BCG Blog

Maggie Juliano, Esq.
Recently, the IRS issued guidance on implementing section 348 (cash balance accounts). This guidance may hint at potential regulatory flexibility towards plan testing. Similarly, section 304 (automatic cash out of small accounts) could lead to flexibility in plan audits for small plans.
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As corporate governance business processes become part of plan litigation, and because benefits may be an area ripe for budget trimming, management of employee benefits policies is attracting more attention. Caution is due in this area as AI systems create their own risks.
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Has the agency tasked with enforcing ERISA performed on the prediction of increased enforcement action under in the Biden Administration or did it focus on new regulations instead? We compared the first year of the new administration to last year to find out.
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One aspect of active listening that advisors may want to consider involves asking confirming questions. Yet, some business experts suggest avoiding the most common of those confirming questions: “Have I answered all of your questions today?” Here’s what advisors can do to think of how to adopt this phrase in their client communications.
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2023 ranks among the highest for number of lawsuits against plan administrators in the last decade or so, and 2022 had nearly 100 such suits. One reason for the spike is the 2021 Supreme Court ruling in Hughes v. Northwestern. This summer, the lower court ruled on the Hughes case, and its findings further muddied the waters on recordkeeping fees.
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Last Fall, we noted several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that could impact the power federal agencies have to regulate and prosecute plan sponsors. Many of those cases are now working their way through the Court and may have profound impact on agencies such as FINRA, the SEC and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. They may also impact the Department of Labor and its investigative wing, the EBSA.
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Two recent studies released in January of 2024 point in opposite directions: one indicates that inflation may be slowing down quieting consumer concerns, others say inflation is still top of mind for most workers. What gives? It may be where investors live. For advisors struggling with determining how to manage inflation’s impact on their clients, digging into these studies may help.
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Three major supreme court opinions may be coming soon that could have significant implications for financial advisors and they may not be the ones you’ve heard about. These cases may be more significant: they may reduce the ability of agency regulators to oversee, investigate, and fine financial advisors and institutions by changing a long-held rule deferring to federal agencies in their decisions.
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If you are searching for answers to this knowledge gap, don’t look to advisors. Results from a study released by the Harris Poll in August 2023 showed that advisors are twice as likely (80% to 40%) to include annuities as asset protection and diversification tools over EFTs. What’s the holdup?
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As 2023 ends, it may be that luxury brands are showing a lapse in both profit as well as sway on consumers. For financial advisors who look to track luxury brands in their marketing and advertising approaches, this could be an important trend to track. And it isn’t all negative.
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If you think inflation is last year’s news, you may be out of step with employees. COLA increases by SSA and inflation adjustments by the IRS to retirement accounts show that inflation is still running rough on employees’ savings. And now two new studies show investors are very concerned about inflation’s impact on both the date and amount of their retirement.
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Employees may be chafing from feeling forced towards action in other areas of their life that seems to be morality-based or “woke.” Will that discomfort translate into unhappiness with the actions of plan sponsors to encourage retirement readiness? Sponsors may have some options for how to continue incentivizing employees to enroll in retirement plans.
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Events outside of the United States have been on everyone’s hearts and minds this fall. Plan sponsors may be concerned for their own families and loved ones, and also for their plan participants who have retired overseas. Nine million Americans live abroad, according to the State Department. Those living abroad may have two concerns when it comes to their retirement funds: bank account access and email.
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If you’ve been following financial writers on other platforms for topics to cover in employee education sessions, it’s worth your time to consider what Substack writers have to offer. And, if you recommend accounts on your employee education pages, adding other sources with in-depth information may increase your employees’ knowledge base. We’ve picked a few we enjoy.
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The IRS’s new details on how it will increase its hiring shows a potential for increased scrutiny and potential audits for 401(k) plans and investors with complex wealth basis.
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For many professionals, the end of the year means nailing down the details of key business plans, like your marketing and communications plans. That is why we’ve scheduled this series on how to construct and format your communications calendar to right when you may need it.
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These days, artificial Intelligence is top of mind for almost any professional. Financial advisors are no exception. They have often had to justify how their work can’t be replaced by that of a robot. First, were robo-indexes. Then the algorithms. And now, artificial intelligence, specifically ChatGPT. But good news humans! AI makes for a terrible financial advisor. Here’s what you should know.
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Communications plans can seem overwhelming but when they are done well, they help you measure and monitor important details, increasing prospect pools and warming up your leads. Here are a few things to think about when building a communications plan for your marketing efforts.
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As Quarter 4 draws near, Plan Sponsors may be wondering how they can help employees capture the end of the year energy to plan for retirement. One of our new favorite ways is to combine a well-known method with a newer system: track and stack. Tracking habits and progress towards goals is a method known to help motivate employees towards goals. But habit stacking is a new method that is stirring up a lot of interest for its impact.
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A handful of cases slated to be heard by the Supreme Court this Fall could be important for Plan Sponsors. Here’s what to know.
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On an individual level, communication overload can be a serious problem in terms of employee productivity and job satisfaction. On an enterprise level, communication can have serious compliance repercussions. Generic tips for using to-do lists and AI to sort your inbox don’t fully address the problem and its impact on decision-making.
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If the launch of a new platform rattles your marketing department, it may be because your firm’s communications plan is based too much on responding and less on a clear executable strategy. Through a series of articles, we make it easy to streamline your communications and content creation so that you can capture more leads and have a smoother pipeline of prospective clients.
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As an update to our June 2023 article on auto-enrolling employees in emergency savings accounts, we thought it might be worthwhile to highlight that the DOL is specifically requesting comment on the reporting requirements concerning Emergency Savings Accounts and detail the two questions on which the DOL seeks comment.
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New research shows that over half of all plan participants can’t pass a basic retirement education quiz. But where to start? Here are a few suggestions of where to begin with a plan participant education program.
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Deliberating over de minimis incentives to boost participation in 401(k) and 403(b) plans? We discuss the details of the new provision in this article about Section 113 of the Secure 2.0 Act.
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It’s not an epiphany that employee benefits are a significant tool in recruiting and retaining employees. How can you be sure you’ve got the right end game in sight? Before you go singing “it’s me, Hi, I’m the problem,” you may want to consider two basics of leadership communications.
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Your content may be perfect, but if it isn’t organized to flow well with how readers consume information, it might as well be a smoke signal. Here’s how improving scannability can help financial advisors win more warm leads.
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All eyes may be on clarifying the Secure Act 2.0, but other legislative changes could keep advisors on their toes. Especially if the Supreme Court challenges administrative agency authority. Here’s what to consider.
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Plan sponsors are increasingly offering financial literacy programs for their participants, including educating participants on their rights and the roles of consumer agencies. A new effort by the CFPB may cause confusion among participants seeking consumer loans. The history and impact of predatory lending may predict positive and negative impacts of the new policy.
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The balancing act most plan sponsors engage in to expand benefits, minimize costs, and remain within regulatory rules can feel like walking a tightrope. Over the last year, we’ve been looking at aspects of auto-enrolling employees in programs. Here, we look at the concerns around compliance.
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In the tsunami of information and misinformation about FinTech and digital assets some information may get missed. Here are five topics worth paying attention to: 1) the SEC v. Coinbase case and defining securities to include digital assets; 2) the UCC and Blockchain; 3) open banking extensions; 4) AI for loan processing; and 5) AI for cybersecurity.
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The passage of the Secure 2.0 Act had major changes on many American’s retirement planning options. The process was complex, drawn out and not without its problems. Six months after it was made into law, analysts and lawmakers have noted a few key holes in the legislation.
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Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that employees are also continuing to quit in 2023 at a rate similar to 2022. Some employers turning to long term temporary employees to fill these gaps may be wondering if they can roll those into systems set up for seasonal workers in terms of benefits. Plan sponsors should exercise caution in that area. Here’s why.
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Right now, administrative agency authority is a source of tension. Rulings on one agency may signal limits on others that regulate plans and plan sponsors. Arguments about the DOL’s ESG rule aren’t the only ones being made about agencies’ plan sponsors should watch. Here’s a round up of some potential cases.
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Recently we noticed an absence of activity regarding financial coaching regulations and standards. What’s surprising about the lack of regulation on financial coaching is that the field has been growing significantly. Financial advisors may want to pay attention to this trend as their clients may benefit from coaching but due to lack of standards, coaches may be overstepping the goal line.
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The Canadian pension model is continuing to attract attention as word of its superior returns spreads. Are US pension funds ready to follow suit? Advisors working with institutions may want to review the Canadian model to be prepared for client questions.
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With major changes to direct indexing recently, clients may be asking you about this approach. Here are four main points clients should know about this approach.
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GenZ, those aged 13 to 26, have a major consumer debt crisis clouding their future. Advisors may need to dig deep into the causes to be prepared to help this generation get back on track for retirement saving.
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Plan sponsors contemplating changes to their auto-enrollment functions may want to pay attention to the rising number of folks using their tax returns as savings. Are Americans using their tax return as a default savings account? Auto-enrollment in savings for employees without an emergency account is a newer feature of some employee benefits dashboards and is not without criticism.
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Many plan sponsors and human resource professionals may have felt increasing pressure to expand their benefits. But with that pressure comes the tension of the expense of employee benefits. This conflict usually arises over the budgeting process. Yet, there are steps that HR professionals can take now to reduce budget tension.
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Two new rules on credit reporting and credit card late fees may help employees feel empowered to tackle retirement savings. New rules proposed by the CFPB may ease employees’ minds around their relationship with their consumer debt.
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New SEC custodial rules coupled with concerns over liquidity of custodians is a cocktail mix sponsors may want to send back to the bartender. A few key points to consider of how these two trends as well as how employee education about fiduciary duty may help ease concerns about custodial liquidity and bank failures.
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What to say in uncertain times when the times keep on rolling. The bank failure and receivership crisis and investor uncertainty may bring up bigger questions about risk tolerance and risk capacity.
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Cybersecurity continues to be a going source of concern and cost for businesses. New thoughts on how to prevent internal cybersecurity issues can be combined with the EBSA’s best practices to help advisors increase their systems.
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A new trend in retirement divorce may impact plan management for participants who divorce and their families.
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As long as there have been parents, there have been complaints about schools, and innovations in the educational model. Rapid growth in both homeschooling organizations and private schools may correspond to growth in eligibility for 403(b) plans.
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The key to calm successful clients may be a return to basics. While the familiar may seem simple, that doesn’t mean it’s without merit. Portfolio review, rebalancing, education, and life insurance should be top of list as the economy continues to meander.
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Publishing which brokerage firms now have a restricted label maybe more than public shaming rulebreakers, it may be a sign that increased enforcement to protect consumers is coming both from FINRA and from the SEC. A few other harbingers are hiding the two agencies’ public notices.
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Plan sponsors keeping an eye on trends in benefit plans and offerings may want to pay attention to a new field – manufacturing. Will development of new manufacturing across the U.S. change employee expectations for benefit plans?
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SECURE Act 2.0 may require a bit of work for plan sponsors and those who manage the administrative side of benefit plans. We sat down and discussed the new act with our experts. They noted three main areas sponsors may want to consider: hardship deduction tracking; changes that could significantly increase or decrease the number of participants (and by association, your costs); and how forms are worded and stored.
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Several major trends may be colliding for women in investing. Three that may have the most impact are a potential recession, the Great Wealth Transfer, and the rebalancing after the she-cession. Advisors may want to engage in a careful consideration of these trends, how they interact, and what it means for asset building for women.
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Sales of annuities are breaking records, and yet, many advisors shy away from them. Sales in 2022 topped $80.7 billion in the summer. That’s not too shabby for an asset class that causes confusion among many.
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For the last four or five years, every article seeking to review the past year’s events has summed up the previous twelve months as “a lot.” After so much unpredictability and turmoil in the markets, reading those future planning articles may seem less than fruitful. Yet, we still think it is important to take stock of what has happened in 2022 and look at what we think might be coming in 2023.
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New lawsuits against Plan Sponsors are all over the map, and not just geographically. Sponsors are now being sued for choosing funds that are too cheap. The class action suits continue their pile-on against plan sponsors. Here are a few key takeaways.
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Seasoning isn’t just for your stuffing. Instead, seasoning may be flummoxing your benefits team. Adding those workers can add a positive boost to morale but may be a nightmare for your administrative team. Here are three key considerations to discuss with your team.
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Recently, the IRS stated that it will consider accepting determination letters from retirement plan sponsors of 403(b) plans starting in 2023. This relatively simple announcement could be good news for plan sponsors who run more than one type of plan and better news for financial advisors looking for new clients.
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The FTX crisis may be a well-timed learning opportunity for investors seeking confidence in the markets. Read on for how financial advisors can use some of the behind-the-scenes troubles at FTX as an example of the kind of information the SEC’s on-going efforts towards making information more easily accessible to investors.
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Will there be a recession? Will it Impact retirement trends? For plan sponsors, who need to allocate budgets and recruit staff, those questions are more than theoretical. Here are our takeaways and suggestions that may help plan sponsors be prepared for the change in retirement trends caused by the slowing growth and increased inflation in 2022.
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You may think you know how long to keep copies of previous benefit plans, but can your team answer the other important questions around retaining them?
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Projections for retirement and investment prospects for the last few years have been less than accurate. Aside from relying on professional groups and advisory sources like BCG, where can advisors turn to for reliable studies on investor trends and retirement data?
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The Department of Labor recently announced a major shift intended to assist so-called “Gig Workers” that may result in significant changes for financial advisors. Here is a brief summary of how we got here and where we may go.
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When it comes to financial literacy, student loan forgiveness and mortgage rates may be top of mind for younger plan participants. These may be areas that participants have identified as weaknesses or gaps in their knowledge, but there’s an argument to be made for focusing on the basics of financial literacy: they don’t know what they don’t know.
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There may be buzz around new laws on auto-enrollment’s impact on plan sponsors and their employees, but getting those employees to enroll and stay enrolled is still a pain point for many sponsors. If plan sponsors aren’t reaching their employees about the importance of saving for retirement, maybe there’s another option: social media influencers who post about personal finance.
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With recession a looming possibility, there may be more fraudsters contacting the very people in your prospect pipeline. What may be worse is that fraudulent schemes have evolved to sound more like legitimate businesses. With the scammers stealing marketing methods from legitimate advisors, how can you make sure your marketing pieces don’t get confused with more nefarious folks?
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It may seem like there is a lot of news about the stock market being volatile. If that’s got you concerned, here is an easy way to consider how you perceive the stock market and its fluctuations. Try taking a pause. Here are five things to remember about volatility that can help you position yourself appropriately and reduce your concerns.
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Many companies offering their employees a new financial wellness benefit. Plan Sponsors may want to take note, not just for how your competition may be enticing employees, but also, how those programs can increase productivity. Here’s the Who, How, Why and What of it all.
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Sponsors looking for more definitive guidelines following the Supreme Court’s Hughes decision may be waiting awhile. New court decisions haven’t stemmed the influx of cases, and further FINRA notices may indicate that Sponsors need to tighten their compliance efforts.
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Studies show that Americans retirement age is changing. What’s behind that latest trend? Those details show unsurprising results, like longevity and better health. But they also show interesting details financial advisors may want to watch.
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The Inflation Reduction Act may have had many financial advisors worried. That’s because one iteration of the legislation proposed significant changes to Section 1063 of the tax code. We thought it was important to dig in a little bit to the proposed changes and the history of them.
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How can small businesses choose the right plan that factors administrative costs but also addresses their need for flexibility? They may want to consider goals and culture. Here’s why.
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As the Wall Street Journal says, “Great meetings are small, fast, and don’t involve status updates.” So how can you get to great? Here are a few key tips.
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Your current search for marketing data may overlook your intangible assets. Here’s a deep dive into why playing on your intangible assets can help you.
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You could be doing all of your recruitment right, but still fall short on hiring. Many employers fail to focus on how the interview process informs candidates about company culture and lose networking opportunities for the almost-right candidate.
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41% of advisors report communicating more frequently with clients. Now may be a prime time to sharpen your listening skills with these tips.
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Is it time to revamp your company’s document retention policy? As always, discuss any change to information management and client records with your legal counsel. Here are a few things to consider asking your counsel, especially if you are continuing to work in a remote or hybrid work environment.
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As benefits continue to be a leading item in recruitment and retention of top candidates, plan sponsors may be considering changing their plan providers as well as their plan options. Here are a few thoughts on the pros and cons of adding plan providers, consolidating multiple plans and staying put.
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The Supreme Court’s recent case concerning plan fees has opened a pandora’s box of options for plaintiffs. Plan Sponsors may want to monitor recent developments and consider expanding their benchmarking plans.
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Plan Sponsors may feel overwhelmed having kept up with what might have felt like large swings to their demographics in their workforce. Those who are eager to keep track of demographic changes in the overall investing habits of America may want to take note of several new studies and statistics that were released.
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While RIA acquisitions may be slowing in 2022 after the unusual heat of 2021, the proliferation of them may have some advisor groups wondering if merging may be worth thinking about. When considering any major business move you should always consult with your advisors. While you await their calls, here are a few things to think about when thinking about mergers.
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Worldwide, the increase in startup companies in 2020 increased 26.9% over the last decade. Whether you are one of those companies starting fresh in 2022, or you work with many of them, there are a few clear key points in what can help make an entrepreneur successful. The clearest of them involves scaling deep versus scaling up and owning your knowledge gaps. Here’s more of what we mean.
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Recent studies have shown an uptick in interest in investing in alternative investments by Generation Z. GenZ are those who are roughly ages 10 to 25 in 2022. Plan Sponsors who worry that their GenZ employees may be forgoing 401(k)s for buying blitzes of bitcoin can rest a little easier. GenZ is investing in their 401(k)s, but that’s not all they’re betting on.
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Changes to the laws around the post office may have arrived right on time. Many plan sponsors struggled with using first class mail during the pandemic due to the overload on the Post Office. But not so fast, struggles may still be on extended delivery. Here’s a quick survey of what plan sponsors may want to consider around first-class mail and plan disclosures.
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The Department of Labor has announced a major change to its process of assessing requests for exemptions from prohibited transactions. This change could impact fiduciaries, those who serve plans, and others who may need to monitor the potential for prohibited transactions.
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When employees returned to the office from the months or years locked in WFH, they discovered sad coffee cups, lonely plants and their undying hatred of the office printer. With employees working from home, they may have lost the tolerance they had for the minor tech issues that your office worked on or around. Now may be the best time to assess your technical debt.
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25% of Gen Z employees and 23% of Millennials are planning on leaving their jobs in the next 6 months. In the midst of these large, life changing decisions, how can plan sponsors help their employees navigate smaller but no less important decisions, like planning for retirement?
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New legislation about the US Postal Service may seem like a huge benefit to investors and fiduciaries. But a deeper dive into the recent changes, as well as the USPS’s requests leading up to them, may in fact result in longer mail times, not shorter ones. Here’s what to know.
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Hearing about factor rotation a lot lately? So are your clients. Here’s what they might really be asking you about.
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A new study released this winter should ring warning bells for any advisor as investors report trading more frequently, increasingly buying alternative assets and turning to social media for advice.
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New research shows that gender diversity in leadership does more than ensure fair representation. It may also change how companies think. That in turn may explain why companies that are more gender diverse outperform their less diverse counterparts. Is it time to keep an eye on Female-Led Indexes?
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While everyone may seem like they are singing the same sad tune about the Fed, there could be one key group left out of the chorus: your Employees. They need to know how the Fed impacts their savings and retirement plans.
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Many in wealth management have been focused on the estate planning aspects of the upcoming so called Great Transfer of Wealth. But there is another side to that massive trend – those who will inherit the assets.
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As the pandemic moves into its continuing phase and life gets slightly back to normal, we can look back and see that clients really did move more of their treasure towards charity. As philanthropic software giant Blackbaud recently stated in it’s study charitable giving was up 8% and up 17% overall.
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Following such an unpredictable few years, employees may be wondering if they can or should even set goals anymore. Plan Sponsors can help employees all year long by providing information about proper goal setting. Here are a few ideas.
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A new definition of “fiduciary” might be here by the close of 2021. But how do we get there?
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A new global study found that 41% of investors say that its going to take a miracle for them to retire on time. Is this true for American Investors?
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Empowering employees to ask questions, raise concerns and become more educated can help those employees feel more confident in investing and saving for retirement. How to Address Employees’ Concerns About Changes to the Economy Through Education.
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A quick review of what’s on the Supreme Court’s docket will show the “as yet to be calendared” case of Hughes v. Northwestern University. This case could impact an advisor’s duty of prudence and is worth watching for a variety of reasons.
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If you are facing a blank screen and blinking cursor for your next client newsletter, we have a solid suggestion for you: respond to someone else’s content. It’s a practice well accepted in academia for generations, and its making its way through social media too.
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Average 401(k) balances are up more than 20%. What’s behind those eye-catching numbers? Why are employees investing more? The answers can inform plan sponsors’ educational programs in 2022.
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Given how well participants in 403(b) plans did over the last 18 months (in terms of savings and enrollment), Plan Sponsors may want to get ready for some common queries. Here’s a review of what we’ve seen on the Internet that may need clearing up for your participants.
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