Displaying items by tag: 401(k)
Annuities have had a good 12 months and it is starting to seem like they are entering a golden age. Not only are the country’s demographics trending in favor of annuities, but the last year’s volatility and the recent rule change allowing annuities into 401(k)s are big tailwinds. Another big trend which helps is that since more and more companies are opting to offer 401(k) programs instead of DB plans, then people are ever more in need of guaranteed income. According to AIG, “It’s less about the vehicle. More plan sponsors and participants need to get comfortable with the creation of income … The only way to get guaranteed income is to annuitize retirement benefits. The question then is will annuities be offered in-plan or out-of-plan”.
FINSUM: The market and regulatory context are becoming better and better for utilizing annuities for clients. It might be time to think about these options if you aren’t already.
The SEC issued a pretty stern warning (or reminder, depending on how you look at it) to brokers this week. SEC chairman Jay Clayton issued a very direct statement addressing broker-dealers and saying that they needed to take “special care” when making 401(k)/IRA rollovers because form CRS, as part of Reg BI, would cover such transactions. Clayton also emphasized that 401(k)/IRA rollovers are considered a primary feature of the rule, saying that it was one of the “most significant enhancements over the status quo … should be approached with care”. He concluded “Firms should recognize that these recommendations are subject to Reg BI and ensure that their policies and procedures meet the requirements of Reg BI, the Advisers Act and Form CRS, as appropriate”.
FINSUM: Just in case anyone wasn’t clear, the SEC just made it abundantly obvious that there is no wiggle room here. The most interesting thing to us in this statement is how he seemed to indicate this will be the key focus of the SEC (which will likely be reflected in enforcement).
One of the small but important pillars of the recent years of the bull market has been Millennials beginning to invest. However, as this coronavirus meltdown has unfolded, that growing support for the market may evaporate. Millennials mostly invest in the market via retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, but given the huge layoffs occurring, they are likely to have to raid their retirement funds in order to get through these hard times. Because of this there is likely to be billions withdrawn from the market.
FINSUM: Millennials were a growing part of the market, but given their often precarious financial circumstances, it seems like their participation will be less for the next year or so.
For the first time since WWII, Americans are retiring in worse financial condition than the generations that preceded them. Those aged 55 to 70 are preparing to retire with the biggest financial burdens and lowest benefits since Truman was in office. Many have high debt, including paying off children’s tuitions and for aging parents. Their 401(k)s are in poor shape, with a median income of just $8,000 per year for a household of two. According to the study, which was conducted by the Wall Street Journal, more than 40% of American households headed to retirement lack the resources to maintain their current lifestyles. That is about 15m households.
FINSUM: We are having a hard time reconciling this with all the reports of how wealthy the Baby Boomer generation is, yet this comes from quite a reputable source. It must ultimately come down to wealth inequality within that generation.
The SEC’s new best interest rule has garnered a great deal of feedback. While on the whole the industry’s reception has been positive, there is some criticism and the view that the rule needs fine tuning, particularly in regards to the use of the “advisor” title. Well, there is apparently also a big loophole in the rule: there is no best interest standard for brokers providing advice to 401(k) sponsors because such sponsors to not fall under the SEC’s definition of a “retail” investor. According to the American Retirement Association, “The commission should clarify that the definition of retail customers include nonprofessional fiduciaries of retirement plans … Otherwise, what you have is an unlevel playing field”.
FINSUM: This seems like something the SEC just missed (especially because the loophole is created by two separate components not fitting well). We suspect this will be amended.