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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Posts Tagged ‘United States Department of Labor’

Target Date Funds on Top of the Defined Contribution World

Posted by William Byrnes on April 8, 2011

Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? This topic discusses a relatively new form of retirement investment offered by companies to their employees. The topic presents information about target date funds, what they are, who may use them and how they work. The defined contribution retirement market is a prime location for wealth managers to earn fees and commissions. Thus, staying informed about new market updates is provided to give managers an edge when exploring retirement benefits.

The Government Accountability Office recently published a report stating that financial security of millions of Americans in their retirement years will substantially depend on their savings in 401(k) and other defined contribution (DC) plans. [1]The GAO notes, to help ensure adequate financial resources for retirement, participants in DC plans should make adequate contributions during their working years and invest contributions in a way that will facilitate adequate investment returns over time.

To that end, the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) included various provisions designed to encourage greater retirement savings among workers eligible to participate in 401(k) plans, such as provisions that facilitate plan sponsors’ adoption of automatic enrollment policies. [2]

Under such policies, eligible workers are automatically enrolled unless they explicitly decide to opt out of participation. Because an automatic enrollment program must also include a default investment—a vehicle in which contributions will be invested absent a specific choice by the plan participant—the act also directed the Department of Labor to assist employers in selecting default investments that best serve the retirement needs of workers who do not direct their own investments. Since that time, target date funds (TDF)—that is, investment funds that invest in a mix of assets, and shift from higher-risk to lower-risk investments as a participant approaches their “target” retirement date—have emerged as by far the most popular default investment.

TDFs are designed to provide an age appropriate asset allocation for plan participants over time.    However, target date funds vary considerably in asset structures and in other ways, largely as a result of the different objectives and investment philosophies of fund managers. In the years approaching the retirement date, for example, some TDFs have a relatively low equity allocation—35 percent or less—so that plan participants will be insulated from excessive losses near retirement. Other TDFs have an equity allocation of 60 percent or more in the belief that relatively high equity returns will help ensure that retirees do not deplete savings in old age.

TDFs also vary considerably in other respects, such as in the use of alternative assets and complex investment techniques. In addition, allocations are based in part on assumptions about plan participant actions—such as contribution rates and how plan participants will manage 401(k) assets upon retirement—which may differ from the actions of many participants. These investment differences and differences between assumed and actual participant behavior may have significant implications for the retirement security of plan participants invested in TDFs.

Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

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New Report Shows Room for Growth for Wealth Managers

Posted by William Byrnes on December 2, 2010

New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New ...

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According to a recent report by Javelin Strategy and Research (California); “[a]lthough the recent ‘Great Recession’ has caused millions of Americans to tighten their belts financially, nearly one out of five consumers are financial sleepwalkers”—those who do not manage their personal finances. [1] That’s right; at least 20% of Americans are not currently using wealth managers to manage their personal finances. The report states that the rate is more than double that of 2009. [2] This presents a vast opportunity for wealth managers to expand their market share.

The United States Department of Labor project that personal financial advisors are estimated to grow by 30 percent over the 2008–18 period.  “Growing numbers of advisors will be needed to assist the millions of workers expected to retire in the next 10 years.” [3] Further, “[a]s more members of the large baby boom generation reach their peak years of retirement savings, personal investments are expected to increase and more people will seek the help of experts.” [4]

Moreover, there is a trend in corporate America to replace “traditional pension plans with retirement savings programs, so more individuals are managing their own retirements than in the past,” creating additional opportunity for wealth managers. [5] In addition, as medical technology continues to advance and people on average, live longer, the need for additional financial planning arises.

The average compensation for wealth managers is around $89,920 to $110,130 for those marketing insurance products and services as well as other financial investments. [6] New York has the most wealth managers in terms of total numbers. [7] In addition, New York wealth managers made on average $146,460, the most from any state. [8] Read the entire article at AdvisorFYI.

For previous blogticles covering the wealth management industry, see the series beginning The Future of Wealth Management

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The Department of Labor Releases Final 401(k) Disclosure Rules

Posted by William Byrnes on November 9, 2010

Fee disclosure rules for 401(k) plans were expected out of the Department of Labor in early 2011, but the Department beat its own estimates, releasing a final rule on plan fee disclosures on October 14, 2010.   The rules impose significant disclosure requirements that are important for everyone associated with self-directed employee retirement plans, including employees and their advisors and plan fiduciaries.

The new rules apply to plan years beginning after November 1, 2011. Although plan administrators have over a year to comply with the new requirements, the disclosure requirements are very extensive—the release that includes the regulations is over 150 pages long—and will require significant action on the part of most plan fiduciaries, so time is of the essence.  Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For in-depth analysis of 401(k) retirement plans, see Advisor’s Main Library: Section 17.5  401(k) Plans.

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