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Organizational leaders have a lot on their plates. The business and economic climates are challenging. The labor market and stock market aren’t making things easy. Supply chain issues continue to linger. None of those issues directly relate to their responsibilities as retirement plan fiduciaries.

However, the pace of change in the retirement plan industry suggests that plan sponsors and fiduciaries need access to information that will help them to: (i) comply with their fiduciary responsibilities; (ii) ask the right questions of their service providers; (iii) understand the additional participant tools and resources available in the marketplace; and (iv) implement those solutions in a way that will help to attract new employees, retain existing employees, and improve their overall financial wellbeing.

During our upcoming ERISA Attorney Talk will bring together five members of QPA’s team – including four ERISA Attorneys – to provide that information. This month’s newsletter provides a preview of those topics, including a recent lawsuit filed against the Department of Labor (DOL) in relation to its cryptocurrency guidance.

Fiduciary Responsibilities and Market Volatility. The last several years of market performance have made things relatively smooth for fiduciaries who follow a consistent investment review and monitoring process. However, 2022 has brought about choppiness and forward-looking concerns that many fiduciaries haven’t faced in some time. During next week’s live event, we’ll discuss QPA’s approach to monitoring investment options and explain how the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Hughes v. Northwestern University confirms the ongoing responsibilities regarding a plan’s investment options. The short answer: lower courts seem to be applying Hughes more broadly – in the favor of plaintiffs – than the Supreme Court likely intended.

Headline-Grabbing Investment Categories. Cryptocurrency and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investments continue to get a lot of attention. We’ll provide an update on the DOL’s latest crypto guidance and discuss a lawsuit filed against the DOL in response. As plan fiduciaries seek to respond to participant and/or market demand to add additional investment vehicles, we can arm fiduciaries with information and encourage patience in response.

Plan Document Requirements. The widespread move to prototype or volume submitter plan documents means that many plans have recently experienced or are about to experience the end of their six-year window to restate their plans. Because many of the document providers do not describe those restated document’s changes in sufficient detail, plan sponsors are encountering some surprises. We’ll discuss various plan document issues, including notice requirements implicated by the provision of any discretionary matching contributions.

Additional Participant Tools. Student loan debt relief. In-plan guaranteed income. Managed accounts. Participants are demonstrating increased demand and appreciation for these resources. Employers are responding to that demand by implementing strategies to make their benefit plans and various features a key part of talent acquisition and retention. We’ll elaborate on some of those strategies and discuss approaches for implementation and communication.

Closing Thoughts. We have a lot of guidance on the table. Litigation. Regulations. A DOL Compliance Assistance Release. CARES Act and SECURE Act issues. We’re looking forward to taking a deeper dive on these items with you. We will see you on June 16.

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