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

Planning for the departure of a loved one is a difficult thing to think about, but no matter how delicate, it is something any pragmatic planner must consider. What happens to your retirement account when you, your spouse or partner pass? When choosing your retirement plan it’s likely that you were asked to designate a beneficiary – the individual who would receive the money accrued in your retirement account in the event of your passing. As difficult as this may be to think about, it’s always best to be prepared for any contingency. Here are a few tips to consider when updating your beneficiary information.

Take Time to Review Your Account

When reviewing your retirement savings account, take time to consider your designated beneficiaries. This is an important step since retirement account assets typically are not governed by your will. Instead, the assets will pass to the beneficiaries named on the account, which is why it is of utmost importance to keep this information up to date.

Spousal Consent Notice

If you’re married, it is imperative that your spouse’s signature consent is signed in front of a notary public, or your plan administrator, to designate anyone besides your spouse as a beneficiary.

Life Changing Events

Remember to make changes to beneficiaries after any significant life event, including marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or any other milestones. If you’re unsure if something qualifies as a ‘life changing event’, your plan advisor will be happy to assist you. By keeping your beneficiary form up to date, you can ensure that your assets will be distributed as you intended.

As always, planning for retirement and keeping your plan up to date – even in the event of unforeseen adverse situations – is very important. Your plan advisor is here to help you through every step, so make sure to reach out at any time with questions.

 

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.

Looking to reduce your fiduciary risk as a plan sponsor? A little outside help can yield big reductions in risk, provide the best for the people on your company’s payroll, and help you feel good about your qualified retirement plan. Remember though, what’s good for the plan participants isn’t always best for the company – and as the plan sponsor, the company takes on substantial legal and financial liabilities. If you’re listed as the plan administrator, some of those liabilities accrue to you as well. Best practices suggests that any plan sponsor who doesn’t possess the technical knowledge and experience to manage investments consider hiring an advisor – and your choice of advisor can significantly lower your fiduciary risk.

Why hire a fiduciary?

Hiring an outside fiduciary can reduce some or most of that liability by putting the plan in the hands of a professional that affirmatively accepts fiduciary responsibility in section 3(21) and 3(38) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). These 3(21) and 3(38) fiduciaries are not stockbrokers; instead of taking commissions on investments purchased for your plan, they’re compensated by a stated fee. This helps reduce potential conflicts of interest in constructing and managing your plan’s investments.

What’s the difference between a 3(38) Fiduciary and a 3(21) Fiduciary?

There are two types of fiduciaries recognized under ERISA standards. A 3(21) fiduciary advises and makes recommendations, but as the plan sponsor still have ultimate responsibility for the legal operation of the plan and making plan-level investment choices. A 3(38) fiduciary takes over management of plan investments, makes investment choices, executes investments and monitors their performance. The 3(38) advisor is solely authorized to make (and is responsible for) those decisions. Because they have this responsibility, they can often be in a position to act more quickly in terms of making any changes to the plan, since such decisions need not go through the plan sponsor’s committee for any approval process. A 3(38) fiduciary may also be advantageous for smaller firms with fewer resources in their benefits department. Hiring a 3(21) fiduciary relieves the plan sponsor of part of the labor and part of the investment fiduciary responsibility, and provides the plan fiduciary a professional opinion in decision-making. A 3(38) fiduciary relieves the vast majority of the labor and almost all of the responsibilities. In short, whereas a 3(21) fiduciary advises and assists; a 3(38) fiduciary can function in a broader role for plan sponsors.

Remember – even if you hire a fiduciary, you’re still involved.

With a 3(38) fiduciary, the sponsor is still required to provide oversight of the fiduciary. Also, hiring a 3(38) fiduciary doesn’t relieve the sponsor from liability for poor investment decisions made by participants. However, ERISA Section 404(c) does create a “safe harbor” for plan sponsors if they meet specific requirements that include stipulations regarding investment selection, plan administration and certain disclosures.

What about Full Service Fiduciaries?

Firms that offer both 3(21) and 3(38) fiduciary services may also provide professional investment advice through staff or partnerships along with educational services to help meet the section 404(c) safe harbor standards. With the help of these outside professionals, you can lower your fiduciary risk by doing right by your employees while addressing all applicable regulations.

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

 

 

ACR# 327981 10/19

RETIREMENTTIMESNEWSLETTER   OCTOBER 1, 2019

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.

Many companies are outsourcing more and more activities, mainly because outsourcing can provide cost savings and increase productivity. Outsourcing allows companies to focus more on their core businesses, rather than spending time on areas outside their expertise. For retirement plan sponsors, outsourcing services makes sense for these reasons as well as others

Reduced Risks

As a plan sponsor, you and your company are plan fiduciaries, and can be held legally responsible for the plan’s administration and performance. Many sponsors outsource some or most responsibility. A 3(21) investment fiduciary assumes part of the risk, functioning as a co-fiduciary that provide prudent and objective advice. A 3(38) investment fiduciary accepts total responsibility and the lion’s share of potential liability for selecting, monitoring and replacing investment options, which helps the plan sponsor manage the risk of legal action concerning investment decisions. A true 3(16) outsourcing of the plan administrator role means offloading not only the day-to-day mechanics of plan administration, but the ultimate fiduciary responsibilities attendant thereto. That said, when plan sponsors contemplate outsourced 3(16) services they need to dive deep into contract review to understand what is actually being outsourced and what might remain in their hands.

Increased Objectivity
Independent third-party plan administration and fiduciary services help your retirement plan by managing conflicts of interest, biases or self-interest. As set out in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), both 3(21) and 3(38) investment fiduciaries, as well as 3(16) plan administrators, are required to act solely in the interest of plan participants and must act prudently when making decisions about, or administering, the plan. These actions provide plan sponsors and plan participants with a greater level of risk management and confidence in the retirement plan.

Increased Service Level
Typically, a third-party plan administrator or fiduciary can devote much more time and attention to the support of your retirement plan than can employees. Employees often ‘squeeze in’ plan-related tasks around their regular duties, and may lack the skills, training and resources that an outsourced provider offers.

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.