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Vestwell Works with Dimensional Fund Advisors to Optimize Retirement Income Planning

 

 

Advisors can utilize Dimensional’s Retirement Income Calculator to better assess the retirement readiness of their clients

NEW YORK, September 25, 2018—Vestwell, a digital retirement platform, today announced the addition of a new retirement income tool from Dimensional Fund Advisors(Dimensional), a global investment firm. Dimensional’s My Retirement Income Calculator is now fully integrated into Vestwell’s advisor and participant portals, giving advisors unique insight into how their clients are saving and enabling them to better support participants’ retirement income readiness.

The calculator, available to Vestwell advisors who utilize Dimensional funds, is designed to enhance their retirement offerings by allowing them to bring a more customized approach to employee retirement programs. The calculator gives advisors a clear line of sight into how much in-retirement income their clients might be able to afford. The income projections offered by the My Retirement Income Calculator also consider asset allocation shifts over time to help improve the reliability of those estimates.

“Vestwell was built to help advisors better service their clients, and Dimensional’s calculator perfectly supports that mission,” said Aaron Schumm, Founder and CEO of Vestwell. “Thanks to the integration ofthe My Retirement Income Calculator, Vestwell advisors can better assess the impact of their clients’ savings and investment decisions, allowing them to collaborate with clients to better maximize the chances of achieving desired retirement goals.”

“We’re excited to be working with Vestwell to offer the full functionality of our My Retirement Income Calculator, and thrilled that together we can help enhance the way advisors engage with their clients on retirement income,” said Dave Butler, Co-CEO and Head of Global Financial Advisor Services at Dimensional.

About Vestwell Holdings, Inc.

Vestwell is a digital platform that makes it easier to offer and administer 401(k) plans. Vestwell removes traditional friction points through seamless plan design, automated onboarding, streamlined administration, and flexible investment strategies, all at competitive pricing. By acting as a single point of contact, Vestwell has modernized the retirement offering while keeping the plan sponsor’s and plan participant’s best interests in mind. Learn more at Vestwell.com and on Twitter @Vestwell.

About Dimensional Fund Advisors

Dimensional is a leading global investment firm that has been translating academic research into practical investment solutions since 1981. Guided by a strong belief in markets, the firm helps investors pursue higher expected returns through advanced implementation. With clients around the world, Dimensional has 13 offices in nine countries and global assets under management of $582 billion as of June 30, 2018. Learn more at us.dimensional.com.

2018 Retirement Trends Report: Advisor and Plan Sponsor Perceptions

 

Vestwell’s 2018 Retirement Trends Survey highlights key sentiments of advisors and plan sponsors as they relate to selling, adopting, and maintaining plans.

Did you know:

  • 57% of advisors see growing their client base as their biggest priority
  • 35% of advisors think the biggest mistake plan sponsors make during plan selection is not knowing what they’re paying for
  • 37% of plan sponsors list filings, taxes, and compliance activities as their biggest pain point
  • and more…

To view the report in its entirety, click here.

ERISA Bonds vs. Fiduciary Insurance

By Allison Brecher, General Counsel, Vestwell

With so much attention lately on fiduciary duty, as well as the surge of fiduciary litigation this past year, plan sponsors would be wise to explore their insurance options. While the ERISA fidelity bond (also referred to as a “fidelity bond” or “ERISA bond”), is required for all plans, there are other options as well. By understanding the difference – and the scenarios in which different types of insurance are used – you can help ensure your plan sponsors are properly protected.

The fidelity bond, required by ERISA, protects the plan against losses due to theft and embezzlement. Here’s an easy example: if someone steals money from the 401(k) plan, the ERISA bond compensates the plan for the damages. However, this provides no protection to the plan sponsor because the plan, not the sponsor, is the named insured. Not to mention how limited the application of this bond might be, given the unlikely scenario.

Still, the bond is legally required for anyone who “handles plan assets” (whether a fiduciary or not), and not having one can delay your plan’s Form 5500 filing and potentially result in disqualification, penalties, and personal liability for fiduciaries. Investment managers must have one, but advisors are not required to be bonded unless they make financial decisions about the plan assets or property.

An ERISA bond is easy and relatively inexpensive to obtain; sponsors using Vestwell can apply for one directly from our platform. However, it’s worth noting that the bond must be in an amount of at least 10% of the plan’s assets, and, since it’s been a good year for investment performance, sponsors should make sure their bond amount has kept pace with the plan’s growth in assets.

Some sponsors mistakenly believe they are protected on all fronts by the ERISA fidelity bond, but further protection may be needed. Fiduciary insurance, unlike an ERISA bond, is not included in a typical errors and omissions or directors and officers policy. Fiduciary insurance, as the name suggests, protects the fiduciary from damages that result from a fiduciary breach. Read the fine print on the insurance before moving forward because a fiduciary policy can cover litigation costs, foreign plans that are subject to laws similar to ERISA, and the cost of correcting plan compliance errors resulting from a fiduciary breach. Although fiduciary insurance is technically “optional,” we don’t believe a sponsor should leave anything to chance in the current litigation climate.

Mostly, it’s important for plan sponsors to know the coverage that exists to protect them and their participants, understand the liability they’re taking on, and be comfortable with the decisions they’re making. They’ll be looking to you for help.

“A” Solution, But Not Quite “The” Solution

By Allison Brecher, General Counsel, Vestwell

As speculation mounts over President Trump’s planned appearance in Charlotte tomorrow, the expectation is that the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2018 (RESA) will soon be signed into law. While Vestwell believes strongly in the spirit of the bill and what it’s trying to accomplish – making good retirement plans affordable and accessible to companies of all sizes – the bill fails to solve many retirement plan challenges.

Small businesses haven’t historically embraced 401(k)’s out of concerns for fiduciary liability exposure, litigation, fees, and administrative burdens, amongst others. RESA turns to Multiple Employer Plans (MEPs) as a solution because MEPs allow small employers to pool together to share expenses. The belief is that small businesses will be more likely to offer retirement plans once they can offload some fiduciary responsibility and enjoy traditionally “large plan” costs.

Unfortunately, there are still some shortcomings in the bill that lead to missed opportunities and confusion. The main ones we’ve identified are around:

Fiduciary responsibility. While the bill states that fiduciary responsibility can be offloaded, some would argue that is already the case today with a 3(38) offering. It is unclear whether the new bill would offload liability of all responsibilities – such as the responsibility of the plan sponsor to select an un-conflicted provider – but doing so would require a re-write of ERISA laws rather than just a notation in a new provision. In addition, it is not clear who – if not the plan sponsor – is responsible for protecting the plan against conflicts of interest, prohibited transactions, and other such obligations.

Lead participant employer role. What exactly is the role of the lead participant employer? How do they get selected and evaluated? Are they compensated and, if so, how much and who decides? And how does insurance account for this unique role? Without a clear outline of the lead participant role, it is hard to envision the way companies decide to – and continue to – work together.

General retirement plan shortcomings. Unfortunately, a more “fair” cost doesn’t give plan sponsors a better understanding of what they’re getting with a retirement plan. In many cases, fees are buried, service offerings unclear, and administrative burdens cumbersome. The bill does not address any of these challenges.

The good news is, options exist to better support small plan sponsors even without RESA. The advent of tech-forward retirement platforms (like Vestwell) bring solutions to the issues of cost, fiduciary responsibility, administrative burden, and transparency. They also address many of the challenges of RESA. Because a modern-day retirement platform doesn’t require the pooling of resources, a plan sponsor can enjoy custom plan designs and pricing, tailored to its workforce, rather than having to compromise based off the collective needs of the MEP. And since technology automates many expensive processes, plan sponsors are afforded economies of scale comparable to (if not better than) what an MEP would bring. As a result, a company can benefit from the personalization, strong customer service, competitive pricing, fiduciary oversight, and transparency that all plan sponsors and participants deserve.

So, while it is our mission to support the healthy retirement of all Americans, we want to ensure they don’t just have access to a plan… but that they have access to the right one.

Maximize Savings with a Safe Harbor Plan…And Soon

Safe harbor 401(k) plans can be a win-win for employers who want to maximize tax savings and retain employees. There is still time to reap the benefits for 2018.

1. Safe harbor basics

A safe harbor is like a traditional 401(k), but the employer must contribute, and contributions become fully vested when made. Contributions can either be limited to employees who make deferrals or offered to all eligible employees.

2. The trade-off may be worth it

Unlike traditional 401(k) plans, safe harbor plans automatically pass a number of required tests in order to keep your plan tax qualified and avoid other penalties and costs. These plans can be a great choice for small businesses that may have trouble passing nondiscrimination testing. For example, a family-owned or small business with more highly compensated employees relative to “rank and file” or non-highly compensated employees may otherwise have difficulty passing compliance tests.

3. More good news

The business owner can contribute the maximum annual deferral amount to his/her own 401(k) plan ($18,500 plus any catch up contributions), receive additional savings from the company’s matching contributions (they’re an “employee” too) and, come tax time, the business can deduct all matching contributions (up to the $55,000 IRS limit).

4. There is still time to maximize the savings for 2018

Safe harbor plans must be in effect three months prior to the plan year-end date, which means eligible employees must be able to make salary deferrals starting no later than the payroll period that ends on or after October 1 of the plan’s first year.  This means plan sponsors must make decision and sign necessary documentation by September 1.

5. If you already have a plan, you can take advantage too!

If you offer a different plan, but would like to take advantage of Safe Harbor benefits, here are dates to know:

  • By or before November 30, 2018: Your provider can amend your plan or start a new plan with a safe harbor provision for the following year
  • December 1, 2018: Your employees receive a 30-day notice of plan revisions
  • January 1, 2019: Safe Harbor provision takes effect and exempts the plan from nondiscrimination testing

Overall, there are benefits to any type of retirement offering, but a safe harbor plan can be a smart decision for many companies, particularly for small business owners. If you have any questions about whether a safe harbor plan is right for you, reach out to info@vestwell.com at any time.