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Top 10 Employee Benefits New Year’s Resolutions for 2017

January 11, 2017

Authors

Chris Rylands and Lisa Van Fleet

Top 10 Employee Benefits New Year’s Resolutions for 2017

January 11, 2017

by: Chris Rylands and Lisa Van Fleet

new-years-resolutionsIf statistics are any guide, by now a significant number of you have already broken your New Year’s resolutions.  However, there’s still plenty of time to make new ones that you can break, er, keep.  If you sponsor or work with an employee benefit plan (and odds are, if you’re reading this, that you do), then here are some ideas to keep in mind in the upcoming year:

  • Fiduciary, Know Thyself. It important to know your fiduciaries (or know if you are one). Reviewing plan documents, charters, and delegations, among other possible documents, are key to determining who is an ERISA fiduciary. You should make sure that any individuals who have been designated are still willing and able to serve and, if not, they should be removed. While not as much of an
    Read More
  • What a Diff’rence Two Months Makes

    March 24, 2015

    Authors

    Hal Morgan and Chris Rylands

    What a Diff’rence Two Months Makes

    March 24, 2015

    by: Hal Morgan and Chris Rylands

    CalendarIn a rule published on March 19, 2015, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) indicated that a year can last 14 months, at least when it comes to the disclosure of fees, expenses and other investment-related information by participant-directed individual account plans, such as 401(k) plans.  That rule is based on comments (complaints?) about the requirement under the applicable regulations to provide that information to participants “at least annually.”  The DOL initially defined that phrase in the regulations so as to require disclosure of investment-related information at least once every 12 months, and subsequently indicated that each disclosure had to be furnished within 365 days of the prior disclosure.  The DOL originally took that rather rigid position to prevent inconsistencies,

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    DOL Proposes Roadmap for Fiduciary Fee Disclosures

    March 31, 2014

    Authors

    benefitsbclp

    DOL Proposes Roadmap for Fiduciary Fee Disclosures

    March 31, 2014

    by: benefitsbclp

    Earlier this month, the Department of Labor published a proposed amendment to its February 2012 final regulations regarding the disclosures concerning services and fees that service providers must furnish to plan fiduciaries to permit the fiduciaries to determine that the contracts or arrangements with the service providers were “reasonable” as required by ERISA Section 408(b)(2).  Under the amendment, service providers would be required to furnish plan fiduciaries with a “guide” to the fee disclosures required under ERISA Section 408(b)(2) in certain circumstances.

    The 2012 final regulations (which generally became effective July 1, 2012) did not require service providers to provide the disclosures in any particular format.  Moreover, the preamble to the regulations acknowledged that the disclosures could be made in multiple documents so long as the documents collectively disclosed all of the information required.

    The proposed amendment is intended to introduce a guide to assist fiduciaries

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    Upgrade Your Retirement Plan Governance in 2014

    December 26, 2013

    Authors

    benefitsbclp

    Upgrade Your Retirement Plan Governance in 2014

    December 26, 2013

    by: benefitsbclp

    Both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) are intent on making certain that retirement plans focus on best practices and good plan governance.  The expectation of these agencies is that the interests of participants will be better protected if plans operate at a high level.  Of course, having good plan governance and operating with best practices also limits the liability of plan fiduciaries, so they have an interest in good plan governance as well.

    The DOL has been suggesting with some frequency that plans should engage in fiduciary training.  At this time, there is no legal mandate for fiduciary training.  Many plan fiduciaries are plan sponsor owners and/or employees.  These people, meaning well, have typically not been educated about the complex fiduciary duty rules of ERISA.  Plan administrative committees should make it part of their usual meeting routine to have

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    Lessons to be Learned From a Flawed 401(k) Fee Study (Part 2)

    August 5, 2013

    Authors

    benefitsbclp

    Lessons to be Learned From a Flawed 401(k) Fee Study (Part 2)

    August 5, 2013

    by: benefitsbclp

    In our prior post, we detailed some significant deficiencies in the study that Yale Law School Professor Ayers is planning to release and the far less threatening Yale official response.  But what steps, if any, should plan administrators take now to mitigate exposure, even if wrongly asserted, that might result from a breach of fiduciary duty action?  And what kind of opportunity does this present for other 401(k) sponsors who are not included in the study?  Recognizing that most 401(k) plan fiduciaries must determine, through proper prudence and process, that plan expenses are reasonable in view of the services provided to participants and that those services are necessary for the proper operation of the plan and in the best interests of the participants, now is a good time to revisit “reasonable and necessary.”

    Many of our clients’ plan administrative committees avail themselves of the services of

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    Lessons to be Learned From a Flawed 401(k) Fee Study (Part 1)

    August 1, 2013

    Authors

    benefitsbclp

    Lessons to be Learned From a Flawed 401(k) Fee Study (Part 1)

    August 1, 2013

    by: benefitsbclp

    Typically, academics do research and then write about their findings and conclusions.  However, as has been reported elsewhere, Professor Ian Ayers, the William K. Townsend Professor at Yale Law School, decided to take his findings and conclusions a step further.  He sent a letter to some 6,000 401(k) plan sponsors essentially accusing them of potentially violating ERISA fiduciary duties.   He then went even further and threatened to publicize their identities and advised them that he would assign each of the 6,000 of them with their own hashtag on Twitter when he publicized his study next year in periodicals including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.  His threats  have been garnering substantial attention in the popular press.  Needless to say, Professor Ayers has created quite an uproar in the 401(k) plan advisor and consultant communities.  You can read a redacted copy of the letter

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    Hit the Reset Button: Complying with Annual Investment Fee Disclosures

    July 25, 2013

    Authors

    benefitsbclp

    Hit the Reset Button: Complying with Annual Investment Fee Disclosures

    July 25, 2013

    by: benefitsbclp

    Regulations under ERISA Section 404(a) require plan administrators to disclose to plan participants and beneficiaries certain fee and investment performance information about each designated investment alternative made available under a participant-directed defined contribution plan.  For calendar year plans, this information, which includes a comparative chart of all investment alternatives,  was initially required to be provided to participants and beneficiaries no later than August 30, 2012.  In addition, the regulations require that such information also be provided “annually” ( defined to mean at least once in any 12-month period, regardless of whether the plan operates on a calendar year or fiscal year basis).

    Re-set Option Offered by Department of Labor

    Many plans send required notifications closer to the end of the plan year.  Acknowledging this practice and concerns raised over the cost of a separate distribution covering just this investment information, the Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”) issued Read More

    When the Government Speaks: DoL Regulatory Initiatives

    February 14, 2013

    Authors

    Chris Rylands and Lisa Van Fleet

    When the Government Speaks: DoL Regulatory Initiatives

    February 14, 2013

    by: Chris Rylands and Lisa Van Fleet

    Last week I (Chris) had the good fortune to travel on Lisa’s behalf to Baltimore to attend an annual meeting of benefits practitioners with government representatives from the DoL and IRS national offices.  It served as a great opportunity to hear what guidance may be in the pipeline and what enforcement issues are catching the government’s attention.  Plan sponsors should take heed because those items getting the government’s regulatory or enforcement attention tend to (1) be very common and (2) serve as a good compliance check.  Over the next week or so, we’ll cover what they said and what you should be looking for coming down the pike.  First up: the Department of Labor’s regulatory agenda.  Based on statements from DoL officials:

    • No additional guidance is planned on the ERISA 408(b)(2) service provider fee disclosures at this time.  They talked with many service
      Read More

    News & Notes – December 7, 2012

    December 7, 2012

    Authors

    Chris Rylands

    News & Notes – December 7, 2012

    December 7, 2012

    by: Chris Rylands

    Below is our most recent list of News & Notes from the week that was.  Let us know what you think.  Should we continue this feature?

    • Continuing with our unplanned New York theme, the New York Times recently reported how some non-traditional medical practitioners were lobbying to be included as “essential health benefits” under health care reform.  Is acupuncture essential?
    • Going completely to the other coast, CBS Los Angeles reported that LA County officials were scrambling to retain “paying patients” ahead of 2014.

    News & Notes – November 9, 2012

    November 9, 2012

    Authors

    Chris Rylands

    News & Notes – November 9, 2012

    November 9, 2012

    by: Chris Rylands

    As a new feature here on benefitsbclp.com, we are going to regularly share some recent benefits-related(ish) stories and other links.

    • Get out your flotation devices because Politico is predicting a post-election flood of health care reform guidance.
    • Several states had PPACA measures on the ballot.  You can check out this list of the measures, and how they fared on election night.
    • Speaking of health care and elections, this Washington Post article says many employees are overwhelmed by open enrollment.
    • And just when you thought we were done
      Read More
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