Issue Intro | Published in December 2016

Questions That Need Answering

We look back on 2016 and anticipate what is to come in 2017

By Judy Faust Hartnett | December 2016
PS1216_Cvr_Bill-MayerArt by Bill MeyerTo borrow from the title of this issue’s cover story, we are now in “A Time for Reflection.” The change in administration and its impact on the retirement industry is just one of several major developments that plan sponsors will need to think about over the coming months. In our story, we touch on a number of topics currently in flux, including the new fiduciary rule, money market shifts, fee lawsuits, revenue sharing, passive management, retirement income alternatives, allocation issues and financial wellness. In addition, John Keefe focuses on the year in review for defined benefits plans (page 40), and also discusses the growing popularity of white label funds in defined contribution (DC) plans. Where are we, as an industry, in relation to these topics, and what can we expect in 2017?
PLANSPONSOR columnist Stephen Saxon, a partner with Groom Law Group, Chartered, together with George Sepsakos, an associate with Groom, address in detail the elephant in the room: the new fiduciary rule. In “Here Comes Trump!” they run through various possibilities for the future of the rule, including their prediction that, as early as January 20, the new administration will seek to delay the applicability date. Beyond that, they believe that substantive changes to the rule are a distinct possibility.
Whatever Trump’s decision, Lisa Barton in this month’s DC Q&A article, “Advice and Education," explains what plan sponsors need to watch out for in relation to the rule, as many financial institutions have already announced they are adopting parts of it, including the best interest standard, and some service providers now take a fiduciary approach to working with plan sponsor clients.
Another big question is: How will Trump’s presidency affect employer-sponsored health benefits? The most recent Health Tracking Poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit focused on health policy, found an even split in the public’s opinion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Equal numbers of Americans—45%—said their view was either “favorable” or “unfavorable.” In “The Burden of Health Care,” Rebecca Moore discusses the likelihood that Trump could get the law repealed. Until the president-elect can create a new plan that covers the 20 million-plus Americans benefiting from the ACA—many of whom are employed by small businesses—how will his administration tackle what has become a deeply political issue?
An added bonus, this month, is a compilation of PLANSPONSOR’s proprietary research. “2016 PLANSPONSOR Research Year in Review” delivers excerpts from six surveys, with full data available at
We wish you season’s greetings, and all the best for the New Year!