If it hasn’t started already, you’ll likely soon be inundated with questions and concerns about the market’s — and your firm’s — response to COVID-19. You may be contacted by plan sponsors, participants and coworkers en masse, all trying to figure out how to best navigate the crisis.
Live-bid benchmarking is a necessity for advisors who want to ensure they’re meeting their fiduciary obligations. But while traditional methods are necessary, they’re not sufficient to meet all the needs of today’s retirement plan advisor.
Economic downturns aren’t good news for anyone, but for plan sponsors and fiduciaries, they can signal double trouble as the harbinger of looming litigation. After the financial meltdown of 2008, the number of 401(k) complaints filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) spiked to a high of 107. The number of new lawsuits dwindled to just two filings in 2013 before rising again. Experts fear the COVID-19 crisis could spawn a rash of new class-action 401(k) lawsuits from participants unhappy with the present state of their investments.
As part of the CARES Act, plan sponsors can now offer coronavirus-related distributions (CRDs) as a means to offer participants greater access to their retirement funds and help deal with hardships associated with COVID-19. This option waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty for participants under age 59 1/2 for amounts up to $100,000 on 401(k)s or IRAs taken between January 1 and December 31st of 2020.
Q: What Do All of These Have in Common?
On March 27th, 2020 the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. Watch our video below to learn more from industry-renowned ERISA attorney Joel Shapiro, SVP, RPAG about the impact of this new law on plan sponsors and participants.
As we live longer, more employees are staying in the workforce beyond their anticipated retirement date, a trend that demographers expect to continue until near the end of this decade.1 While some workers voluntarily choose to continue working, for many, staying in the workforce is a necessity. When surveyed, 57% of finance executives said they believed delayed retirement was primarily due to inadequate savings, forcing employees to stay on the job past their desired retirement date.2
By now, you’ve heard the words “unprecedented,” “uncharted territory” and “uncertainty” enough to last a lifetime. The stock market has seen jaw-dropping volatility, but the American economy has faced seismic slowdowns, market downturns and uncertainty before.
And it has always recovered.
When the herd is on the move, the natural instinct is to think, “Maybe I should be running with them.” But it’s hard to know if they’re headed for safety or over a cliff. The coronavirus outbreak has certainly had a historic and pronounced effect on markets, and the psychology of investors, but the length and severity of the current downturn is unclear. And that uncertainty is what underlies some of the market’s dramatic gyrations. As an advisor, you may have sponsors and participants who are worried that the COVID-19 pandemic will turn into a financial panic.
Think back to your high school physics class. If you’re reading this article, you’re most likely a retirement plan advisor and not a rocket engineer, so we’re guessing that you don’t remember that class very well. If you are a rocket engineer, we apologize. Also… that’s awesome!