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Our Perspective

August Annuity Purchase Update 2022

Pension Risk Transfer market activity was vigorous thus far in 2022, with a 71% surge in total premium compared to the first half of 2021.

Law firm files a series of complaints targeting use of BlackRock TDF

Recently, participants and former participants in some of the largest 401(k) plans in the US have sued plan fiduciaries claiming that the use of one of the largest target date funds, the BlackRock LifePath Funds, was imprudent, because those funds “underperformed” alleged “comparators.”

These sorts of fiduciary imprudence/TDF underperformance claims have emerged as a second major line of attack (after the attack on fund and recordkeeping fees that began in the early 2000s) by plaintiffs lawyers on 401(k) plan fiduciaries.

July 2022 Pension Finance Update

Pension finance enjoyed a strong month in July due to rising stock markets. Both model plans1 we track gained ground last month: Plan A improved almost 2% and is now up 4% for the year, while the more conservative Plan B added 1% and is now down less than 1% through the first seven months of 2022:

Post-Hughes v. Northwestern – plaintiffs win in three motion-to-dismiss decisions

On January 24, 2022, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court vacated the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Hughes v. Northwestern – an ERISA prudence case implicating a number of issues that have been raised in 401(k) fee litigation. The Court rejected the Seventh Circuit’s reliance on the availability of lower cost alternatives as a defense to claims that the cost of certain funds and of plan recordkeeping was unreasonably high, remanding the case for consideration under the rule in Tibble v. Edison, that a fiduciary has an obligation to remove imprudent investments.

Retirement income and inflation – April 2022 update

Until 2021, the main drivers of retirement finance/retirement income were interest rates and asset performance. The other variable affecting nominal performance, mortality, has been (and is expected to continue to be) relatively stable.

SECURE 2.0 Approved by House in 414-5 vote

On March 29, 2022, the House of Representatives, by a nearly unanimous (414-5) vote, approved the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2022 (SECURE 2.0). The bill represents a synthesis of the Ways and Means Committee’s Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021 and the Education and Labor Committee’s RISE Act.

Outlook 2022 – The Retirement Policy agenda – Highlights

In this article, we briefly consider the 2022 retirement policy legislative, regulatory, and litigation agenda. Most of these issues are carryovers from 2021, and we have discussed them at length elsewhere. We are, therefore, going to keep our preview of 2022 brief, focusing on the “highlights,” and providing links to our prior, more comprehensive treatment.

Multiemployer Plan Withdrawal Liability: DC Circuit Says Discount Rate Used for Withdrawal Liability Must be Similar to Discount Rate Used for Funding

On July 8, 2022, a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of a lower court in United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan v. Energy West Mining Company, ordering that the discount rate used to calculate multiemployer pension plan withdrawal liability must be similar to the discount rate the Enrolled Actuary uses in performing funding calculations for the plan. In doing so, the DC Circuit joins the Sixth Circuit (see our article Multiemployer plan withdrawal liability: Sixth Circuit strikes down “Segal Blend”) in coming to this conclusion. This is welcome news for contributing employers that withdraw from multiemployer pension plans.

July 2022 Annuity Purchase Update

Annuity Purchase interest rates hit a record high as of July 1 2022, with the average duration 7 and 15 rates over 4%.

July 2022 legislative update – review of key bipartisan retirement policy reform proposals

On March 29, 2022, the House of Representatives, by a 414-5 vote, approved the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2022 (SECURE 2.0), a synthesis of the Ways and Means Committee’s Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021 and the Education and Labor Committee’s RISE Act. On June 14, 2022, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, by a voice vote, passed the Retirement Improvement and Savings Enhancement to Supplement Healthy Investments for the Nest Egg Act (the RISE & SHINE Act). And, on June 22, 2022, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved the Enhancing American Retirement Now (EARN) Act. In what follows we provide a brief summary of certain key provisions of these three bills.

June 2022 Pension Finance Update

Stocks tumbled again in June, driving the worst month of the year for pension finance. Both model plans1 we track lost ground last month: Plan A lost more than 3% but remains up 2% for the year, while the more conservative Plan B lost 1%, ending the first half of 2022 down 1%

Senate Finance Chair releases outline of broad, bipartisan retirement legislation

On June 17, 2022, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) released an outline of the bipartisan Enhancing American Retirement Now (EARN) Act. The Committee is expected to take up this legislation beginning the week of June 20. The EARN Act, together with the Retirement Improvement and Savings Enhancement to Supplement Healthy Investments for the…Read More