top off the cane and drew out a sword. The father was arrested on a charge off unlawfully carrying a weapon.

In Trenton, New Jersey, a man visiting an Applebee’s decided to say a prayer before eating his sizzling fajita. According to the Associated Press, the man says he bowed his head, heard a loud sizzle then a pop, and felt a burning sensation on his left eye and his face. He said he panicked and knocked the food on his lap, causing more burns. The man sued the restaurant, claiming the waitress did not warn him the dish was hot. But, both a lower court and appellate court found the food posed an “open and obvious” danger, so the man cannot seek damages.

In Manchester, New Hampshire, Belmont Restaurant’s policy is to give customers a percentage off their bill on their birthday based on their age. World War II veteran Joseph Nelson visited the restaurant on his birthday and ate scrambled eggs and ham, and topped it off with a piece of chocolate cake. At age 101, Nelson actually got a seven cents refund, the local ABC station reported.

Have a great weekend! 

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Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer alison.mintzer@strategic-i.com

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