Employee Infographic | Seeking, Finding and Consolidating Your Accounts

  • Bjork Group

Headline Image - Seeking Finding and Consolidating Your Accounts

The average person has 12 jobs during the course of their career.[1] That’s a lot of jobs — and a lot of 401(k) accounts!

Around 25 million Americans have left money behind in an old 401(k) when leaving a job.[2] It’s possible that your current employees have missing 401(k) accounts. However, you can guide and help them with consolidating their accounts.

Help make your employees lives a little easier by sharing this useful infographic about seeking, finding and consolidating their accounts!

Download the Infographic

 

Sean C. Bjork, CIMA®, AIF®

Vice President

Bjork Group

1033 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 210

Northbrook, IL. 60062

p.312.464.7082

seanbjork@bjorkgroup.com

www.bjorkgroup.com

 

Employee benefit consulting offered through The Bjork Group, Inc. Securities and Retirement Plan Consulting Program advisory services provided by Bjork Asset Management, Inc. offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. Other advisory services offered through Independent Financial Partners (IFP), a registered investment advisor. IFP, Bjork Asset Management, Inc. and The Bjork Group, Inc. are separate entities from LPL Financial.

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics. Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth: Results from a National Longitudinal Survey. Press Release. August 22, 2019.

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Why it's Important to Review, Refresh and Revise Retirement Plan Documents

  • Bjork Group

Headline Image - Why its Important to Review Refresh and Revise Retirement Plan Documents

You likely recognize the importance of seeing your doctor for an annual physical to keep your health in tip-top shape, or taking your car in for routine maintenance to keep it running like new.

But what about checking the health of your retirement plan? When is the last time you reviewed your retirement committee charter, investment policy statement (IPS) and other key retirement plan documents to monitor your plan’s compliance with specific standards of conduct and fiduciary responsibilities under the law?

Ideally, you should meet with your plan’s advisor at least once a year to evaluate the overall health of your retirement plan, which includes reviewing plan documents and operations to help ensure they are up to date with current guidance and regulations.

 

Always a Fiduciary: An Ongoing Responsibility

As a retirement plan fiduciary, adhering to plan documents is one of your most important roles. As a plan sponsor, you are a fiduciary to the plan. This means you have an ongoing and continuous responsibility to monitor the plan, service providers, investment offerings and operations. It’s your job to ensure they are being managed in the sole interest of your participants and their beneficiaries, and for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits and paying plan expenses.[1] Not following these standards of conduct could subject you to personal liabilities. In addition, courts could take action against plan fiduciaries who breach their responsibilities. There has already been a plethora of lawsuits against plan fiduciaries in recent years.

Associate Supreme Court Justice, Stephen J. Breyer, famously submitted his verdict of the landmark Tibble v. Edison case, which set a precedent for fiduciary breach cases regarding the monitoring and selection of retirement plan investments. He stated that “… a trustee has a continuing duty — separate and apart from the duty to exercise prudence in selecting investments at the outset — to monitor, and remove imprudent, trust investments.” In short, monitoring and managing your retirement plan, its investments and operations are not responsibilities to be taken lightly.

 

Compliance Never Sleeps

Moreover, government and regulatory agencies such as the Department of Labor are continually monitoring plan fiduciaries to make sure they are following plan documents and procedures in accordance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the law that governs employer-sponsored retirement plans. Ultimately, this puts the onus of compliance and proper plan management on you. That said, it can be helpful to partner with your plan advisor to perform annual plan reviews for any common mistakes while managing your retirement plan and investments.

Addressing six common mistakes:

  1. Poor investment oversight. Create an investment committee, led by a qualified financial professional and conduct periodic investment reviews and ongoing monitoring towards ensuring the plan’s investment options and fees are appropriate for all participants.

  1. Failure to conduct periodic plan reviews. Regulations are constantly evolving and changing. Conducting a periodic plan review or benchmarking process, preferably with an independent third party, can help ensure that plan fees are reasonable and the plan is promoting positive outcomes for participants.

  1. Failure to take timely action. Having knowledge of potential compliance, investment, plan fees or other significant issues, but failing to remedy them in a timely manner, can result in serious penalties or personal liability for plan fiduciaries.

  1. Lack of an up-to-date Investment Policy Statement (IPS). Typically maintained by the retirement plan investment committee with help from the plan advisor, the IPS guidelines address how the plan’s investment options are selected, monitored and managed. The IPS should be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect the plan’s current goals. Many employers create an IPS but fail to follow or update it, putting them at risk for a breach of fiduciary duty.

  1. Lack of a proactive participant education and communication plan. Three markers of retirement plan success are widespread participation, high savings rates and adequate investment diversification. An effective participant education and communication program can help increase deferrals and promote proper asset allocation for participants. It can also make a significant difference in your plan’s success.

  1. Not following the terms of the plan document. It’s important to make sure employees are being enrolled as they become eligible, participants are receiving the correct employer matching contributions, and loans and distributions are being handled according to the policies and procedures in the plan documents.

If you identify operational or compliance errors during your annual review — don’t panic. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Labor (DOL) have programs to assist you in fixing mistakes. Your plan’s advisor and third-party administrator (TPA) can help with operational and compliance errors, too.

Keep in mind that once you’ve identified and corrected any plan errors, you should put processes in place to avoid future mistakes. In addition to conducting annual reviews, you should also perform regular maintenance to ensure your plan remains in good health — just like sticking to a healthy diet and exercise regimen prevent illness and performing routine tune-ups on your car keep it performing at its best.

 

 

Sean C. Bjork, CIMA®, AIF®

Vice President

Bjork Group

1033 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 210

Northbrook, IL. 60062

p.312.464.7082

seanbjork@bjorkgroup.com

www.bjorkgroup.com

 

Employee benefit consulting offered through The Bjork Group, Inc. Securities and Retirement Plan Consulting Program advisory services provided by Bjork Asset Management, Inc. offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. Other advisory services offered through Independent Financial Partners (IFP), a registered investment advisor. IFP, Bjork Asset Management, Inc. and The Bjork Group, Inc. are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax/legal advice. Each plan has unique requirements, and you should consult your attorney or tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation.

©401(k) Marketing, LLC. All rights reserved. Proprietary and confidential. Do not copy or distribute outside original intent.

 

[1] U.S. Department of Labor. Fiduciary Responsibilities.

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Guide to Missing Participants: End of the Year Clean Up

  • Bjork Group

Headline Image - Missing Participants End of the Year Clean Up

As a plan fiduciary, you are responsible for your keeping track of former employees with account balances, a.k.a. missing participants. The DOL and IRS are paying more attention to plan sponsors’ efforts to identify and locate these participants, especially when uncashed checks and approaching RMDs are involved.

If you have missing participants, the first step in locating them is to get your plan in order. By cleaning up your plan, you will be able to identify the participants and then take the necessary steps to locate them.

This easy-to-use checklist can help you take control of former employees and your missing participant problem.

Download the Guide

 

Sean C. Bjork, CIMA®, AIF®

Vice President

Bjork Group

1033 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 210

Northbrook, IL. 60062

p.312.464.7082

seanbjork@bjorkgroup.com

www.bjorkgroup.com

 

Employee benefit consulting offered through The Bjork Group, Inc. Securities and Retirement Plan Consulting Program advisory services provided by Bjork Asset Management, Inc. offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. Other advisory services offered through Independent Financial Partners (IFP), a registered investment advisor. IFP, Bjork Asset Management, Inc. and The Bjork Group, Inc. are separate entities from LPL Financial.

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2021 Contribution Limits

  • Bjork Group

BJORK_Annual Contribution Limits_Headline Image

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Tracking Down Your Missing Participants

  • Bjork Group

Headline Image - Tracking Down Your Missing Participants

If you have terminated participants with balances in your 401(k) plan, some of whom you can’t locate, you’re not alone; missing participants are an industry-wide problem.

What is a missing participant? A missing participant is a former employee who has left funds in a qualified retirement plan (ex. 401(k) plan) at their former employer but has failed to keep their contact information current and is no longer actively managing their plan account.            

A 2018 survey by Boston Research Technologies and the Retirement Clearinghouse estimates that 11% of terminated employees have stale addresses in their plans and one of five relocations result in a missing plan participant; their research also suggested an excess of three million missing participants.[1]

 

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Staying the Course Through Volatile Markets

  • Bjork Group

Headline Image - Staying th e Course Through Volatile Markets

Turbulent times can bring turbulent markets. Many factors cause chaotic swings in the investing world including housing bubbles, political elections, international instability, and as we have seen recently, a global health pandemic.

Despite the financial queasiness this can have, experts consistently have one piece of advice for investors: stay calm and stay the course. Maintaining a long-term investment strategy can help weather the storm of a volatile stock market, whereas reacting irrationally, or panicking, is the last thing investors should do.

 

History Tends to Repeat

There are a few ways to keep nerves at bay amidst a sea of daunting headlines.

First, a historical review shows that market fluctuations are normal. This should serve as a comforting reminder during unstable conditions. According to Fidelity, “...while market downturns may be unsettling, history shows stocks have recovered and delivered long-term gains.”[1]

From 1995 to 2019 (a period that includes major drops due to the tech bubble burst, the 2008 market crash and the Great Recession), the average growth rate of the S&P 500 (which tracks the stock performance of 500 large companies on U.S. stock exchanges) was 11.9 percent (including dividends).[2]

While no one can predict the stock market with absolute certainty, the significant crashes of the last century all saw periods of recovery. For example, after the 2008 market crash, the recovery began almost immediately and achieved an eventual increase of 178% in 5-year returns.[3]

These past events reinforce the importance of focusing on long-term financial strategies and goals, not short-term fluctuations. The markets will have bull and bear runs which need time to play out without trying to anticipate short-term trends.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

 

Don’t Try to Catch a Falling Knife

Another potential mistake that investors can make is to stop saving during a market downturn. On the heels of the 2008 crash, one study found that more than a quarter of respondents either stopped saving for retirement or stopped adding to their 401(k).[4]

However, had they stayed put, their returns would have likely had substantial gains.

Fidelity Investments reports that the average 401(k) retirement plan balance rose by 466% to $297,700 between 2009 and 2019. Furthermore, the average retirement savings of millennials, many of whom would have been at the early stages of their work career, would have experienced an upward portfolio shift of 1,762% from $7,000 in Q1 of 2009 to just under $130,000 in 2019.[5] While past results are no guarantee of future results, it’s important to point out in this example that when participants stay the course, it can really pay off.

A popular way to continue savings momentum when nerves are being tested is dollar-cost averaging, or in other words, investing a fixed amount on a regular schedule (e.g. per pay period) that generally results in buying more shares when prices are low and less shares when they are high.

Dollar-cost averaging is a stabilizing approach. It can take away some of the fear of timing risk and become less of a system shock than lump sum investing. Dollar-cost averaging does not ensure a profit and does not protect against loss in declining markets.

 

You Need Lemons to Make Lemonade

Downturns are a perfect time to consult with a financial professional to review different strategies and also rebalance your portfolio. It might be time to look at investments that have lost value. This can help to manage risk exposure and could be an opportunity to reposition the portfolio for a potential recovery.

Another possibility is to consider a Roth conversion. If your plan allows for a Roth conversion — moving money from a 401(k) to a Roth 401(k) account — then a downturn could help. A conversion in a downturn might result in a lower tax bill for the same number of shares sold, and then the participant can experience the benefits of a Roth account, allowing qualified distributions of future growth to be tax free.[6]

Market downturns are a part of any investing lifecycle so it’s best to keep a steady hand, consult with your advisor and consider all options so you can weather through this market cycle - and the next one.

Information provided herein is not, and should not be regarded as, investment advice or as a recommendation. Investing involves risk, including potential loss of principal.

 

 

Sean C. Bjork, CIMA®, AIF®

Vice President

Bjork Group

1033 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 210

Northbrook, IL. 60062

p.312.464.7082

seanbjork@bjorkgroup.com

www.bjorkgroup.com

 

Employee benefit consulting offered through The Bjork Group, Inc. Securities and Retirement Plan Consulting Program advisory services provided by Bjork Asset Management, Inc. offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. Other advisory services offered through Independent Financial Partners (IFP), a registered investment advisor. IFP, Bjork Asset Management, Inc. and The Bjork Group, Inc. are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Information provided herein is not, and should not be regarded as, investment advice or as a recommendation. Investing involves risk, including potential loss of principal.

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax/legal advice. Each plan has unique requirements, and you should consult your attorney or tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation.

©401(k) Marketing, LLC. All rights reserved. Proprietary and confidential. Do not copy or distribute outside original intent.

[1] Fidelity Viewpoints. “6 Tips to Navigate Volatile Markets.” Fidelity. July 2020.

[2] Moneychimp. “Compound Annual Growth Rate (Annualized Return).” July 2020.

[3] Fidelity Viewpoints. “6 Tips to Navigate Volatile Markets.” Fidelity. July 2020.

[4] Betterment. “Betterment’s Consumer Financial Perspectives Report:10 Years After the Crash.” Sept 2018.

[5] Fidelity. “Q1 2019 Retirement Analysis.” May 2019.

[6] Fidelity Viewpoints. “6 Tips to Navigate Volatile Markets.” Fidelity. July 2020.

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Q4 2020 News and Information for Employers

  • Bjork Group

Headline Image - Q4 2020 Lift Retirement

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Video – 3 Fiduciary Action Items During Turbulent Times

  • Bjork Group

Headline Image - 3 Fiduciary Actions During Turbulent Times

COVID-19 has brought many updates, changes, and challenges, and we know the stress this can place on a plan sponsor.

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Participant Infographic – Household Budgeting Worksheet

  • Bjork Group

Headline Image - Household Budgeting Worksheet

It is normal for working Americans to experience some form of financial hardship.

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