Search and subscribe to personalized updates and notifications via email, Outlook and RSS for any type of live or online event that matches your business interests, continuing education needs and location.
Click here to access all of our content with an intuitive Web 2.0 interface that includes full word, tag and easy calendar search as well as integrated social media links, Google, Yahoo, Technorati and blog search engine queries.
Financial Advisors and "Dual Registration" - Understanding the Jargon
Posted on Apr 9, 2014 (14 days ago)
When people ask me what I do, it's easy enough to respond "I'm a financial advisor." But the technical explanation as to how my organization operates is more complicated. I figured why not write an article about it because it reflects an industry trend and may be interesting to my clients and other readers. My firm (Premier Wealth Advisors, LLC) is an RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) which provides fee-based advisory services. However, we are also licensed as registered representatives of First Allied Securities, Inc., an independent broker/dealer firm. Through First Allied we are able to offer an additional array of commission-based products including life insurance and annuities. While fee-only advisors are the rage these days, I thought it was important to be dually registered so that I can continue to offer a full slate of investment and advisory products and services to my clients. Why send my clients to another advisor to buy insurance when we can do it here? As a comprehensive wealth management firm, our clients should be able to get everything they need here from investment and insurance services to tax and estate planning. A recent article from Financial Planning magazine's website discusses this topic and points out that from a compliance standpoint, the dually registered advisor has more potential issues to deal with. A fee-only advisor may not have to register with FINRA and therefore may have more flexibility with their advertising, marketing, and record-keeping requirements. In fact, the SEC noted earlier this year that dually registered advisors can expect increased scrutiny from its examiners in 2014. One of the central tenets of that scrutiny is likely the fact that dually registered advisors can steer clients into either a fee-based (advisory) account or a traditional brokerage account with commissions. Regulators have different standards of care for each of those account types and it can get sticky if advisors are operating under both a ...
Using Index Funds in Defined Contribution Plans (PDF)
Posted on Apr 2, 2014 (21 days ago)
"A plain vanilla, stripped-down S&P 500 index fund can be made available to participants for a few basis points.... For the most part, the fee is designed only to cover the investment management costs; it does not provide for the considerable expenses of running a defined contribution plan. Compliance, legal, communications, administration and the other plan necessities all cost significant amounts of money. To help defray those costs, slightly more expensive index funds have been created that provide revenue sharing to help offset plan administrative costs." (Cammack Retirement)
Simple IRAs vs. Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans: What Are the Differences?
Posted on Mar 5, 2014 (49 days ago)
3 page chart. Excerpt: "SIMPLE IRAs carry a lower administrative burden than 401(k) Safe Harbor Plans, due to simplified plan documents, and no annual compliance testing or 5500 government reporting requirements.... The purpose of this outline is to compare a SIMPLE IRA with a safe harbor 401(k) plan -- especially for employers who must cover participants other than just the owners." (Retirement Management Services, LLC)
Sure your 401k would pass an audit? Last year, most didn't
Posted on Feb 21, 2014 (60 days ago)
Employers are well aware that the feds are aggressively looking into company-sponsored 401k plans for compliance issues. So it's alarming to find out that the vast majority of plans the DOL looked at last year ran afoul of ...
An Interactive Look at the Key Retirement Plan Compliance Dates
Posted on Jan 30, 2014 (83 days ago)
"Compliance dates and fiduciary milestones may vary from plan to plan, but these sample quarterly calendars provide a great starting point from which to create a schedule specific to your plan. Please note that specific dates relate to calendar-year plans." (Fidelity Investments)
[Guidance Overview] FINRA Holiday 'Reminder': Broker-Dealer Responsibilities for IRA Rollover Recommendations (PDF)
Posted on Jan 27, 2014 (86 days ago)
"[M]ost registered representatives and the BDs that supervise them will be surprised by the breadth and depth of the challenging compliance requirements outlined by FINRA in the Notice.... While the Notice applies only to FINRA members, the guidance it contains appears to be a harbinger of the more broadly applicable approach that the [DOL] is likely to take in its effort to change the definition of 'fiduciary' under [ERISA].... The Notice suggests that, at least with respect to the rollover question, FINRA's views are moving into alignment with DOL's and concerns about uncoordinated guidance may be somewhat less compelling." (Groom Law Group)
Hardship Distributions: Summary of IRS Tips and Guidance (PDF)
Posted on Dec 17, 2013 (126 days ago)
"The popularity of arranging for a hardship distribution electronically is growing. As part of the process, a participant may self-certify that he or she has met the plan's hardship distribution criteria. However, the fact that the distribution application was processed electronically does not relieve a plan sponsor of the need to gather documentation as proof of the validity of the applicant's immediate and heavy financial need.... The IRS indicated that agents will look for documentation that supports the participant's request and proves that the plan sponsor's hardship distribution process is in compliance." (United Retirement Plan Consultants)
[Guidance Overview] Planning for ERISA Single-Employer Defined Contribution Plan Operations in (PDF)
Posted on Dec 16, 2013 (128 days ago)
"In addition to [various] testing and reporting requirements, plan sponsors may want to perform an annual 'checkup' (i.e., an audit of operational practices and fiduciary responsibilities). A plan checkup should address plan expenses, plan design considerations, participant fees and plan investments. The checkup should confirm the plan's compliance with the terms of the document and investment policy statement, if any. Review compliance test results with an eye toward making necessary plan design changes to improve testing results or eliminate testing altogether." (Buck Consultants)
2013 Year-End Compliance Reminders for Defined Contribution Plans Subject to ERISA (PDF)
Posted on Dec 11, 2013 (133 days ago)
"This information applies to qualified defined contribution plans and 403(b) plans that are subject to Title I of ERISA. Every year, plan sponsors must make sure their plans meet certain compliance requirements ... This publication identifies the materials you need to review and will help you prepare for year-end." (Prudential)