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Plan Resources



Retirement Savings Plan Education - Q2 2019

with hunter nighbert


Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

September 2019

Index Funds - Looking Beyond Fees 

The flow to passive management is one of the biggest talking points of the decade. With this shift came the daunting task, and responsibility, to better evaluate the abundance of index funds offered by the marketplace. Index funds seek to replicate the performance of a benchmark, making the idea of comparing returns appear counter-intuitive.

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Participant Memo

September 2019


Borrowing Against Your Retirement: More Costly Than You Think

Participating in the company's retirement plan is a smart and important decision. Smart because you are putting away small amounts today for a comfortable retirement later. 

As your account begins to grow, it may be tempting to “dip into” your retirement savings by taking a loan against your retirement plan to pay your annual taxes, repair a leaking roof, catch up your everyday pile of bills, and so on. And while the decision to take a plan loan is yours to make, we want to make sure that you consider what it will really cost.

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Education Flyer

september 2019

Understanding Market Volatility

Some investors try to “time” the market, or buy and sell based on their guess about what the market will do next. By doing so, they often miss out on the best days. The graph below shows the difference between investors who stayed in the market during volatile periods with those who only briefly left, but missed some of the market’s best upswings.

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Education Flyer

august 2019

Rebalancing Your Portfolio: Staying Consistent with Your Investment Goals

As a participant in your company’s retirement plan, you are already serious about saving for your future. Whether you are retiring in a few weeks or a few decades, you may need to protect your investment. A healthy way to do this is to rebalance your portfolio

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

AUGUST 2019

Four Reasons to Integrate Health Savings Into Your Retirement Plan

As Americans look into the future and towards retirement, many understand that maintaining their health will be an important part of their overall quality of life after they stop working. However, uncertainty around healthcare costs – both now and in retirement – is a major financial worry among Americans preparing for retirement. So how can you help your workers reduce financial anxiety about retirement preparedness and increase the likelihood that they will be able to meet their healthcare costs in retirement?

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Participant Memo

AUGUST 2019


What's an HSA and is it Right for You?

Health savings accounts (HSAs) have grown tremendously in popularity over the past few years. You’ve probably heard of them or maybe your employer offers one. This memo will uncover answers to common questions you may have about HSAs.

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Education Flyer

july 2019

The Real Cost of Coffee & Lunch: How Much Could You Save?

Saving for retirement isn’t easy. However, what you may not realize is that by making small adjustments you can save a substantial amount that can be added to your retirement plan.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

july 2019

Summer Homework For Fiduciaries

As you bask in the glory of summer over the next couple of months, don’t forget the three Fs that define this cherished season — fun, Fourth of July, and fiduciary! While you’re enjoying the fruits of summer, don’t forget your fiduciary responsibilities! Ask yourself the following questions to make sure you are on top of your responsibilities and liabilities.

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Participant Memo

july 2019


Summer Homework

We know you’re ready for summer! But, how’s your retirement plan doing?


Summer can serve as a preview of your retirement — long days in the sun and spending time with your loved ones! So, what better time to do a routine check-up on your retirement plan! Protect your loved ones and ensure you are keeping up to date with your retirement plan with our summer homework assignments!

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

june 2019

Millennials Know It All. But, Are They Saving For Retirement

Millennials – they’ve infiltrated the workplace and bring expertise in social media, individuality, technology and hipster bars. But, what do they know about saving for retirement? Typically, younger people don’t make retirement savings a priority. Living expenses, student debt, rent or house payments, and other day-to-day expenses mean that retirement savings take a back seat. In fact, a Franklin Templeton Investments survey from January 2016 says that 40 percent of millennials don’t have a retirement plan in place, and 57 percent haven’t started saving.1 That attitude, however, will make it much more difficult to have a secure retirement later, according to seasoned retirement plan advisors.

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Participant Memo

june 2019


Rolling Into Your New Employer's Plan vs. An IRA

Typically, younger people don’t make retirement savings a priority. Living expenses, student debt, rent or house payments, and other day-to-day expenses mean that retirement savings take a back seat. In fact, a survey from January 2016 says that 40 percent of millennials don’t have a retirement plan in place, and 57 percent haven’t started saving.1 That attitude, however, will make it much more difficult to have a secure retirement later, according to seasoned retirement plan advisors.

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Education Flyer

June 2019

Retirement Plan Loans: To Borrow or Not to Borrow?

Although you may have the ability to borrow money from your retirement plan in the form of a loan, please proceed with caution! If you borrow from your retirement account, you may end up causing harm to your financial futures.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

may 2019


Four Ways to Increase Employee Retirement Contributions

As a retirement plan sponsor, you want your employees to save the most they can in order to reach their maximum retirement potential. A significant amount of research says that you can improve both employee participation and their saving rates. Here are four ways you can help your employees start building a confident retirement:

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Participant Memo

May 2019


Rolling Into Your New Employer's Plan vs. An IRA

Do you have retirement plan assets with a former employer’s plan that you’re not sure what to do with? Review the pros and cons of consolidating into your current employer’s retirement plan versus an individual retirement account (IRA).

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

april 2019


Ten Reasons to Roll Over Into Your Plan Versus an IRA

Do you have employees in a prior employer’s retirement plan? Should they transfer these assets to a personal IRA or into your employer-sponsored retirement plan? 

Review the pros and cons of an individual retirement account (IRA) versus consolidating into the current retirement plan with your employees to help them make this decision.

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Participant Memo

april 2019


Tax Savers Credit Reminder

You may be eligible for a valuable incentive, which could reduce your federal income tax liability, for contributing to your company’s 401(k) or 403(b) plan. If you qualify, you may receive a Tax Saver’s Credit of up to $1,000 ($2,000 for married couples filing jointly) if you made eligible contributions to an employer sponsored retirement savings plan. The deduction is claimed in the form of a non-refundable tax credit, ranging from 10% to 50% of your annual contribution.

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Retirement Goal Setting - Q1 2019

WITH HUNTER NIGHBERT


Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

March 2019


Department of Labor Issues Relief Guidance for Victims of California Wildfires

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued benefit plan guidance and relief for plans and participants affected by the 2018 California Wildfires.  The DOL recognizes that plan sponsors and participants may be affected in their ability to achieve compliance with various regulatory requirements.  The guidance generally applies to all parties involved in employee benefit plans located in areas identified by FEMA as disaster areas, listed here:  www.fema.gov/disasters. 

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

February 2019


Repay Student Loans or Save in a Retirement Plan? Why Not Both?

Many employees feel squeezed to both pay off their debt and save for their future. A recent Private Letter Ruling (PLR) opens the door for employers to help them.
The average student graduating in 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt.¹ According to the New York Federal Reserve, more than two million student loan borrowers have student loan debt greater than $100,000, with approximately 415,000 of them carrying student loan debt in excess of $200,000.

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Participant Memo

February 2019


Don't Let Student Loan Debt Get In Your Way of Financial Success

If you find yourself in a position of not being able to pay off your student loan debt and save for your future, you’re not alone. According to the New York Federal Reserve, more than two million student loan borrowers have student loan debt greater than $100,000, with approximately 415,000 of them carrying student loan debt in excess of $200,000.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

january 2019


Six Easy Steps to Keep Your Plan Assets Safe

Cyber fraud is a growing concern globally. Individuals are typically very careful to keep their bank account and email authentication information safe, but they aren’t always smart with the rest of their personal information. 

Participants need to be vigilant with their retirement savings accounts as well. In the past year we’ve seen a slew of cases of attempted fraud – some successful – against retirement savings plan participants across a multitude of recordkeepers. The good news is that virtually all recordkeepers view security as a prominent priority and diligently update their technology. However, their security can only go so far if the participant isn’t being equally vigilant.

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Participant Memo

January 2019


Keep Your Plan Assets Safe

You work hard for your money. You wisely choose to defer a portion of your salary for your interests in your retirement years. The plan is designed to help you grow your savings to an appropriate amount of money to support you once you reach your retirement years. 

But as you are aware, the plan is only as effective as you make it. If you defer too little, or make unwise investment decisions there is a chance that you will not reach your goals. Similarly, if you drain your plan balance over the years, you understand you will find a shortfall in retirement. What many participants do not think about is being responsible for the security of their savings as well.

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Participant Memo

december 2018


Holiday Ballin' on a Budget

The holidays are a time for giving, but often people can be a little overgenerous during this time of year and later find themselves in financial trouble. Consumer counseling agencies see a 25 percent increase in the number of people seeking help in January and February, mostly by people suffering from an influx of holiday bills.¹ 

Here are our top tips for saving money during the holiday season:

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

november 2018


HOW AND WHEN TO PAY PLAN EXPENSES WITH PLAN ASSETS

Some retirement plan expenses can be paid for with plan assets — but many can’t. Which are the “reasonable and necessary” retirement plan expenses that can be paid out of plan assets?

Generally, services required to maintain the plan’s compliance and administration can be paid from plan assets. Obvious examples include the annual nondiscrimination testing and preparation of the annual Form 5500. Another example is a plan amendment or restatement that is required because a legislative change.

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Participant Memo

november 2018


Tips to Weather a Turbulent Market

With the recent market volatility, it’s understandable that you may be concerned about your investments. Volatile markets can make you wonder if you’re on track to meet your retirement goals. Don’t be discouraged and most of all, don’t panic. Instead, be proactive! Consider the following steps you should be taking in both up and down markets:

  • Review Your Portfolio. Know your investment mix and be sure you are invested in the appropriate asset classes (based on your risk tolerance and time horizon to retirement). Times like these reinforce the need to diversify (while diversification does not guarantee against loss of principal, it can help spread your risk among different asset classes and market segments).

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

October 2018


HOW DO YOU MONITOR A DASH? EVALUATING CASH EQUIVALENT FUNDS

As you read your plan’s lineup, you see the following scores:

Periodically you review your plan’s fund lineup; you place some funds on Watchlist, you replace under-performers and you continue to monitor those funds that score acceptably. But, you see a dash next to your cash fund and wonder, what should you do? Traditional evaluation metrics can be difficult to apply to cash funds. You can look at returns, but without an appropriate benchmark or a way to directly measure the risk taken by the fund, the market value performance number can be difficult to interpret. Perhaps fees can provide the answer, but there are wrap fees, investment management fees and trustee fees, all assuming there is a stated fee to review in the first place. What is a fiduciary to do?

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Participant Memo

October 2018


Skip the Line, But Don’t Skip the Match!

October's Participant Memo is a flyer encouraging participants to not leave any retirement money on the table by not meeting the employer's match. 

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

september 2018


USE PLAN ANALYTICS TO EVALUATE YOUR RETIREMENT PLAN

Your retirement plan is a valuable resource for your employees and serves as a vehicle to attract and retain top talent. Ensuring plan success is crucial. Examining plan analytics can help evaluate its success. Plan analytics you should explore:

 • Median age, tenure and savings rates of plan participants 

   These analytics can be helpful to determine which age groups are not strongly participating and may be encouraged to do so via on-site               meetings, focused mailings and other communication and education.

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Participant Memo

August 2018


Is it Time for a Retirement Plan Check-Up?

It’s important to conduct regular check-ups on your retirement plan to make sure you are on track to reach your retirement goals. Below are a few questions to ask yourself, at least annually, to see if (and how) they affect your retirement planning. 

1. Review the Past Year

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

August 2018


COLLECTIVE INVESTMENT TRUSTS — THE FASTEST GROWING INVESTMENT VEHICLE WITHIN 401(K) PLANS

For almost a century, collective investment trusts (CITs) have played an important role in the markets. They were originally introduced in 1927. A 2016 study showed that they are the fastest growing investment vehicle within 401(k) plans, with 62 percent of asset managers believing their clients will shift from mutual funds to CITs.¹
Investopedia defines collective investments trusts as a fund that is “operated by a bank or trust company and handles a group of pooled trust accounts.” The CITs “group assets from individuals and organizations to develop a larger, diversified portfolio.”2 They differ from mutual funds in that they are comprised of pooled trusts not pooled securites.

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Participant Memo

July 2018


Good Health is the Best Wealth

Believe it or not, staying healthy just might make you wealthy. With small lifestyle changes and healthy choices, you may reduce your annual healthcare costs and increase your income. These lifestyle changes can be as simple as limiting your salt intake or taking your prescribed medication regularly.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

July 2018


Exchange Your Old Retirement Solutions for New Ones

An exchange is a turnkey solution for businesses that allows you to provide the benefit of a retirement plan while offloading much of the administrative and fiduciary responsibilities at a potential cost reduction. A team of professionals work together on your behalf so you can focus on running your business, not your retirement plan.

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Participant Memo

JUNE 2018


Save Early, Reach Your Goal

Contributing to your employer’s retirement plan as soon as you’re eligible is crucial to meeting your retirement goals. The earlier you start saving, the more time compounding interest has to work on your behalf. Putting off contributions today means increased contributions to reach the same goals tomorrow

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

JUNe 2018


Are You prepared for an IRS Audit?

The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’s) Employee Benefit Audit Program is used to audit and enforce. The IRS’s emphasis, with respect to defined contribution plans is on compliance with the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code), the plan’s tax qualification and administration of all plan documents. In the event of noncompliance with regulations, the IRS can impose taxes, penalties and interest. Most IRS audits are selected at random, but certain audit triggers exist that plan sponsors should be aware of. If the IRS suspects noncompliance, the chances of an audit will increase substantially. Answers to certain questions on the Form 5500 may also trigger an audit.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

may 2018


Have You Conducted A Fee Equalization / Levelization?

Fees in defined contribution (DC) plans can be complicated. Historically, fees have not been fully and simply disclosed, but the industry is changing towards greater and more understandable disclosure. Simply put, there are two basic types of fees: administrative and investment-related. The investment-related fees are deducted from earnings on participant accounts and will vary from one investment to the next. These fees are paid to the firms that are making decisions about how the various funds are invested in the market. Participants will pay different investment-related fees, as the fees are based on where the participant chooses to invest their assets.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

april 2018


What Happens When You Deposit Employee Deferrals Late?

In our research, late deposit of contributions is a frequent error made by plan sponsors and is a key priority of the Department of Labor (DOL). In our experience, during every plan audit conducted by the DOL, the investigator looks to see if contributions have been deposited in a timely manner. A number of years ago, the DOL revised the instructions to Form 5500 requiring plan auditors to review and confirm that contributions are made in a timely manner. For this reason, it is unlikely that late deposit of contributions will go undetected in the case of plans subject to the audit requirement.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

march 2018


The Explosion of Bitcoin

From Wall Street Journal articles and editorials in Barron’s, to Facebook posts and holiday dinner conversations, Bitcoin is everywhere. This is not surprising when you consider Bitcoin’s exponential growth in 2017. In a year where the market saw new highs, one of the top performing mutual funds returned 105.73 percent¹, and a top performing stock in the S&P 500 saw 132.3 percent growth (NGR)², Bitcoin’s growth made these all pale in comparison. (S&P 500 Index is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot directly invest in the index.) Up 1,390.0 percent in 2017³, we feel that Bitcoin’s performance and proliferation is unquestionable.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

february 2018


IRS Retirement Plan Announcements For The Recent Hurricanes and California Wildfires

Recently, many individuals have been significantly impacted by hurricanes and California wildfires. Through several announcements the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided relief for qualified individuals in retirement plans. In addition, President Trump signed the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 (“Act”), which provides tax relief for individuals affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (“HIM”). Below is a summary of the recent communications, including new information from a recent IRS Announcement for Hurricane Maria and the California Wildfires, election forms, and other resources to help you take the appropriate next step for your plan.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

November 2017


When we think of employee benefits in today’s traditional landscape, we don’t typically include wellness within that core definition. Instead, wellness is often considered a standalone strategy. But this can be a disastrous scenario, considering how employee benefits and well-being go hand in hand. Most employees think of the two as the same and expect well-being initiatives to be included in their workday through fitness trackers, standing desks, flex time, healthy food options, etc.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

October 2017


The number of notices and disclosures required to retirement plan participants has increased while methods to access information changed drastically. Many people receive their news and information on electronic devices through apps and social media. What remains the same is the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) guidance about permissible methods to provide notices electronically. There is a disconnect between how people are accustomed to receiving information (electronically) and what is permissible under ERISA.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

September 2017


Globalization of the world economy has increased exposure to international investments, yet equity portfolios in general remain largely home biased today. This may be a good time for participants to reevaluate their asset allocation to see if they may be exhibiting a home country bias— or displaying overly optimistic expectations about the domestic market and/or pessimism about foreign markets.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

August 2017


If you have ever opened a brokerage account with an advisor, you know the first step is gathering information to determine the risk profile and appropriate investment allocation for the individual. In order to determine the appropriate allocation for a client, financial advisors will inquire about income level, savings rate, net worth, time horizon, spending needs, investment knowledge and most importantly risk tolerance. Based on this information the advisor will recommend a tailored allocation to help individuals reach their objectives while maintaining an appropriate risk level to help ensure clients remain invested through market downturns.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

July 2017

Time is a powerful modifier of perception and purpose. No need to look any further than the frequent rumblings surrounding fixed income in the current rising interest rate environment. That isn’t to say the frequently touted “bond bubble” and rising interest rate topics are unimportant or overstated, it’s merely a reaction to the volume and misappropriation of focus often exhibited in these ongoing conversations. Monitoring the trajectory of rising interest rates is a good idea, however letting it affect the way you invest in fixed income may not prove additive in the long term.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

June 2017


We are now in the eighth year of an equity bull market, making this the second-longest upswing in American history.¹ Additionally, the bond market has been in a secular bull market since 1982 as rates on the 10-year treasury fell steadily from above 14 percent to below 2 percent last year.² The recent strong returns we have experienced may be difficult to sustain due to equity valuations, near-record corporate profit margins, and low interest rates. This is not to say we are in a bubble or an imminent bear market looms, however now may be a good time to reset long-term investment return expectations for participants. In fact, California’s state public pension system, Calpers, recently lowered their expectations for long-term investment returns from 7.5 percent to 7 percent.³ Even those reduced projections may prove optimistic.

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Retirement Times: News and Updates for Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries

MAY 2017


The term “alternative investments” may conjure images of classic automobiles, fine wine, rare art and valuable jewels. Some may think about the Honus Wagner baseball card that sold for $3.12 million at auction in 2016. Or about the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that sold at auction for a whopping $34.65 million in 2014. Or maybe they set their sights even higher and think about the Hope Diamond, with an estimated value of $200-$250 million.

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Higher Education Litigation Update

May 2017


In the past few weeks, lawsuits were launched against twelve higher education institutions: Yale, NYU, Emory, MIT, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, Duke, Cornell, Columbia, Northwestern, and University of Southern California. The law firm of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton filed 11 of the 12 putative class action suits, claiming breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) for providing a substandard plan model that allowed the plan participants to incur excessive fees.

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