Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Q3 Market Recap: The Federal Reserve Past and Present

The longest bull market in history continues to run through Q3. 

Investors remain focused on three key areas: trade conflict, slowing global economic growth and the Federal Reserve monetary policy. Under the successive leadership of three chairs, the Fed has fostered the longest economic expansion in U.S. history.

Read the Q3 Market Recap to learn more about the recent history of bull markets, as well as the Q3 market drivers. Also included is an overview of key year-end notices plan sponsors may need to provide to employees according to IRS and DOL regulations.

If you have any questions, or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by calling (855) 882-9177 or e-mail us at sbs@hanys.org.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

You’ve Been Put on Notice

As we enter the fourth quarter of 2019, it’s important for sponsors of calendar year retirement plans to be mindful of certain required participant notices. Sponsors of qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k) or 403(b) plans, may need to provide several of these notices per various Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor regulations.

Notice
Purpose
Audience
General Deadline
Deadline for Calendar Year Plans
Qualified Default Investment Alternative
Informs of the plan’s default investment in the event the participant does not make an investment election.  Helps maintain 404(c) protection.
Active eligibles and terminated participants
At least 30 days ahead of plan year
Dec. 2
Automatic Contribution Arrangement
Informs of the plan's feature to automatically enroll participants to a default savings rate in the plan and the potential “refundability” of deferrals.
Active eligibles
30 to 90 days ahead of plan year
Dec. 2
Safe Harbor
Informs of the plan's intent to provide a safe harbor contribution, alongside other key plan provision details.
Active eligibles
30 to 90 days ahead of plan year
Dec. 2
Universal Availability
Informs 403(b) participants about the opportunity to establish or change their salary deferrals in the plan.
Active eligibles
Annually
Dec. 31
Plan and Investment Fee Disclosure
Summarizes fees that may be paid from participant accounts or withheld by investment companies.
Active eligibles and terminated participants
Every 14 months
Depends on timing of prior mailing
Summary Annual Report
Summarizes the plan's key financial and administrator information with respect to the prior year's Form 5500 filing.
Active and terminated participants
60 days following the plan’s regular or extended Form 5500 filing deadline
Sept. 30 or Dec. 16

Sponsors with calendar year plans that extended their Form 5500 deadline to Oct. 15 may be able to align the delivery of any applicable notices into a single mailing event.

In addition to the above notices, plans must provide a Summary of Material Modifications to participants no later than 210 days following the plan year in which an amendment was effective. Alternatively, providing an updated Summary Plan Description satisfies this requirement. Updated SPDs are required to be provided every five years if material changes are made or every 10 years if no material changes have been made. If you recently amended or restated your plan document, this upcoming annual notice mailing may provide an opportunity to satisfy the SMM/SPD requirement as part of the same mailing.

While the DOL and IRS each have rules for distributing these notices electronically, abiding by the rules can be challenging. Newly proposed DOL e-delivery regulations are a welcome development, but until they can be fully unpacked, mailing paper notices is the safest bet for those delivered in 2019. Electronic delivery of such notices is permitted where a participant has affirmatively consented to such delivery.

It’s important to note that in addition to the annual requirements, these notices should be provided to employees in your plan enrollment materials before or coincident with each participant’s eligibility for the plan.

Finally, there may be other participant notices that apply for defined benefit plans, other benefit plans or for situations such as plan terminations, blackout periods and disclosure of electronic statement delivery. Be sure to work with your service providers and make sure all applicable notices are mailed out as required by the IRS and DOL.

If you have any questions, or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by calling (855) 882-9177 or e-mail us at sbs@hanys.org.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Q2 Market Recap: Powell's "Porridge"

The Fed defines success for monetary policy as when the economy is like Goldilocks’ porridge — not too hot and not too cold. Investors have enjoyed Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s “Porridge” several times in 2019 as we ushered in the longest bull market in history.

Read the Q2 Market Recap to learn more about the porridge-like conditions during Q2. Also included is update on the current buzz around a Multiple Employer Plan (MEP).

If you have any questions, or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by calling (855) 882-9177 or e-mail us at sbs@hanys.org.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Strategic Benefit Services expands into the small to mid-sized market

After 40 years of providing retirement plan advisory services to large institutions, Strategic Benefit Services is taking its experience and expertise to the smaller end of the market.

Though employers with assets under $10 million may not have the same resources as larger organizations, they do have the same responsibilities and objectives: a fiduciary duty to conduct plan business in a prudent fashion and the need to offer an attractive and competitive retirement plan for their employees.

“We believe sponsors in the smaller end of the market are often underserved and may not be getting the proper fiduciary oversight,” said James Kelley, president of Strategic Benefit Services. “With our new service offering, we are looking to relieve some of their administrative burden, fiduciary responsibilities and operating expenses.” SBS has created a solution that largely shifts the fiduciary and administrative burdens to third parties while crafting a lower cost, institutionally structured retirement program.

About Strategic Benefit Services

SBS has been providing retirement services to leading healthcare, not-for-profit and corporate organizations for more than four decades. SBS provides trusted advisory and consulting services, including plan design, vendor management, investment selection and monitoring, operational oversight, and on-site education and communication. SBS also provides services in support of employer mergers and acquisitions, defined benefit plan de-risking strategies and other complex matters including Department of Labor and IRS audits. Named a PlanAdviser Top 100 Retirement Plan Adviser for 2016, 2017 and 2019, SBS conducts business in accordance with strong values in a manner that is in the best interests of its clients, with an ultimate goal of assuring clients’ employees are ready for retirement.

SBS is headquartered near Albany, with offices in Rochester, Tonawanda and Melville, New York.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Q1 Market Recap: Equities deliver a convincing head fake

The fourth quarter of 2018 ended with significant market volatility. Yet, the U.S. equity performance was in recovery mode in the first quarter of 2019.

In March, we witnessed the ten-year anniversary of the bull market for equities, making it the longest bull market on record. In hindsight, the sharp sell-off in the fourth quarter looks like a head fake for investors.

Read the Q1 Market Recap to learn more about the dramatic recovery for the start of 2019. Also included is a legislative and regulatory update on what's happening in the retirement market.

If you have any questions, or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by calling (855) 882-9177 or e-mail us at sbs@hanys.org.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

WEBINAR: Doing Good While Doing Well

More and more investors are seeking to combine their personal values with their investment decisions without sacrificing long-term results. But how important should the focus on socially responsible investing strategies be?

Join us on May 14 at 11 a.m. for Doing Good While Doing Well, a free webinar that explores socially responsible investing. Attending this webinar with Strategic Benefit Services and Nixon Peabody will help you determine if socially responsible, or ESG, investing makes sense in your retirement plan. Learn more about:
  • the potential value of ESG investing to investors and plan sponsors;
  • ESG investment fund ratings and reporting standards;
  • fiduciary oversight challenges for ESG investing and compliance best practices; and
  • key tools and resources for consideration.

PRESENTERS:
William Desormeau 
Vice President, Strategic Benefit Services

Bill is responsible for providing financial and investment advisory services on retirement plans.


Eric Paley
Partner, Nixon Peabody

Eric Paley advises clients on how to comply with the laws governing their employee benefits programs

Friday, April 12, 2019

New Whitepaper: Doing Good While Doing Well

Plan fiduciaries are seeing increased interest in socially responsible, or impact, investing as an option in their plan offerings.

Socially responsible investing began as a practice of negative screening or avoiding companies that profit from alcohol, tobacco, gambling, firearms, or similarly perceived categories. It has since evolved and expanded in focus to represent environmental, social and governance issues.

Many investors question the balance between focusing on making socially responsible investments and planning for long-term successful results. Can both be achieved, or does a focus on ESG mean a sacrifice of portfolio performance?

This new whitepaper addresses that question, while reviewing the origins, evolutions and performance indicators of socially responsible investments. Download “Doing Good While Doing Well” to learn more. To begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by email or by calling (855) 882-9177.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Federal vs. New York family and medical leave laws – Part 4

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees of covered employers with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

In addition to the federal FMLA, New York has laws regarding pregnancy leave, adoptive parents leave, blood donation leave, bone marrow donation leave, military spouse leave and paid family leave (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

The comparison chart below concludes our review of federal vs. New York family and medical leave laws. This chart reviews leave requests, certification requirements, as well as other laws.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Federal vs. New York family and medical leave laws – Part 3

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees of covered employers with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

In addition to the federal FMLA, New York has laws regarding pregnancy leave, adoptive parents leave, blood donation leave, bone marrow donation leave, military spouse leave and paid family leave (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

The comparison chart below continues our review of federal vs. New York family and medical leave laws regarding an intermittent leave, reinstatement rights and the maintenance of health benefits during leave.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Federal vs. New York family and medical leave laws – Part 2


The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees of covered employers with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

In addition to the federal FMLA, New York has laws regarding pregnancy leave, adoptive parents leave, blood donation leave, bone marrow donation leave, military spouse leave and paid family leave (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

The comparison chart below continues our review of federal vs. New York family and medical leave laws regarding the type of leave and criteria for a serious health condition/serious injury or illness.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Federal vs. New York family and medical leave laws – Part 1

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees of covered employers with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. For example, under the FMLA, eligible employees may take leave for their own serious health conditions, for the serious health conditions of family members, to bond with newborns or newly adopted children or for certain military family reasons.

In addition to providing eligible employees with an entitlement to leave, the FMLA requires that employers maintain employees’ health benefits during leave and restore employees to their same or equivalent job positions after leave ends. The FMLA also sets requirements for notices, by both the employee and the employer, and provides employers with the right to require certification of the need for FMLA leave in certain circumstances.

In addition to the federal FMLA, New York has laws regarding pregnancy leave, adoptive parents leave, blood donation leave, bone marrow donation leave, military spouse leave and paid family leave (effective Jan. 1, 2018). Review the comparison chart below to learn more regarding the types of employers covered, employees eligible and leave amount.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

2019 ACA compliance overview — Employer shared responsibility rules

The Affordable Care Act has made significant changes to group health plans since it was enacted in 2010. Many of these key reforms became effective in 2014 and 2015, including health plan design changes, increased wellness program incentives and employer shared responsibility penalties.

Changes to some ACA requirements, such as increased dollar limits, take effect in 2019 for employers sponsoring group health plans. To prepare for 2019, employers should review upcoming requirements and develop a compliance strategy.

This article provides an overview of the employer shared responsibility rules.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Strategic Benefit Services named a PLANADVISER Top 100 Retirement Plan Adviser for the 3rd time

PLANADVISER has named Strategic Benefit Services as one of its 2019 Top 100 Retirement Plan Advisers. PLANADVISER’s Top 100 Retirement Plan Advisers is an annual list of the retirement plan advisers and adviser teams at the top of their respective peer groups in terms of assets under advisement or number of retirement plan clients—including sponsors of defined contribution, defined benefit and nonqualified plans.

“SBS is honored to be again recognized by PLANADVISER,” said James J. Kelley, president, SBS. “We are also grateful to our clients for continuously placing their trust in us. We strive to build real relationships with our clients, creating a shared fiduciary responsibility with the companies we advise.”

SBS is categorized by PLANADVISER as a large team, having met this year’s eligibility standards of $3.5 billion or more retirement plan assets under advisement or 200 or more plans. SBS was previously named to PLANADVISER’s list in 2017 and 2016. SBS has been providing retirement services to leading healthcare, not-for-profit and corporate organizations for more than four decades. We provide trusted advisory and consulting services including plan design, vendor management, investment selection and monitoring, operational oversight, and on-site education and communication. SBS also provides services in support of employer mergers and acquisitions, defined benefit plan de-risking strategies and other complex matters including DOL and IRS audits. SBS conducts business in accordance with our values, in a manner that is in the best interests of our clients, with an ultimate goal of assuring our clients’ employees are ready for retirement.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

2019 ACA compliance overview — SBC and HIPAA

The Affordable Care Act has made significant changes to group health plans since it was enacted in 2010. Many of these key reforms became effective in 2014 and 2015, including health plan design changes, increased wellness program incentives and employer shared responsibility penalties.

Changes to some ACA requirements, such as increased dollar limits, take effect in 2019 for employers sponsoring group health plans. To prepare for 2019, employers should review upcoming requirements and develop a compliance strategy.

This article provides an overview of requirements for Summary of Benefits and Coverage and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act certification documents.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

2019 ACA compliance overview — Cost-sharing limits

The Affordable Care Act has made significant changes to group health plans since it was enacted in 2010. Many of these key reforms became effective in 2014 and 2015, including health plan design changes, increased wellness program incentives and employer shared responsibility penalties.

Changes to some ACA requirements, such as increased dollar limits, take effect in 2019 for employers sponsoring group health plans. To prepare for 2019, employers should review upcoming requirements and develop a compliance strategy.

This article provides an overview of cost-sharing limits applicable to non-grandfathered plans.

Friday, February 8, 2019

2019 ACA compliance overview — Plan design changes

The Affordable Care Act has made significant changes to group health plans since it was enacted in 2010. Many of these key reforms became effective in 2014 and 2015, including health plan design changes, increased wellness program incentives and employer shared responsibility penalties.

Changes to some ACA requirements, such as increased dollar limits, take effect in 2019 for employers sponsoring group health plans. To prepare for 2019, employers should review upcoming requirements and develop a compliance strategy.

This article provides an overview of plan design changes for grandfathered plans and an update on FSA contributions.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Q4 Market Recap: “Bookends” of volatility in 2018

The year 2018 ended as it began, with significant market volatility. Some market analysts believe the combination of algorithmic trading and the elimination of the uptick rule may be contributing factors. Ironically, some volatility is a necessary evil for investors who view a stake in equities as essential to reaching their longterm goals.

Read the Q4 Market Recap to learn more about the individual periods of market volatility throughout 2018 and the root cause behind them.

If you have any questions, or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by calling (855) 882-9177 or e-mail us at sbs@hanys.org.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Congratulations to Cobleskill Regional Hospital

Congratulations to Cobleskill Regional Hospital on being named a finalist for PLANSONSOR’s 2019 Plan Sponsor of the Year in the nonprofit defined contribution <$250 million category!

The Plan Sponsor of the Year annual award program recognizes retirement plan sponsors that show a commitment to their participants’ financial health and retirement success.

Strategic Benefit Services is proud of all that you have accomplished!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

7 questions employees should ask about Paid Family Leave

1. If I started my continuous leave in 2018 and it extends into 2019, am I eligible for the benefits at the 2019 rate and an extra two weeks?

You get the benefit rate and number of weeks in effect on the first day of your leave.

2. If I started my intermittent leave in 2018 and it extends into 2019, am I eligible for the benefits at the 2019 rate and an extra two weeks?

You get the benefit rate and number of weeks in effect on the first day of a period of leave. When more than three months passes between days of Paid Family Leave, your next day or period of Paid Family Leave is considered a new claim under the law. This means you will need to file a new Request for Paid Family Leave and that you may be eligible for the increased benefits available should this day or period of Paid Family Leave begin in 2019.

3. I had a new baby in the fall of 2018. Can still take Paid Family Leave in 2019 to get the enhanced benefits?

Yes, you can take Paid Family Leave for bonding with a new child at any time within the first 12 months of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement, provided that you remain an eligible, covered employee.


To read all 7 question and answers, click here for a downloadable version. Questions and answers can also be found on paidfamilyleave.ny.gov.

If you have any questions, or would like to begin talking to an employee benefits consultant, please get in touch by email or by calling (855) 882-9177.

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