October 5, 2017—Guaranteed Insurance Contracts, or GICs, are marketed as a reliable - even simple - company retirement plan investment vehicle. In my experience, however, employers whose 401(k) or 403(b) plans include GICs and their participants could benefit from carefully examining the GICs inner workings as they consider the best option to build toward a secure retirement.
My initial sit-down with employers who include a GIC in their company retirement plan offers a good occasion to “pop the hood” of their plan. Frequently I hear that their employees like the GIC because it “guarantees” a rate of return, they are protected from potentially negative investment returns, and – in most cases – there are no “fees” associated with their selection of the GIC. So, I find it helpful to examine with them some of the gears and levers that make a Guaranteed Insurance Contract tick.
September 6, 2017—There’s good news for employers! Many have been on edge as they read about the “excessive fee” lawsuits filed against retirement plan fiduciaries, some of which have made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Or they’re shaken as they hear about the detailed fee document requests and questions from Department of Labor auditors to 401(k) and 403(b) plan sponsors and the fines and penalties that can result from DOL investigations.
While lawsuits and investigations have served a purpose in lowering plan fees, a side effect is that many plan sponsors, in their concern to meet compliance standards, have made a search for the lowest fees such a priority that they have unwittingly overlooked the best way to serve plan participants! In fact, when I meet with employers, they often first tell me they need to reduce plan fees to create a “hedge of protection” for themselves.
August 2, 2017—A Qualified Default Investment Alternative – more commonly known as a QDIA – is a provision available to 401(k) and 403(b) plans that reduces the potential personal liability of plan fiduciaries while improving the ability of participants to build toward retirement. For many employers whose plan doesn’t currently have a QDIA, only a few steps are required to take advantage of its benefits.