Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
March 9th, 2018
Webcast
Join us April 3 for a webcast during which sources will discuss innovation and the world of financial wellness, including how health savings accounts are becoming a part of the retirement conversation. The session will also cover how the combination of innovative defined contribution (DC) plan design and investment solutions can help meet the unique objectives of participants approaching or in retirement. Read more >
Benefits & Administration
Large Plan Sponsors Define the Cutting Edge of DC
Asked what third parties are involved in the design of their organization’s workplace retirement plans, just more than half said “a financial adviser,” according to BlackRock’s latest Defined Contribution Pulse Survey. The survey data is comprised of polling results generated from large defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors. Fewer (36%) cited “an employee benefits consultant,” while three in 10 pointed to a third-party administrator (TPA). This last stat is particularly interesting, given that these are responses coming from large, well-established plans. The role of TPAs is commonly viewed as being more limited in this market segment, given that large plan sponsors are more likely to have their own dedicated administrative staff to manage and run the retirement plan. But as the BlackRock stats show, at least when it comes to plan design, TPAs continue to exert some significant influence. Read more >
Wisconsin-Based Diocese Closes Pension Plan
The Diocese of La Crosse announced it will end its pension plan for lay employees. All funds in the plan will be distributed as a one-time lump sum payment to eligible participants. A letter to employees from Bishop William Patrick Callahan notes that the pension plan was frozen in 2007 and replaced with a 403(b) defined contribution (DC) plan. The diocese continued to bill parishes and allocate funds from the Diocesan Annual Appeal to help make up for the shortfall in the underfunded pension, but the efforts weren’t enough to fully fund it. Read more >
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Products, Deals and People
Investment Products and Services Launches
Morningstar Grows Fund Ratings System with Quantitative Rating; First Trust Merges Two Funds; and Vanguard Changes Benchmarks for Funds. Read more >
Fidelity Launches Equity Compensation Planner
The planner is designed to help employees better understand their stock awards and more easily integrate these stock awards into their overall financial plans. Read more >
Economic Events

In the week ending March 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance was 231,000, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 210,000, the Labor Department reported. The four-week moving average was 222,500, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 220,500.

The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.46%, up from 4.43% one week ago, according to Freddie Mac. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.94%, up from 3.90%.

Market Mirror

Thursday, the Dow closed 93.85 points (0.38%) higher at 24,895.21, the NASDAQ increased 31.30 points (0.42%) to 7,427.95, and the S&P 500 was up 12.17 points (0.45%) at 2,738.97. The Russell 2000 was down 2.57 points (0.16%) at 1,571.96, and the Wilshire 5000 gained 118.49 points (0.42%) to finish at 28,404.20.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note was up 6/32, decreasing its yield to 2.863%. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond increased 12/32, bringing its yield down to 3.129%.

Compliance
Supreme Court Reiterates Stance on Retiree Health Benefits in CBAs
In a new lawsuit in which retirees claim the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) under which they retired promised them lifetime health benefits, the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed a decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the participants, and remanded the case back to the appellate court for further review based on the high court’s findings. The Supreme Court said the appellate court used the same inferences it rejected in a 2015 decision in M&G Polymers USA v. Tackett. Read more >
Pension Trustee Found Guilty of Theft
After an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division, has ordered a former pension benefit plan trustee to pay $234,271 in restitution and serve one year of probation for violating federal criminal statues pertaining to plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Read more >
Small Talk

ON THIS DATE: In 1820, Congress passed the Land Act that paved the way for westward expansion of North America. In 1822, Charles M. Graham received the first patent for artificial teeth. In 1862, during the U.S. Civil War, the ironclads Monitor and Virginia (built from the remnants of the USS Merrimack) fought to a draw in a five-hour battle at Hampton Roads, Virginia. In 1863, General Ulysses Grant was appointed commander-in-chief of the Union forces. In 1933, the U.S. Congress began its 100 days of enacting New Deal legislation. In 1945, during World War II, U.S. B-29 bombers launched incendiary bomb attacks against Japan. In 1954, WNBT-TV (now WNBC-TV), in New York, broadcast the first local color television commercials. The ad was Castro Decorators of New York City. In 1959, Mattel introduced Barbie at the annual Toy Fair in New York. In 1964, production began on the first Ford Mustang. In 1975, work began on the Alaskan oil pipeline. In 1989, in the U.S., a strike forced Eastern Airlines into bankruptcy. In 1990, Dr. Antonia Novello was sworn in as the first female and Hispanic surgeon general.

And now it’s time for FRIDAY FILES!

With her dance moves, this little girl should be the new team mascot. Read more >
The dangers of virtual reality devices. Read more >
African children hear the fiddle for the first time—and LOVE it! Read more >

In San Francisco, self-driving cars are causing road rage. The Los Angeles Times reports that a vehicle operated by General Motors’ Cruise driverless car division was waiting at a green light for pedestrians to cross when a shouting man ran across the street against the do-not-walk signal and struck its bumper and hatch, damaging a taillight. The car was in autonomous mode but a driver was behind the wheel. In a separate incident, another GM autonomous vehicle with a human driving had stopped behind a taxi when the taxi driver got out and slapped the front passenger-side window.

 

In Columbia, Maryland, a church used an unorthodox way to attract new members. The Washington Post reported that the church gave away the cars to increase attendance at its new location. It was the first Sunday at a building in a strip mall for the seven-year-old nondenominational church. Pastor Stephen Chandler said the predominantly African-American church normally draws up to 1,100 people. This week, the church gave away 2,250 tickets in advance of three services.

 

In New York City, Hunter College has filed a lawsuit against a 32-year-old woman, saying she owes more than $94,000 in unpaid residence hall fees since she dropped out in 2016. According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit says the woman was denied summer housing in 2016. She remained in her dorm, despite the school sending several notices that she would be charged $150 a day if she stayed. She was issued a 30-day eviction notice in September 2017, but refused to leave, prompting the school to file its lawsuit. The woman, a former geography major, says she plans to stay and fight the case.

 

In Gloucester County, New Jersey, a man unsuccessfully challenged a $1,635 Uber ride that he ordered while into.xicated. NJ.com reported that the man thought he was taking an Uber to where he was staying near the West Virginia University campus. When his driver woke him up two hours into the more than 300-mile journey to the man’s home in New Jersey, the man says he didn’t know what was happening or who the driver was.

 

Have a great weekend, everyone! And, don’t forget to “spring forward.”

Share the news with a friend! Pass the NewsDash along and tell your friends/associates they can sign up for their own copy. Read more >

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

Advertising: Paul Zampitella paul.zampitella@strategic-i.com

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