We know that most plan participants are not financial experts, and that can make planning for retirement difficult. Fortunately, there are some basic steps that you can follow to work toward a successful retirement.

Learn the basics of saving and investing.

Understand the basic types of investment products, like stocks, bonds, and money market accounts. Each of these has its risks and rewards, and plan participants should know what those are, and how they can fit together in an investment portfolio. Plan participants should have a firm grasp on what their retirement plan offers and how they can benefit from that.

Avoid common mistakes.

Not diversifying, not rebalancing asset allocations, becoming too emotional, and not having an investment plan: these are all common errors that you might make. The best way to avoid these mistakes is by starting with the last item on that list, an investment plan. Developing a sound investment program could be one of the best paths to retirement.

Focus on three critical components of an investment plan.

While some things, like bull and bear markets, are beyond your control, there are three things you do control: When to start saving, how much to save, and when to retire. Starting sooner and saving more have much more to do with a successful retirement than the actual returns their investments make. Deciding when to retire is crucial, as well. Delaying retirement means more time for investments to potentially grow.

Monitor the plan, and adjust as necessary.

A strong investment program should evolve as your circumstances change. Changes in income, new family members, financial windfalls or setbacks, or any other major event in your life should trigger a financial review to make sure you’re still on track for retirement.

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.
 
Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place. Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.

ACR# 346488 4/20

Ready to Connect?

Our mission is to help you and your family Invest Intentionally®.
Contact us today to start your journey.

Start your journey

Several events can trigger a DOL or IRS audit, such as employee complaints or self-reporting under the annual submission of the Form 5500. Oftentimes an audit is a random event, which is why you should always be prepared. Listed below are several key items typically requested in an initial letter sent by the IRS or the DOL in connection with a retirement plan audit. These items should be readily accessible by the plan administrator at all times the plan is in operation.

If you have questions about preparing for an audit, or need plan design review assistance, please contact us.

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place. Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.

ACR# 346488 4/20

Ready to Connect?

Our mission is to help you and your family Invest Intentionally®.
Contact us today to start your journey.

Start your journey

Retirement is a whole new phase of life. You’ll experience many new things, and you’ll leave others behind – but what you won’t avoid is taxes. If you’ve followed the advice of retirement plan consultants, you’re probably saving in tax-advantaged retirement accounts. These types of accounts defer taxes until withdrawal, and you’ll probably withdraw funds in retirement. Also, you may have to pay taxes on other types of income – Social Security, pension payments, or salary from a part-time job. With that in mind, it makes sense for you to develop a retirement income strategy.

Consider when to start taking Social Security. The longer you wait to begin your benefits (up to age 70), the greater your benefits will be. Remember, though, that currently up to 85 percent of your Social Security income is considered taxable if
your income is over $34,000 each year.

Be cognizant of what tax bracket you fall into. You may be in a lower tax bracket in retirement, so you’ll want to monitor your income levels (Social Security, pensions, annuity payments) and any withdrawals to make sure you don’t take out so much that you get bumped into a higher bracket.

Think about your withdrawal sequence. Generally speaking, you should take withdrawals in the following order:

These factors are complex, and you may want to consult a tax professional to help you apply these tips to your own financial situation. You can test different strategies and see which ones can help you minimize the taxes you’ll pay on your savings and benefits.

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.

ACR# 3493422 03/21


 
Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place. Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.

Over 40 percent of employers now offer at least a small retirement plan match to employees, who can help manage their financial wellness by taking advantage of this offer. Even if your employer only matches a small percentage, you’re losing money by not participating. But before you sign up for your company’s retirement plan, it’s important to know how to make the most of it. Here are a few tips that can help.

Get the Details
If you haven’t already clarified the details of your business’s retirement plan offerings, it’s never too late to find out. Ask your HR representative to list the benefits and find out how you can maximize your savings. Some employers offer a 50 percent match for each dollar you put in, while others match a dollar for every dollar. Find out what your company’s maximum match contribution is and decide whether you want to save only to that point or more.

Don’t Be Afraid to Contribute More
If your employer only matches up to a certain amount, don’t feel you have to only save that up to that point. Every dollar you save will grow tax-free over the years, providing a healthy cushion for your retirement years. The IRS does impose contribution limits, but those are fairly high, so it’s likely you won’t need to worry about it.

Don’t Assume You’re Enrolled
New employees often assume they were automatically enrolled in a business’s retirement, especially if the employer match was a selling point during the pre-hiring process. Make sure to ask if there’s something you need to do to enroll in the retirement plan program and take advantage of the match. Ask for program details and pay particular attention to any vesting schedule. If your employer-sponsored program has vesting requirements, you may find that you only receive the full benefits after a set time of employment.

An important part of financial wellness is getting every benefit possible out of your work-sponsored retirement program. This often comes in the form of an employer match to your retirement plan, which will help you get a big head start on saving for your future!

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.
 
Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place. Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.
 
ACR#337588 01/20
~ RPAG

Many organizations face the problem of increasing employee participation in their retirement plans. Participation is crucial to the success of the plan, and it improves employee retention and overall job satisfaction – but how can plan sponsors improve participation rates?

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.
 
Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place. Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.

 
ACR# 335083
~ RPAG

Department of Labor (DOL) enforcement recoveries are on the rise. A recent DOL report indicates that DOL recoveries have doubled since 2018 and tripled since 2016 (https://www.investmentnews.com/dol-retirement-plan-recoveries-198660). As a result, fiduciary liability premiums have increased 35% since last year (https://www.investmentnews.com/fiduciary-insurance-costs-401k-litigation-198407).

Fiduciaries are personally responsible for participant losses resulting from a fiduciary breach. Plan sponsor fiduciaries who handle plan investments themselves, or use advisors who do not assume fiduciary status, face potential exposure for both investment performance and all plan fees.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) specifies that any plan fiduciary level decision must be informed by expertise. Most plans do not have a credentialed investment expert on committee (if they do, that individual is typically not amenable to accepting the responsibility and liability involved). Plan sponsors who are wont to mitigate this liability for investment decisions (investment menu structure, selecting and monitoring plan investment options) have specific options available under ERISA.

ERISA 3(21) Investment Advisor
The most utilized mitigation option and perhaps most suitable for many plans is hiring an ERISA 3(21) investment advisor. An advisor acting in a 3(21) capacity is responsible for delivering unbiased prudent investment recommendations regarding the selection, and ongoing monitoring of plan investments. The DOL has made clear that it is the responsibility of the plan investment fiduciaries that the final selection be commensurate with their participants’ needs. Your advisor has access to a Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA) selection tool. This tool is used to determine and document the participant demographic investment appropriateness for a QDIA, thus eligible for a fiduciary “QDIA safe harbor”. This same tool can also aid in making an appropriateness determination for individual investments as well.

ERISA 3(38) Investment Advisor
Section 402 of ERISA allows plan fiduciaries to delegate investment responsibilities to, what ERISA calls, a “named fiduciary.” This named fiduciary is a 3(38) investment advisor who assumes all responsibilities for selection, monitoring, and participant demographic appropriateness for plan investments. The company is then left with only monitoring that the advisor retains a prudent analytic process (e.g., their analytic process does not deteriorate substantially from its original prudent level). The 3(38) advisor needs to work with the client to determine investment appropriateness on issues such as risk, expense, and style appropriateness, but once accomplished, substantially more meeting time is available for other important topics like fiduciary education, plan success, participant retirement readiness, and more.

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.
 
Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place. Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.
 
 
ACR# 3366044 12/20
~ RPAG

This month’s employee memo encourages employees to learn about their retirement plan to determine whether any changes need to be made.

Your employer provides you with a retirement plan for you to save money in, tax-deferred, for the day you bid your career farewell and enter into retirement. It’s important for you to know the facts about your plan, so you can maximize its saving potential. Here are essentials to know about your retirement plan:

What is it? A defined contribution plan designed to help you finance your retirement. As a participant in the plan, you own an individual account within the plan that you contribute money to for your retirement.

What are the limits? For the year 2021, you can contribute a total of $19,500 towards your retirement plan. Individuals age 50 and over can contribute an additional $6,500.

Salary deferral advantages. By participating in the plan you receive the benefit of saving via payroll deduction on a tax-deferred basis. Tax deferral on both savings and asset growth via payroll deduction helps you save more money and pay less tax upon distribution at retirement.

Tax-deferred growth. Not being taxed on the growth of your assets helps accumulations during your working years. With your qualified retirement savings plan, you not only defer taxes on the amount you save, but earnings on your savings is also tax deferred until distribution.

Employer contributions. If offered, they help you accumulate assets for retirement and can add considerably to your retirement account balance. You are also not taxed on your employer’s contributions until distribution.

Portability. If you change employers at some point in your career, you typically can keep your assets in the current plan, roll your assets over to your new employer’s plan or roll your assets into an IRA.

This material was created to provide accurate and reliable information on the subjects covered but should not be regarded as a complete analysis of these subjects. It is not intended to provide specific legal, tax or other professional advice. The services of an appropriate professional should be sought regarding your individual situation.

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.

 

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place. Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.

 

ACR# 3366044 12/20

The Department of Labor is working on a guidance package addressing cybersecurity issues as they relate to plan sponsors and third-party providers.

Tim Hauser, Deputy Assistant Secretary for DOL’s Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) has indicated that we should expect more focus in the department’s investigations of the adequacy of various cybersecurity programs to confirm that service providers plan sponsors hire are practicing effective cybersecurity practices.

Mr. Hauser also indicated that the forthcoming guidance would be informal, and not a formal notice and comment.

Plan Sponsor Considerations
The DOL expects there to be questions asked when hiring a TPA or record-keeper.
• What practices and policies do the service provider have to ensure their systems are secure?
• Does the service provider have regular third-party audits by an independent entity?
• How does the third party validate their systems cybersecurity?
• Is there any history of cybersecurity incidents? If so, what is their track record?
• What did they learn from any prior incidents, and how have they improved their defensive processes?
• Do they indemnify their clients in event of security systems breaches that result in losses?
• Do they have insurance policies to make you whole and cover breaches, or do they have all sorts of waivers and exculpatory clauses in their contracts?

In the event a security breach is identified and an offender has achieved access to confidential information, the plan sponsor should produce a documented response, including notifying law enforcement, the FBI, the plan and their participants.

Once an official final guidance package is made available, we will share that information with you.

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.

ACR# 3330000 11/20

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place. Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.

It is that time when plan sponsors need to send annual notices to participants. The 401(k) safe harbor, qualified default investment alternative (“QDIA”), and automatic enrollment notices must all be sent to plan participants between 30-90 days before the beginning of the plan year (i.e., no later than December 2nd for calendar year end plans), and may be combined into a single document.

401(k) Safe Harbor

Plan sponsors of safe harbor matching contribution plans can retain the flexibility to reduce future contributions by issuing “maybe not” language in their annual 401(k) safe harbor notice.

Prior to this year, safe harbor non-elective contribution plans had to be in place as of the first day of the plan year and were subject to the safe harbor notice requirements. Effective beginning January 1, 2020, not only can a 401(k) plan be converted into a safe harbor non-elective plan at any time during the plan year or even during the following plan year, but the notice requirement has been eliminated. Generally, safe harbor plans can make a mid-year reduction or suspension of a safe harbor contribution, but only if the employer is either (1) operating at an economic loss, or (2) had already provided a “maybe not notice”. As a result of the economic downturn created by COVID-19, the IRS issued temporary relief from this limitation on suspensions.

QDIA

If your plan contains a QDIA, you must provide an annual notice to all participants who were defaulted or may be defaulted into the QDIA in order to retain this fiduciary protection. Many plan sponsors send the notice to all plan participants.

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.

 

NOVEMBER 30, 2020 ~ RPAG   ACR# 3330000 11/20

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place. Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your retirement plan is a valuable resource for your employees and serves as a vehicle to attract and retain top talent. Ensuring plan success is crucial. Examining plan analytics can help evaluate its success.

Plan analytics you should explore:

Median age, tenure and savings rates of plan participants

These analytics can be helpful to determine which age groups are not strongly participating and may be encouraged to do so via on-site meetings, focused mailings and other communication and education.

Participants not contributing sufficiently to receive all eligible employer match

Participants “leaving money on the table” can be studied to explain why contributing to the employer match maximum is so advantageous (e.g., with a 50 percent match, participants automatically earn 50 percent “return” on their contribution before any investment gains occur).

Participants, by age, in each target date fund

Another demographic that can be helped by focused participant communications.

Participants taking loans

It is important for plan fiduciaries to determine if the plan loan provision is being abused. This can result in significant asset leakage with participants and oversight concerns for plan fiduciaries.

Loan default rates

Loan defaults also create problems for participants (taxation & penalties for premature distributions) and plan fiduciaries (loan defaults at 90 days arrear are a fiduciary breach).

Dollar amounts of employee contributions by type and source

These analytics allow for a deep dive into appropriateness of participant behavior potentially impacting plan menu design decisions, employee investment assistance, Roth utilization, TDF utilization and more.

Many factors impact the success of your plan. Studying your plan’s analytics helps you improve your plan and ensures your employees reach their retirement goals.

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place. Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.

ACR#337588 01/20