PLANSPONSOR Weekend Newsdash
Week ending December 1st, 2017

Happy Friday, readers! For advisers and many other professionals and business owners, the end of the year can be a helpful time to step back and survey one’s recent progress. This is particularly important today for retirement specialist financial advisers. Broadly speaking, the industry in 2017 has again seen a steady stream of important new developments—shifts in regulation, the creation of innovative new products and service strategies, and the emergence of automation technologies. Collected below is a helpful series of articles centered on the theme of embracing industry change and evolving for the long-term future. We hope you’ll share some of what you read with a client or colleague.

Practice Management
Onboarding Clients
Newport Capital Group in Red Bank, New Jersey, winner of the 2016 PLANSPONSOR Plan Adviser Large Team of the Year designation, has many strategies in place to onboard and get to know new plan sponsor clients. The advisory firm believes it is important to “thoroughly understand each plan sponsor’s goals for its company.” Immediately upon starting with a new client, the practice sits down with and asks its executives what issues are the most pressing—both for the company and for individual employees. As Newport Group puts it, having an “open dialogue during early onboarding sessions” is one of the keys to long-term retention. It may seem obvious, but even in the age of technology and plan automation, having as many of the initial conversations in person as possible is crucial to establishing rapport. Read more >
Pooling Investors’ Assets
Pooling investor assets results in a number of efficiencies including significant cost savings. That said, advisers should be aware of certain considerations that arise depending on the types of investors that participate in pooled investment funds. Specifically, certain requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code must be met when accepting benefit plan investors, such as ERISA-covered plans and individual retirement accounts. Read more >
When Advisers Tout Their Own Services
Under the fiduciary rule reforms, an adviser can still tout the value of their services and educate the prospective client without becoming a fiduciary adviser. However, when you recommend a specific investment, an investment strategy or a particular type of account that results in compensation to you or your firm, you will engage in a fiduciary act. And you may also be committing a prohibited transaction for which an exemption such as the best interest contract exemption is needed. Read more >
Keeping Them Happy
When plan advisers ask sponsor clients for their feedback, this can call forth compliments that validate an advisory firm’s service model and working style. But sometimes sponsors give negative feedback about an advisory firm’s services. Premier advisers learn to welcome not just sponsors’ compliments, but their occasional criticisms, too. Read more >
2017 PLANADVISER Retirement Plan Adviser Survey
Advisers were asked to rank both their perception of listed recordkeepers and how often they have worked with those recordkeepers. The providers that received the largest percentage of “very favorable” ratings were: Empower Retirement, Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price, Vanguard and Principal Financial Group. Still, it is worth noting that only Empower received a very favorable rating from more than half of the advisers scoring them—53%. The rest of the group most frequently worked with were John Hancock Retirement Plan Services, ADP Retirement Services and American Funds Distributors. Read more >
Advisers Beware and Be Cautious When Talking Taxes in 2018

During a webinar called to discuss the advisory industry impacts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, experts warned advisers to be ready to decline to offer tax advice during 2018—over and over again.

Three Quarters of Americans Have Not Planned for LTC Needs

Yet nearly six in 10 say saving for long-term care is a financial priority

Wells Fargo Advisors SEC Filing Hints at Federal Fiduciary Investigation

The firm says it does not have additional information to share at this juncture beyond what has been noted in a 2017 year-end SEC filing; in that newly emerged document, Wells Fargo Advisors says it has begun an internal investigation into “whether there have been inappropriate referrals or recommendations” made by its advisors, including with respect to rollovers for 401(k) plan participants.

Confusion Abounds After Fifth Circuit Decision Vacates DOL Fiduciary Rule

The latest decision out of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals throws a dramatic new element of confusion into the epic regulatory saga that has been the rollout of the Department of Labor fiduciary rule.

Advisers Moving to a Client-Centric Model

Advisers are using new planning models and smarter technology, including automation, so that they can offer personalized service, SEI finds.

Editorial: Alison Cooke Mintzer

Advertising: Paul Zampitella

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