Newsdash Insight on Plan Design & Investment Strategy from PLANSPONSOR
November 9th, 2015
Benefits & Administration
Advice Can Make a Difference in Rocky Market
Unsurprisingly, given the market slumps of August, a record number of people sought guidance by phone and online in the third quarter, according to data from Fidelity. Fidelity managed more than 16 million online inquiries from IRA and 401(k) investors from August 23 to August 29. In a single day—Monday, August 24—Fidelity received over 160,000 phone calls from IRA and 401(k) investors, one of its busiest days on record. Customers wanted help on a range of topics: how to manage investments during periods of volatility, the pitfalls of converting to all cash and the possible reasons behind recent market drops.Read more >
The aggregate pension funded status for S&P 500 firms rose in October, from 78.7% to 80.8%, according to the Aon Hewitt Pension Risk Tracker. Year to date, the funded status deficit has increased by $3 billion.Read more >
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Products, Deals and People
Mercer Creates DC and Financial Wellness Business Unit
Mercer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies announced a number of leadership changes as well as the creation of a U.S. Defined Contribution (DC) & Financial Wellness business unit, which will be led by senior partner Tom Murphy.Read more >
Wellness Platform Offers Programs from Multiple Vendors
ShapeUp, a provider of global wellbeing solutions, has expanded its holistic offering to include products and programs from specialized partners that are fully integrated into its well-being platform, ShapeUp Select, a curated cohort of wellness providers. Employers and their employees can choose from an extensive menu to design a robust well-being strategy.Read more >
Financial Engines to Acquire Brick-and-Mortar Advisory
A robo-adviser has decided to scoop up a large national registered investment adviser (RIA) in order to deliver more in-person advice and holistic, relationship-based advising. Digital-advice firm Financial Engines will acquire a firmly established traditional advisory chain, The Mutual Fund Store.Read more >
Economic Events

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 271,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction.

THE ECONOMIC WEEK AHEAD: Tomorrow, the Census Bureau will report about wholesale inventories for September. Thursday, the Labor Department will issue its initial claims report. Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will reveal the producer price index (PPI) for October, and the Census Bureau will report about retail sales for October and business inventories for September.

Market Mirror

Friday, the Dow closed 46.90 points (0.26%) higher at 17,910.33, the NASDAQ gained 19.38 points (0.38%) to finish at 5,147.12, and the S&P 500 decreased by 0.73 (0.03%) to 2,099.20. The Russell 2000 was up 9.06 points (0.76%) at 1,199.74, and the Wilshire 5000 slipped 1.22 points (0.01%) to 21,865.24.

On the NYSE, 3.2 billion shares traded, with 1.6 declining issues for every advancing issue. On the NASDAQ, 2.7 billion shares changed hands, with a 1.7 to 1 ratio of advancers to decliners.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note decreased 25/32, bringing its yield up to 2.324%. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond fell 1 19/32, increasing its yield to 3.086%.

WEEK’S WORTH: For the week ending November 6, the Dow finished 1.40% higher, the NASDAQ gained 1.85%, and the S&P 500 was up 0.82%. The Russell 2000 climbed 3.26%, and the Wilshire 5000 increased 1.00%.

Compliance
Does the Intel Retirement Plans Case Have Merit?
Christopher M. Sulyma filed a lawsuit on behalf of two proposed classes of participants in the Intel 401(k) Savings Plan and the Intel Retirement Contribution Plan, claiming that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties by investing a significant portion of the plans’ assets in risky and high-cost hedge fund and private equity investments through custom-built target-date funds. The lawsuit says the Intel custom-built funds have underperformed peer funds by approximately 400 basis points annually. The lawsuit claims automatic enrollment and a reenrollment of existing participants resulted in more than two-thirds of participants being allocated to custom-built investments. It goes into great detail about why the plaintiffs believe hedge funds and private equity funds are inappropriate investments for Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) retirement plans. PLANSPONSOR reached out to Marcia Wagner, principle with Wagner Law Group in Boston, for comments about the case.Read more >
Small Talk
ON THIS DATE: In 1857, the “Atlantic Monthly” first appeared on newsstands. In 1965, the great Northeast blackout occurred as several states and parts of Canada were hit by a series of power failures lasting up to 13 1/2 hours. In 1984, a bronze statue titled “Three Servicemen,” by Frederick Hart, was unveiled at the site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 1989, Communist East Germany opened its borders, allowing its citizens to travel freely to West Germany. In 2004, U.S. First Lady Laura Bush officially reopened Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to pedestrians.
SURVEY SAYS RESULTS: Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “What development are you most anticipating for 2016, and what is your second choice?” Perhaps not surprisingly, the top trend, product, regulation or legal ruling most anticipated in 2016 by more responding readers than any other is the final Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary (or conflict-of-interest) rule (29%). This was followed by federal government seeking more revenue from retirement plan savings (15.8%), regulations about lifetime income illustrations on participant statements (13.2%) and more defined benefit (DB) plan sponsors transferring risk to insurance companies (10.5%). Three of those were also the top second choices of responding readers. Though verbatim responses were few, there was a great sense of disappointment with the government’s efforts in the retirement plan industry among them. Editor’s Choice goes to the fortunate reader who said: “What I’m most excited about for 2016 is – RETIREMENT!” A big thank you to all who responded to the survey!Read more >
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Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer alison.mintzer@strategic-i.com

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