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DOL Delays Fiduciary Rule

On Monday, November 27, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that some key provisions of the fiduciary rule will be extended for 18 months. The fiduciary rule, in its most basic context, requires brokers and advisors to act in the best interests of their clients who have retirement accounts, including IRAs and rollovers from qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) and 403(b) plans.  The DOL first proposed the regulations in October 2010 but withdrew them in 2011 after opposition from the financial services industry as well as some members of Congress.  The regulations were reintroduced in 2015 with the final rule becoming effective June 7, 2016.  Compliance with the rules surrounding broker conduct and disclosure was delayed until April 10, 2017.  A transition period for compliance with some of the provisions was put in place from April 10, 2017 until January 1, 2018.  This latest delay will extend implementation of the enforcement provisions of the rule until July 1

HANYS Benefit Services' Carol A. Idone Receives Prestigious SPARK Advisor Award

Vice President, Client Relationship Management and Consulting, Honored for Leadership in "Plan Design & Administration Innovation" HANYS Benefit Services (HBS) is pleased to announce that Carol A. Idone, CFP®, AIF®, Vice President, Client Relationship Management and Consulting, is the recipient of the 2017 SPARK Advisor Award: Plan Design & Administration Innovation. 

7 Ways to Mitigate Retirement Plan Fiduciary Liabilities

1. Document all decisions— Appoint a secretary to take notes on all actions and decisions. 2. Hold retirement plan committee meetings regularly— Quarterly is the best practice; make sure your people get there and have a good attendance record. 3. Appoint qualified committee members— If you want to bring in people from different departments within the hospital to have them more involved in the retirement plan process, be sure that people are chosen who understand how the retirement plan and investments work. You also need to have an odd number of people on the committee to avoid votes that end in a tie.

Retirement Plan Administration Best Practices

Retirement plan sponsors have a difficult challenge: balancing the desire to offer a valued and valuable retirement plan to their employees, with the administrative and regulatory requirements and expense of maintaining the plan. Experts agree that plan sponsors can help address these issues by consistent adoption of plan administration and oversight best practices.These steps can lower costs, increase plan enrollment, boost savings rates, and better prepare employees for a more secure retirement, while helping mitigate the risk borne by plan fiduciaries.

Fiduciary Responsibilities: ERISA Standards of Conduct

Act solely in the interest of plan participants — This may seem obvious, but you cannot prioritize your board, president, or local community interests over the plan participants. Act prudently — The duty to act prudently requires expertise in areas such as investment. Lacking that expertise, a fiduciary should hire someone with that professional knowledge. Fiduciaries are responsible for a decision process, not investment results. The process used to make decisions must be documented to show fiduciaries acted prudently. 

Active vs. Passive Investing Styles: An Age Old Rivalry

Active vs. Passive investing styles is an age-old debate in the investing world. Investment managers on either side tend to be steadfast advocates of the merits of their approach. Active managers seek to exploit market inefficiencies by relying on analytical research, forecasts, and their own judgement and experience to decide which securities to buy, hold, and sell. Passive investing involves simply tracking an index to avoid the management fees and trading costs that can be a drag on performance by adhering to a buy-and-hold strategy. However, no one strategy always triumphs. It cannot be ignored that both investing strategies have positive attributes and have helped define the historical and current investing trends we have witnessed in the retirement marketplace.

11 Questions Employers Should Ask About Stable Value Funds

Stable value investments have been a core investment option in defined contribution retirement plans since the 1970s and are an attractive alternative to money market investments due to steady returns and principal preservation guarantees. Stable value funds have proven their worth to investors during the protracted period of low interest rates present since the recent financial crisis. Consider the following comparison of 2007-2016 calendar year total return for the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund (VMFXX) [i] to the HBS MetLife Stable Value Fund. 1.            What is a stable value fund? 

Q2 Retirement Market Recap - Stocks and Bonds Advance Again in the 2nd Quarter

As of June 30, 2017 U.S. equities advanced for the seventh consecutive quarter, with the S&P 500 Index gaining 3.09% in the second quarter and 9.34% year to date. With the economic expansion and the bull market for stocks both in their eighth year, it is understandable that many investors are nervous about a market correction. Equity prices are reflecting a very solid U.S. economy, operating at full potential and full employment. Most of the economic data followed by investors has been positive: surges in Leading Economic Indicators, and the Small Business Optimism Index; accelerating global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth forecast; rising housing starts; strong Purchasing Managers Indexes (manufacturing and service sectors), strong hiring, declining unemployment, record low weekly unemployment claims and high quit rate; low inflation; strong consumer data: growth in average hourly earnings/real disposable personal income, household balance sheets, savings rates, credit s

Q1 Market Recap - Yin and Yang

Last quarter we reported to you that investors turned decidedly bullish toward equities after the U.S. election. That trend continued in the first quarter of 2017, with the S&P 500 Index hitting an all-time high of 2395.96 on March 1, immediately following President Trump’s conciliatory speech to Congress. That represented a 12% advance in the Index from pre-election levels. The Index closed the quarter off the all-time high, at 2362.72, as investors re-evaluated the probability of President Trump and Congress’ ability to deliver on tax cuts and increased federal spending on infrastructure. The S&P 500 returned a very strong 6.07% in the first quarter—the sixth consecutive quarter of positive returns for the Index. In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate. The U.S. has entered a period where proposed policy or political risk

Webinar

Get Ready for Paid Family Leave Effective January 1, 2018, New York State Paid Family Leave Program will provide New Yorkers job-protected, paid leave. Working families will no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and risking their economic security. But how does this impact you as the employer? This webinar will cover the new regulations for the Paid Family Leave law and how to prepare for it including: which employers are covered, and employees are eligible for benefits;  the differences between Paid Family Leave (PFL), Disability Benefits Law (DBL) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and  what employers should do to get ready. Thursday, May 18 at 11:00 a.m. CLICK HERE to register PRESENTERS: Wesley Price Sales Account Executive Employee Benefits HANYS Benefit Services Wesley is responsible for assisting clients with health and welfare benefits, and any other area of human resource consulting. Before joining HBS in 2009, Wes worke

Webinar:

Pension Risk Transfer: Why Now? Healthcare finance executives are faced with many challenges. One such challenge is managing the inherent liability and cost associated with their Defined Benefit Pension Plan. This webinar will focus on pension risk transfer (PRT) strategies and why now may be the right time to implement them. Join this special webcast to learn: pension de-risking concerns and solutions;  what PRT steps are available now to plan sponsors; and  why plan sponsors should consider acting now to take advantage of these strategies.  CLICK HERE to register Wednesday, May 24 at 11:00 a.m. PRESENTERS : Peter Margiotta Vice President, Business Development HANYS Benefit Services Michael E. Devlin  Principal BCG Pension Risk Consultants

Is It Time to Refresh Your Voluntary Benefits?

by Wesley Price Voluntary benefits have been around for several decades. These are coverages and products made available to employees for elective purchase at the employee’s expense. Over the years, as the cost of health insurance has continued to increase, employers have shifted the portfolio of offerings from employer-paid to voluntary. As a result voluntary benefits has evolved from being limited to main core benefits like dental, vision, and life insurance to including accident insurance, disability and critical illness. Additionally, new benefits are emerging based on growing demand, such as pet insurance, fraud protection and legal services.

8 Questions Plan Sponsors Should Ask about 457(b) and 457(f) Plans

Background: 457(f) and 457(b) plans are non-qualified deferred compensation plans for eligible highly-compensated employees. A non-qualified plan is a type of tax-deferred, employer-sponsored retirement plan that is not subject to Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) guidelines. Non-governmental 457 plans are not required to file Form 5500 since they are not subject to ERISA, but they are required within 120 days of the plan’s existence to file a one-time notification (“top hat letter”) with the Department of Labor. These plans are exempt from the non-discrimination testing that is required for qualified plans. In 1986, Section 457 was added to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to specifically address the unique needs of the not-for-profit sector. The rules address governmental plans sponsored by state or local governments and non-governmental plans sponsored by tax-exempt organizations under Section 501(c). This frequently-asked question (FAQ) document will specifically a

2017 Retirement and Employee Benefits Compliance Calendar

HANYS Benefit Services wants to help you stay compliant with our  2017 Retirement and Employee Benefits Compliance Calendar . Compliance is just one of many services HBS provides, including Plan Design,Plan Provider Management, and Co-Fiduciary Services. If you have any questions regarding compliance requirements or their application to your plan, contact us at (800) 388-1963 or at  hbs@ hanys.org .

HANYS Benefit Services Named a PLANADVISER Top 100 Retirement Plan Adviser for the 2nd Year in a Row

PLANADVISER Magazine has named HANYS Benefit Services (d/b/a Strategic Benefit Services) as one of its 2017 Top 100 Retirement Plan Advisers . HANYS Benefit Services has been awarded in the categories for large teams with $4 billion or more in retirement plan assets under advisement, and large teams with 180 retirement plans or more under advisement. The PLANADVISER Top 100 Advisers is an annual list of the retirement plan advisers and adviser teams that stand out in terms of a series of increasingly stringent quantitative measures.

Remedial Amendment Period for §403(b) Plans

Sponsors of 403(b) plans, both those subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and non-ERISA plans, were required (with few exceptions) to have in place a written plan document by December 31, 2009. Sponsors who did so will be able to restate their plans to adopt one of the prototype plans or volume submitter plans when they become available. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Procedure 2013-22 in March 2013, which provided guidelines for issuing opinion and advisory letters for §403(b) prototype plans and volume submitter plans. The Revenue Procedure stated that a remedial amendment period would be available whereby eligible employers could retroactively correct defects in the form of written 403(b) plans. The Revenue Procedure defined a defect as a provision (or the absence of a required provision) that causes the plan to fail to satisfy the operational requirements of Section 403(b). Revenue Procedure 2013-22 stated that any such defect must be c

Key Retirement and Employee Benefits Compliance Reminders for February

Due February 28th Paper filing of Form 1099-R to IRS for distributions made in 2016. Section 6055 Reporting - Forms 1094-B and 1095-B. IRS information returns filed no later than February 28, 2017, or March 31, 2017 if filed electronically. Section 6056 Reporting - Forms 1094-C and 1095-C. IRS information returns filed no later than February 28, 2017, or March 31, 2017 if filed electronically. If you have any questions, or would like to begin talking to an advisor, please get in touch by calling (800) 388-1963 or email us at hbs@hanys.org.

Q4 Retirement Market Recap - Post Election Rally

The 2016 U.S. general election was an unusually dramatic event for investors, most of whom were expecting the Democrats to hold the White House. Investors reacted favorably to the election results, with the S&P 500 closing at a new record high on November 22, and continuing to advance through the end of the quarter. Read the Q4 Retirement Market Recap to learn more about the impact of the 2016 election. Also included is an update on litigation targeting non-profit retirement plans. If you have any questions, or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by calling (800) 388-1963 or email us at hbs@hanys.org.

Understanding Your Retirement Plan Fee Methodology

Understanding your retirement plan’s fees is not only a good practice; it’s a fiduciary requirement as prescribed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The traditional enforcement mechanism has been DOL plan audits. More recently, high-profile litigation has driven plan sponsors to evaluate their plan fees. These fees can be grouped into several categories: record keeping, administrative, legal, plan advisory, investment, and education and communication. The principal reason fees have been thrust into the limelight is that

The Popularity of Wellness Programs

The 2016 Employee Benefits survey helped call to attention the increasingly complex circumstances under which employee benefit plans are constructed. The popularity of wellness programs certainly shows a direct correlation between the health and welfare of employees and cost of their care. Most respondents said their organization offers a wellness program (74%), with the most popular methods including: flu shots; smoking cessation; and a health risk assessment. If wellness helps reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and other serious conditions, then the hope is that it will result in fewer medical claims. Download our  2016 Employee Benefits Survey Report  and the  Employee Benefit Survey Webinar Presentation Recording  to understand what these results mean to you as an employer, and what challenges and risks you may face when attempting to offer a competitive benefits package under the Affordable Care Act. If you have any questions, or would like