When we think of employee benefits in today’s traditional landscape, we don’t typically include wellness within that core definition. Instead, wellness is often considered a standalone strategy. But this can be a disastrous scenario, considering how employee benefits and well-being go hand in hand. Most employees think of the two as the same and expect well-being initiatives to be included in their workday through fitness trackers, standing desks, flex time, healthy food options, etc.
The number of notices and disclosures required to retirement plan participants has increased while methods to access information changed drastically. Many people receive their news and information on electronic devices through apps and social media. What remains the same is the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) guidance about permissible methods to provide notices electronically. There is a disconnect between how people are accustomed to receiving information (electronically) and what is permissible under ERISA.
Globalization of the world economy has increased exposure to international investments, yet equity portfolios in general remain largely home biased today. This may be a good time for participants to reevaluate their asset allocation to see if they may be exhibiting a home country bias— or displaying overly optimistic expectations about the domestic market and/or pessimism about foreign markets.
If you have ever opened a brokerage account with an advisor, you know the first step is gathering information to determine the risk profile and appropriate investment allocation for the individual. In order to determine the appropriate allocation for a client, financial advisors will inquire about income level, savings rate, net worth, time horizon, spending needs, investment knowledge and most importantly risk tolerance. Based on this information the advisor will recommend a tailored allocation to help individuals reach their objectives while maintaining an appropriate risk level to help ensure clients remain invested through market downturns.
Time is a powerful modifier of perception and purpose. No need to look any further than the frequent rumblings surrounding fixed income in the current rising interest rate environment. That isn’t to say the frequently touted “bond bubble” and rising interest rate topics are unimportant or overstated, it’s merely a reaction to the volume and misappropriation of focus often exhibited in these ongoing conversations. Monitoring the trajectory of rising interest rates is a good idea, however letting it affect the way you invest in fixed income may not prove additive in the long term.
We are now in the eighth year of an equity bull market, making this the second-longest upswing in American history.¹ Additionally, the bond market has been in a secular bull market since 1982 as rates on the 10-year treasury fell steadily from above 14 percent to below 2 percent last year.² The recent strong returns we have experienced may be difficult to sustain due to equity valuations, near-record corporate profit margins, and low interest rates. This is not to say we are in a bubble or an imminent bear market looms, however now may be a good time to reset long-term investment return expectations for participants. In fact, California’s state public pension system, Calpers, recently lowered their expectations for long-term investment returns from 7.5 percent to 7 percent.³ Even those reduced projections may prove optimistic.
Financial Benefits for the Business
Retirement Advisory Council
How Outstanding Retirement Plan Advisors Help CFOs Mitigate the Adverse Effects of Workforce Aging on the Company Financials
The term “alternative investments” may conjure images of classic automobiles, fine wine, rare art and valuable jewels. Some may think about the Honus Wagner baseball card that sold for $3.12 million at auction in 2016. Or about the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that sold at auction for a whopping $34.65 million in 2014. Or maybe they set their sights even higher and think about the Hope Diamond, with an estimated value of $200-$250 million.
In the past few weeks, lawsuits were launched against twelve higher education institutions: Yale, NYU, Emory, MIT, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, Duke, Cornell, Columbia, Northwestern, and University of Southern California. The law firm of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton filed 11 of the 12 putative class action suits, claiming breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) for providing a substandard plan model that allowed the plan participants to incur excessive fees.