Allen Steinberg

Allen Steinberg : Perspectives

Employee benefit plans—especially retirement and health care—have become an increasingly important part of the employment relationship. For employers, these plans represent an important part of the total compensation package, a tool for retention and recruitment, and a growing financial and compliance burden. For employees, these plans represent a key part of their overall financial security and wellbeing, a financial burden, and a source of complexity and frustration. In effect, it’s complicated. Our firm is dedicated to helping employers manage these complexities and focus on the important things.

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11.09.2018 03.20 CDT

A recent IRS private letter ruling approved an innovative approach that allows employees to balance student loan repayments with saving for retirement.

Combining Student Loan Repayments and Retirement Savings

Combining Student Loan Repayments and Retirement Savings

By combining a 401(k) plan with student loan repayments, this approach may provide employers an opportunity to help employees meet student loan obligations without adding a costly new program.

The IRS recently approved a new plan design that allows employees to receive employer retirement contributions either by (i) making deferrals into the employer’s retirement plan, or (ii) making student loan repayments.

01.08.2018 09.08 CDT

A recent study provides strong evidence that the financial industry implicitly tolerates adviser misconduct and that certain firms have created a secondary market for advisers who engage in misconduct.

Patterns of How the Financial Industry Tolerates Misconduct

Patterns of How the Financial Industry Tolerates Misconduct

This paper helps demonstrate how it is not enough for plan fiduciaries to rely on regulatory rules to protect against predatory behavior; as in so many horror movies, the predator is already inside the house.

A recent paper raises some important - and troubling - issues about how the financial industry treats advisers who engage in serious misconduct. The paper demonstrates how investment adviser misconduct is tolerated and how advisers who engage in misconduct are likely to be concentrated in certain firms.

17.07.2018 10.34 CDT

At the core of the Administration’s actions to dismantle the ACA are actions that pull lives out of the risk pool; undermining the integrity of the ACA’s risk pools will undermine the stability of health insurance markets. This instability may prove to be yet another set of ACA-related headaches for employers.

Risk Pooling, Risk Shifting and Risky (Health Insurance) Business

Risk Pooling, Risk Shifting and Risky (Health Insurance) Business

It is difficult to measure the specific effects, of each of these actions, on health insurance markets. However, there is increasing evidence that the cumulative effects of these actions are reshaping health insurance markets in the United States.

Over the past year the Administration has taken a number of steps that serve to undermine the ACA by facilitating the movement of covered lives away from plans covered by the ACA - by increasing premiums, by discouraging carrier participation in ACA exchanges and by reducing behavioral barriers to dropping individual coverage. These actions represent traps for employers caught in the middle of this slow-motion ACA repeal.

05.06.2018 12.08 CDT

There is significant evidence that consumers are placing their trust - and their money - with financial professionals who have financial incentives that conflict with consumers’ best interests. It does not appear that the current debates over professionals’ standards of conduct will make real progress in addressing this issue.

Dancing on the Head of a Pin

Dancing on the Head of a Pin

Regulators and courts may focus on the different rules for “investment advisers” and “brokers.” But, in the real world, this distinction confuses investors and undermines consumer protections.

There are key legal differences between investment advisers and brokers. However, consumers do not understand the implications of these differences. Consumers’ confusion is exacerbated by industry advertising, with references to “financial advisers,” “wealth managers” and “financial consultants” further blurring the difference between investment advisers and brokers.

18.05.2018 09.49 CDT

Financial firms have both the opportunity and the financial motivation to move customers from employer-sponsored plans to individual products, such as retail managed accounts and annuities. An investigation of Wells Fargo bank may disclose whether the bank succumbed to the temptation.

Et Tu, Wells Fargo?

Et Tu, Wells Fargo?

An investigation does not mean there was any wrongdoing by Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo bank is reportedly under investigation for practices in the bank’s retirement plan division. The investigation apparently focuses on practices that may have been intended to move clients from employer-sponsored plans into more expensive individual retirement accounts when they leave their jobs. If these reports are accurate it may help shine a light on industry practices that contribute to plan “leakage.”