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401(k) Fridays Podcast

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The 401(k) Fridays podcast offers companies of all sizes free strategic, educational and actionable content to improve their retirement plans. My name is Rick Unser and I am your host. All episodes leverage my nearly two decades of experience working with employers to bring you candid interviews with industry experts, new best practices and valuable perspectives on current events. To learn more, please visit www.401kfridays.com

The 401(k) Fridays podcast offers companies of all sizes free strategic, educational and actionable content to improve their retirement plans. My name is Rick Unser and I am your host. All episodes leverage my nearly two decades of experience working with employers to bring you candid interviews with industry experts, new best practices and valuable perspectives on current events. To learn more, please visit www.401kfridays.com
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The 401(k) Fridays podcast offers companies of all sizes free strategic, educational and actionable content to improve their retirement plans. My name is Rick Unser and I am your host. All episodes leverage my nearly two decades of experience working with employers to bring you candid interviews with industry experts, new best practices and valuable perspectives on current events. To learn more, please visit www.401kfridays.com




Frustrated By Complex 401(k) Terms? We'll Help You Clarify If It Is Jargon, Gibberish or Jumbled

Today we have a little fun, I am excited to welcome back J.D. Carlson who by day is the President & CEO of Plan Design Consultants, a Third Party Administration firm and by night is a YouTube sensation as one fourth of the Retireholiks. Our conversation is a follow-up to one we had on the podcast last year where we tackled some tricky workplace retirement terms to either decipher some industry jargon, declare they are pure Gibberish or if they are real terms or concepts that can be confused...


Caregiver Benefits: Strategies to Take Care of Those Who Care For Others

When you listen to this episode, some of what we talk about might not directly impact you if you are not a caregiver. However, as you will hear the odds are someone you know, work with or is a client likely is. My guest today, Bill Harmon, President of Corporate Retirement Markets at Voya Financial and a caregiver himself, talks candidly about how to define caregiver, the challenges they face in the workforce, how employers can help and why introducing more support for caregivers in the...


Are Low Interest Rates a Hidden Risk to 401(k) Plans?

Interest rates could be a significant risk to retirement savers that is hiding in plain sight. During my conversation with Mike Barry, President of O3 Advisory Services, we connect a lot of dots on how low interest rates could impact the retirement of current and future retirees. We also hit on several reasons why interest rates have been trending lower, whether student debt plays into the conversation and why employers who are even considering pursuing a retirement income strategy should...


Aftermath of the DOL Fiduciary Rule: Fred Reish Discusses the Role of the SEC, Best Interest & the States

We last spoke with my guest Fred Reish, ERISA Attorney and Partner at Drinker Biddle in the immediate aftermath of the demise of the DOL Fiduciary Rule. Today, we catch-up on what has happened since and what implications they have for employers, their employees and retirement service providers. Without stealing too much of Fred’s thunder, we start with why this conversation and regulations exists, what has changed in concept and with new and newish players entering the fray like the SEC...


Insurance for Retirement Plan Fiduciaries: Liabilities, Limits & Lawsuits

Depending on who you ask, fiduciary liability insurance might not be on the top of their list as the most exciting topic, but it is important. For my guest today, Reid Eanes, a Senior Vice President with Lockton Insurance Brokers, helping insure fiduciary is from workplace retirement plans is a key part of his day job. We start with a few basics on how fiduciary liability insurance works and differs from other types of insurance programs a company might have, we then delve into what types...


Benefits Plans Fiduciary Responsibilities:: More Than Just Retirement Plan

This week we try something a little different. This episode is the audio portion of a webinar I hosted a few weeks ago. The content was great and I thought it would make sense share with you. My conversation features Sam Henson and Ethan McWilliams, both members of Lockton's ERISA regulatory and compliance team and both spent time as investigators with the Department of Labor. We start with a quick overview of an employer's fiduciary responsibilities, then compare and contrast how they...


Financial Advice or Wellness: What Has A Bigger Impact?

Should employers focus their efforts to help employees on the journey to retirement by providing true investment advice or more in the trenches financial support? To debate the finer points and provide his in the trenches experience, I was excited to welcome back Peter Dunn, aka Pete the Planner to the podcast. Pete has a pretty unique vantage point as he provides employers with a suite of financial wellness tools but he also has a support center for employees of his clients to speak,...


Are Poor 401(k) Word Choices Harming Your Employees?

Wars have been started over words, and retirement outcomes for employees can also be impacted by words. My guest today, Steve Jenks, a Senior Vice President and the Chief Marketing Officer at Empower shares his over 20 years of experience on how word choice can make a big difference to someone’s ability to retire. Key words you find commonly in retirement plan communications like match, assets, participants, deferral percentage don’t have the meaning or impact you think it should have with...


Time to Eliminate Loans in 401(k) Plans?: Balancing Fiduciary Risk, Retirement Outcomes and Employee Perceptions

Could retirement plan loans be the next big fiduciary concern for plan sponsors? Hard to tell, but my conversation today with Bruce Ashton, ERISA Attorney and Partner in the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice at Drinker Biddle, will certainly help you understand why multiple regulators are taking a harder look at the retirement plan loans, especially defaults. We cover a ton of ground including my opening question which is likely the first thing that would come to the...


The State of State Retirement Plans: The Golden State Launch

There are three state run retirement plans that are now live. Despite the fact they have been in the news, there are still a lot of questions about what they are, how they work and how they impact employers and employees who already have a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan. To help provide some information and clear up misperceptions I am excited to have Katie Selenski, the Executive Director of CalSavers, the newly launched California state retirement plan join on the podcast. ...


Caution: Avoid Target Date Fund Oversimplifications

After a quick hiatus in July, we are back and excited about what we have in store! To kick things off, this episode features my conversation with Jeff Holt, CFA and Director, Multi-Asset & Alternative Strategies with Morningstar Research Services and a lead author of the annual Morningstar Target Date Landscape Report. This is the third time Jeff has been on the podcast and his return does not disappoint. The broader theme of our conversation was the importance of avoiding...


401(k) Self Directed Brokerage Accounts: Fiduciary Considerations

This episode is a follow on conversation to an episode a few months ago where we talked about the operational aspects of self-directed brokerage accounts in workplace retirement plans. While you don’t have to listen to the prior episode first, it is definitely worth checking out if you are interested in the topic. Today, Tom Clark, a Partner and ERISA Attorney with the Wagner Law Group and I jump into the sometimes scary and confusing fiduciary territory of offering self-directed brokerage...


Selecting Index Funds: Just Look At Expense Ratios, or Is There More To Consider?

For the last several years a consistent message in the marketplace for retirement plan sponsors, participants and the industry has been the importance of investment fees. The good news is nearly all investment fees have been on a downward trend. As the cost of many passive investment options approach zero, is expense still the most important factor when evaluating index strategies? Today, I am happy to welcome Marty Kleppe, Head of Index Investing at Vanguard to share his thoughts. With...


401(k) Litigation: Trends That May (or May Not) Fuel Future Lawsuits

One of the most popular questions we get from employers is what is going on with 401(k) or ERISA litigation, or the close cousin to the question, what is on the horizon that we should be aware of? To share some perspective on that and much more, I am happy to welcome Carl Engstrom, a partner with Nichols Kaster, a plaintiff’s litigation firm who has secured over $100 million in ERISA settlements in the last few years. During our conversation, Carl does a great job sorting through some...


Student Loan Debt: The Next Economic Crisis or Something Else?

Student loans have gotten a lot of attention recently. Whether it is due to the sheer number of loans and size of the outstanding debt, or due to the competition for talent, employers are weighing whether they should offer new benefit to help those who have them. Today, we take a little different view on student loan debt and delve into the impact they might have on the economy and unpack a few popular narratives in the marketplace. To provide the intellectual muscle to the conversation I...


Is Your 401(k) Plan Retiree Friendly?

A few years ago, the idea that participants in 401(k) plans were going to keep their money in their retirement plans longer started to gain traction. Today, my guest Sue Walton, a SVP and Senior Retirement Strategist with The Capital Group shares how that idea got started and more. I start with sharing a few of my preconceived notions about how retirement plans work for retirees, Sue responds to a few cynical comments and then get into the meat of how to make your workplace retirement plan...


401(k) Fiduciary Fundamentals: The Duty To Monitor

Thought it might be helpful to discuss a core retirement plan fiduciary concept, the duty to monitor. To lend some muscle to the conversation I was excited to welcome back Jim Scheinberg, the Managing Partner and Founder of North Pier Fiduciary Management. We kick off with one of the best explanations of what it means to be a fiduciary that I have heard and then we delve into the world what the fiduciary duty to monitor means, best practices for plan sponsors to follow and much more. Jim...


What Does Chewing Glass & FOMO Have To Do With 401(k) Investment Offerings?

We break new ground today on the podcast as we talk about FOMO, catching falling knives, Uncle Warren and chewing glass. My guest today is John Allen, CFA the Chief Investment Officer at Aspirant. We also hit on some other great concepts such as why it is important to understand vs. observe what your investment managers are doing, thoughts on the impact of investment bubbles in the short, medium and long term. I also have a new word for my vocabulary, conflate, John makes some insightful...


401(k) Investment Menu Design In A Slow, Low or No Growth Environment: Fixed Income

This episode is a companion episode to a similar one we released a few weeks about which focussed on the equity side of the conversation. Not require listening, but if this one caught your eye, you should check that one out as well. My guest today, John Bellows, PhD, a Portfolio Manager with Western Asset Management and a member of their US Broad Strategy Committee, the Global Investment Strategy Committee and the Global Portfolios team. We jump into the recent market action right out of the...


The Future of Fiduciary... Is Not Fiduciary?

The title for this episode might seem a little confusing, but after you listen to my conversation with Don Trone, CEO and Co-founder of 3Ethos it will make a lot more sense. This is Don’s second visit to the podcast, if you missed his first one, Building a Stronger Retirement Plan Fiduciary, it is a great listen as well. Today we kick off with a quick post mortem on the DOL fiduciary rule and thoughts on the movements within some states to create their own version of a fiduciary rule. We...