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Unauthorized AI at Work and Cybersecurity Threats

A new report shows that a large percentage of employees are using AI at work, without their employer’s knowledge or approval. Unauthorized AI can create serious cybersecurity risks for those handling private financial information. Such use may also run afoul of the EBSA’s recommendations for retirement plan service providers.

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A Difference of Opinion on the Gender Diversity in Investment Management: Food for Thought

A recent article highlighted on NASDAQ’s news page noted that demographic changes among retirees may create opportunities for more diversity among advisors. Yet, that report seems to not align with other, more recent studies. That may beg the question, what is the state of gender diversity in asset management and financial advising?

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Supreme Court Allows Consumer Finance Protection Agency to Continue, But Congressional Legislation May Curtail Its Jurisdiction

A recent opinion from the Supreme Court on a regulatory agency’s funding could resolve some questions over the future of regulation of the retirement planning industry. Yet, there may also be changes on the horizon through related legislation.

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What’s Keeping Small Businesses From Offering Retirement Plans? Lack of Knowledge of Options

A new report from the Center for Retirement Research may be important for advisors who plan to pitch their fiduciary services to small firms. Released in March of 2024, the 2023 Small Business Retirement Survey assesses the beliefs of small business owners regarding retirement benefits and how those beliefs move their decisions to offer, or not, such benefits.

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Diversifying Through ESG Investments

In recent years ESG investing has emerged as a popular choice for investors looking to align their portfolios with their values. One of the key questions advisors may hear from their clients is whether ESG funds perform as well as traditional investments and if they can be a valuable addition to a diversified investment portfolio. Here is a review of where the industry stands on this area.

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Follow These Tips: New Strategies to Refresh Your Arsenal of Prospect Follow Up Communications

The average professional worker is swamped by more than 120 emails per day. In this deluge of emails, a problem bobs along like a tiny rowboat: your marketing leads. If you feel like you need to level up your follow ups, here are a few new strategies we’ve seen from a variety of industries.

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Hardship Withdrawals and Participant Understanding

When it comes to hardship withdrawals, participants may focus more on what they hear and not what is in your plan. Plan Sponsors may want to pause and consider what participants hear versus what the new laws now permit.

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Quarterly Plans: Fiduciary Checklists in Smaller Bites

Many Plan Sponsors balance their administrative concerns by approaching their various fiduciary and administrative responsibilities via checklists and project plans. Yet even these planning tools may fall short. Most of those approaches fail to address both administrative and analytical issues. A quarter by quarter approach may help create the right balance.

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The State of Student Loans: Revisiting Student Loan Payment Matching as a Recruitment Tool

Over the last few years, employers took note of the role benefits played in recruiting employees. Some employers considered matching payments to student loans. But nearly half of employers have chosen not to adopt matching programs. And now several trends may show that hesitancy is warranted.

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Common Cash Concerns: What Signs Can Be Found in the Guidance for Secure 2.0 Act Sections 304 and 348?

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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Navigating Benefit Cutbacks: 8 Tips for Communicating Effectively with Employees

In the realm of employee benefits, change is inevitable. Sometimes, however, change comes in the form of cutbacks, which can be unsettling for employees. As a plan sponsor, effectively communicating these changes to your workforce is paramount. In today's landscape, where employees expect transparency and authenticity, navigating benefit cutbacks requires finesse and a departure from traditional corporate speak.

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AI and Benefits Policy Management: Guidance on the Use of AI

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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EBSA Enforcement Data: Are Enforcement Numbers Up?

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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Everyone’s Talking About Aging, So Why Can’t Advisors?

The public is having a very heated conversation on aging and capacity, especially when it comes to holding political office. Some may even want a break from the coverage of older politicians and their foibles. But one arena that may need more discussion of longevity and aging is retirement planning.

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“Have I answered All Your Questions today?”

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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Post-Hughes, Mid-Lawsuit Frenzy: Keeping Records on Your Recordkeeping Fees May Be Crucial

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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Trend Watch: Pension Popularity

Into the brave new world of post Secure Act 2.0 benefit administration comes new and challenging accommodation requests for things such as mental health and long COVID-related illnesses, which may create confusion over balancing and discrimination testing a plan. So, we can only imagine the dismay some benefits advisors may have over news noting an increased favorability of pensions.

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Supreme Court Weighs Power of Agencies Like the DOL to Impose Penalties without a Jury

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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Divesting Inflation Demographics: Consumer Studies May Show It’s More Than Inflation Irking Investors

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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New Year, New Rules: Fiduciary Duty Rules and Independent Contract Rules May Put Advisors in a Pinch

Financial advisors may feel like they are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place lately and both rock and hard place may be the doing of the Department of Labor. If you thought the proposed fiduciary rule was the only problem popping up, beware the independent contractor definition changes.

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Major Overhaul of Financial Regulations Coming? Supreme Court Considers Chevron Change

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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New Statistics on American’s Feelings About Annuities and the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule: Possibly Out of Synch

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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Profit Vultures and Compliance Culture

Among the many takeaways from the Binance charges and the Bankman-Fried trial how charisma can impact a company’s disregard for business basics, such as an accounting department in the Bankman-Fried case. Unlike cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, you can never have too much consideration of compliance in the financial industry. Company culture can be a big player in how employees put compliance into effect.

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Luxury Lapses: Quiet Luxury and Prospect Clients

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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Inflation and Retirement Investing: Revisiting the Saving by Side Hustle and Its Drawbacks.

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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Authors

Beau Adams
Executive Vice President, BCG
John Correll
Client Relations Team Leader
Kevin Bonner
Regional Retirement Sales Director
Nina Wilkinson
Client Relations Manager
Robert Terry
Retirement Plan Sales Manager

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