401k Plan/Financial Wellness Education Best Practices

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Have you started planning your 2017 401k employee education sessions? Generally, most plan sponsors conduct employee education sessions during the early part of the new year to explain changes that went into effect on January 1. As you think about your 2017 education sessions, keep the following 401k education best practices in mind: [Read more…]

Top 10 401k Trends For 2017

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Competition for qualified employees is becoming intense. As a result, firms that you compete with for talent will be buffing up their benefits packages in 2017. Listed below are the changes that leading-edge employers will make to their 401k plans as a result of the most important 2017 401k trends. Although these 2017 401k trends are numbered, they are not shown in order of importance – all of these items are equally important. [Read more…]

Why Trump Won’t Roll Back New Fiduciary Regs

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

There have been significant differences of opinion on whether President-elect Trump will roll back the new fiduciary regulations set to go into effect on April 10, 2017. These fiduciary regulations, issued by the Department of Labor (DoL), require anyone working with retirement accounts to act as a fiduciary with regard to advice provided. I don’t believe the new Trump administration will cancel or roll back these fiduciary regulations. Here’s why. [Read more…]

Socially Responsible Investing Ratings Can Boost Your 401k’s Value

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Recently Morningstar, creator of the Morningstar Star Ratings for mutual funds, introduced Sustainability Ratings to gauge an investment’s adherence to SRI principles. 401k plan participants, millennials especially, have become interested in socially conscious and impact investing. A recent U.S. Trust survey found SRI factors are important to 93% of millennials when making an investment decision. Your 401k plan can have greater value to your employees if you begin sharing Morningstar’s Sustainability Ratings for your 401k investment options. [Read more…]

Did You Hire The Right 401k Investment Adviser?

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

As a 401k plan sponsor, you are probably aware that there are some new fiduciary regulations going into effect in April of 2017. You probably have spent some time wondering (worrying?) whether these regulations affect your relationship with the investment adviser or investment advisor who works with your 401k plan. They might. Here’s how to tell. [Read more…]

Roth 401k, Pre-Tax 401k, Or Both?

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 By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

401k plan participants often wonder whether they should contribute their hard-earned money to a Roth 401k or a pre-tax 401k account. Depending on their age and tax bracket, the answer may be both!

Many 401k plan participants have the option of making pre-tax 401k contributions and Roth 401k after-tax contributions. Roth 401k contributions (along with all accumulated earnings) can be withdrawn tax-free if distributed due to a qualifying event from a Roth 401k account that has been in existence for at least five years.

Pre-tax 401k contributions (and the associated earnings) are taxable when removed from a 401k plan. I have found that 401k participants are generally unclear on how they should choose between these two options. Following are some thoughts. [Read more…]

How Your 401k Participants Can Use Active Management

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

A passive portfolio management approach is appropriate for many 401k plan participants. But indexing isn’t right for everyone. Many 401k plan investors are not satisfied with market average returns. Nor do they feel it makes sense to lock-in 100% of every market decline. Many 401k plan participants believe they can consistently outperform market averages by applying a little of the right knowledge. Think there is no point to active management? Consider the following to make active management work in your 401k plan account: [Read more…]

How To Hire A 401k Investment Adviser

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Employer plan sponsors often ask me which investment adviser credentials are most important to look for when hiring a 401k investment adviser. As a 401k investment adviser myself, I have observed a number of plan sponsors hiring the wrong advisers because they aren’t looking at the right investment adviser credentials and are using an incorrect set of criteria to judge who is best.

Following are some universal, common sense criteria that plan sponsors can apply when hiring a 401k investment adviser along with important investment adviser credentials to evaluate. The information is divided into what I would consider the three major categories plan sponsors should evaluate: Fiduciary Responsibility, Firm and Background. [Read more…]

What Retirees Wish They Would Have Known

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Your employees have hopes and dreams about what their retirements will look like. Right now they are following a retirement planning path they hope will lead to a better way of life when they are no longer working. Unfortunately, there are many stumbling blocks and wrong turns they can experience on their journey. Recent studies have uncovered some important retiree regrets that you can share with your employees in your 401k education sessions to help make their paths to retirement more successful. [Read more…]

What Plan Sponsors Need To Do NOW In Response To 401k Money Market Fund Rules

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 By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

The large mutual fund families are doing everything possible to keep you from moving your 401k money market investments away. BlackRock, Federated, Fidelity and Vanguard have all announced changes to their money market fund offerings which they hope will allow them to retain existing 401k money market balances. These changes are in response to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) 401k money market fund reform rules outlined below. [Read more…]