At the end of August, I made my first trip to Burning Man, an annual event held in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada. With 10 guiding principles, it involves art, music and free-spiritedness. This experiment in temporary community sees 65,000+ attendees converge on a dried-up lake bed, build a temporary city and leave behind no trace that it ever existed only a couple of short weeks later. Katie Couric, Chris Taylor and Grover Norquist describe it better than I could.
Topic Archive: Retirement Plan
When I was kid, I used to love Schoolhouse Rock during the commercial breaks of Saturday morning cartoons. Even now, I have them all on DVD as well as a CD of covers by various rock musicians, and I still sing along with all of them word-for-word!
If you’ve spent any time working with retirement plans, you know how complicated they can be. It seems like every rule has an exception and an exception to that exception. It is no wonder that accidents occasionally happen despite everyone’s best efforts to follow the rules.
“Real estate doesn't interest me. It's no doubt a great flaw in my personality, but I can't think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies.” -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
My good friend and benefits attorney Ilene Ferenczy sends out an e-newsletter from time-to-time. The Ferenczy Flash always includes timely, practical information for plan sponsors and service providers. The edition she sent earlier this week highlights a very important point that often gets lost in the 401(k) shuffle - while all of the fiduciary rules are important, it is failing to comply with the Tax Code that is more likely to land most plan sponsors in hot water.
I was recently asked to write an article on ERISA Section 404(c). As I contemplated how to approach the article, I recalled many situations in which I have heard 404(c) pitched as the mythical silver bullet to save plan fiduciaries from the specter of liability associated with participant-directed investments.
An article appeared yesterday on CFO.com entitled “New 401(k) Obligations Heaped on CFOs” and it carried a tagline stating “New disclosure rules abound, but pay close attention or you could be sued by plan participants.”
After my weekend post on "easy" plans not being so easy, I happened across this post by Ary Rosenbaum. It is a variation on the theme and focuses more on the size of the plan rather than its design complexity. The conclusion...size often matters when it comes to the quality of service. Small plans (often viewed by many as being synonymous with "easy" plans) often encounter more compliance issues simply because they are not receiving the level of expert attention as larger plans. They also tend to view their plans as being less expensive, because they are not aware of the various undisclosed costs being charged against plan assets.
Qualified plans are complicated beasts regardless of size or design. This truth is sometimes forgotten at this time of year when sponsors and service-providers are busy dealing with nondiscrimination testing and contribution calculations. I've many situations in which a plan sponsor decided to skip testing for a year, because their plan was so easy there was no way it could fail. Similarly, I've seen service-providers decide to skip the critical peer review step in their process, because nothing could possibly have been missed on such an easy plan.
Over the last few weeks, I have spoken with at least four plan sponsors who just became aware that they missed the April 30, 2010 deadline to restate their plan documents for EGTRRA. For those in certain federally declared disaster areas, the deadline was extended to July 30, 2010.