Running on auto pilot is okay, as long as plan administrators keep their hands on the wheel.
Although much has been written about the controls put in place by 401(k) plan sponsors to protect day traders from themselves, participants at the opposite end of the spectrum are often overlooked. Lets call them the auto pilotsthe participants who arent paying much attention to their 401(k) plan. Todays technology and typical plan design have made it very easy for the hands-off participant to remain that way, even in a generous, well-advertised retirement program.
Without necessarily understanding the plan or tax rules in any detail, the auto pilots know it is a good thing to contribute some of their pay. So they joined the plan, perhaps with contribution amounts and investments dictated by automatic enrollment. They have been contributing via automatic payroll deduction. Perhaps this plan also offers automatic contribution increases, whereby contribution percentages (of pay) automatically increase upon pay increase, and automatic rebalancing, which saves the participant the effort of reacting to an account that, for example, has skewed far from the investment split that the participant (or the automatic enrollment) originally intended.
In this hypothetical (but very possible) scenario, the participant who once chose or defaulted into a healthy contribution level might now be a mere spectator while the plan applies the IRSs annual contribution limitsstopping their pre-tax contributions at this years $14,000 limit, perhaps with an automatic restart of contributions in the first pay period of 2006.
On a more sophisticated level, perhaps the participant chose managed accounts, where the participant delegates responsibility to a financial entity authorized by the plan sponsor to make all of that accounts ongoing investment decisions. If so, that step of allowing their account to be managed for them might be one of the only active steps they ever take during their participation in their plan. Perhaps the plan also offers an employee stock ownership feature, offering automatic dividend reinvestment or cashout, with a likely default to reinvestment.
Its all automatic, and its all under control by the plans recordkeeper. But the auto pilots need several defense mechanisms to be in place on their behalf. At the very least, the plans overseers are obligated to communicate the plans default rules and their implications, and carry the fiduciary responsibility to monitor investment performance. Yet plan sponsors usually delegate to plan administrators much of the responsibility for helping those who have chosen not to help themselves. Lets look at these lines of defense:
By law, all plan participants are notified if their plan employs any of the automatics mentioned above and, if so, its default contribution rate and investment approach. Printed account statements confirm the status of the account, and Summary Plan Descriptions lay out the participants alternatives, deadlines for changes, and implications of inaction. But is the plan administrator monitoring the level of default elections taking effect, or how or how often participants override them? Are their communications personalized and targeted enough to catch the eye of the auto pilots who just let their 401(k) ride until their retirement, despite what it might be costing them?
During the past decade, lifecycle and lifestyle fundspresetting an investment mix appropriate to the assumed age or investment time horizon of the investorhave solidified their place in the offerings of 401(k) plans. These funds help investors follow proven long-term investment strategies and diversification without requiring them to make ongoing, explicit reallocation decisions. Again, are all of these default options made clear to a generally unsophisticated and often uninvolved audience?
The recent growing trend towards offering the managed accounts described above expands the plans fiduciary exposure. All along, the retirement or pension committee overseeing the plan has had the responsibility of offering its participants a prudent array of investment options. The fate of the auto pilot is especially in their hands. Ironically, for the recently terminated employee who never contributed much to the plan, their final action could be just as automatican involuntary rollover of their vested account balance (if it has not exceeded $1,000) to an IRA preselected by the company they just left. Defaulters should beware. It is always a good idea to remind them to drive with their eyes open.
New Service Tracks HR Media Coverage, Top Advertisers, and Health of Human Capital Marketplace
The monthly reports are emailed to HRmarketer.com members and anyone who signs up at www.HRmarketer.com to receive a free eNewsletter that summarizes the latest findings. The trend reports are based on information from the company’s new HRintelligence database, which includes detailed information on editorial placements and advertisements for every HR service provider and organization mentioned in each tracked publication. Subscribers to HRmarketer.com have full access to the data and can establish email alerts to be notified when their company, their competitors, or any selected keywords appear in the major industry trade publications.
The premiere HRintelligence Trend Report for January/February 2005 identified the top advertisers in the human capital marketplace as AARP, ADP,
According to the report, companies receiving the most media attention in the human resource industry included Accenture, Aetna, Aon, ASTD, Ceridian, CIGNA, Definity Health, Employee Benefits Research Institute, Hewitt Associates, IBM, Mellon Financial Corp, JP Morgan, Kaiser Family Foundation, Lucent, Medco Health Solutions, Mercer Human Resource Consulting, MetLife, Microsoft, Oracle, PeopleSoft, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Recruitmax, SAP, Segal, SHRM, The Conference Board, Towers Perrin, Watson Wyatt, Workstream and WorldatWork.
Editorial topics receiving the most attention during January and February included outsourcing, rising health care costs, continued coverage of employee benefit broker compensation practices, HSAs and HR’s increasingly-prominent role in educating and training boards of directors in light of compliance concerns.
Last, according to the HRintelligence Trend Report, the human capital industry’s health received a “great” rating. The unscientific measurement looks at the aggregate number of advertising placements across the major HR trade publications and analysis of other activity within the sector, including new investment money flowing into the space, IPOs, M&A, closures and more. The company then benchmarks against the previous month to come up with a 5-point rating system of Excellent / Great / Good / Average / Poor.
Fisher Vista, LLC is a marketing and information services firm focusing exclusively on the human capital industry. The company’s flagship product, www.HRmarketer.com, is the No. 1 online marketing and PR service in the human resources industry, helping HR service providers increase their visibility and generate sales leads.
Elrond Lawrence, Director of Media Relations
CONTACT: Elrond Lawrence, Director of Media Relations of HRmarketer.com,
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LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Feb. 14, 2005–Hewitt Associates (NYSE:HEW), a global human resources services firm, announced today it will provide human resources services to Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE:MAR). Under a seven-year agreement, Hewitt will provide human resources business process outsourcing (BPO) services, including workforce administration, benefits, compensation, recruiting, domestic relocation, and learning and development services to Marriott’s 133,000 employees
DALLAS, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., (NYSE: ACS – News), a premier provider of business process and information technology outsourcing solutions, announced today that it has been awarded a human resources (HR) business process outsourcing (BPO) contract with Delta Air Lines, the United States’ second-largest airline. The seven-year agreement is valued at $120 million.
Under the terms of the new HR outsourcing agreement, ACS will provide a broad range of human resource functions for Delta, including compensation and benefits administration, relocation services, recruiting, learning, payroll, HR Information Services, and employee call center services for Delta’s North American employees and retirees
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. –(Business Wire)– Feb. 4, 2005 — Hewitt Associates (NYSE: HEW), a global human resources services firm, announced today it has signed a contract with The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC), a global integrated information solutions provider, to provide HR business process outsourcing (BPO) services.
Under a five-year agreement, Hewitt will provide certain HR BPO services in the areas of benefits, compensation, payroll, learning and development and recruiting for Thomson’s 28,000 employees in the United States
Comprehensive Offerings Accelerate Revenue Growth and Offer Clients Flexibility and Choice
METHUEN, Mass. (January 31, 2005 ) – – Genesys, a provider of outsourcing services and software for human resources (HR) management, payroll, benefit administration and payments, self-service, learning, and performance management, and William Gallagher Associates (WGA), a leading provider of insurance brokerage, risk management and employee benefit services, today announced a strategic alliance to deliver best-in-class insurance brokerage and human resources outsourcing (HRO) solutions to customers
Fidelity Investments said Thursday that has won an outsourcing contract with BASF Corp. to handle that company’s human resources operations.
The five-year contract would have Fidelity conduct BASF’s payroll operations, health and welfare benefit programs and retirement plans for BASF’s nearly 20,000 U.S. employees and retirees. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Boston-based Fidelity touted the agreement reinforcing increased interest by major corporations to outsource their human resources operations to a single provider. The transition of BASF’s programs to Fidelity’s is expected to be complete by fall 2005, with most services being activate in early 2006.
BASF Corp., with headquarters in New Jersey, is the American affiliate of BASF AG, Ludwigshafen, Germany. It had sales of approximately $9 billion in 2003.
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jan. 13, 2005–Hewitt Associates (NYSE:HEW), a global human resources services firm, announced today it has signed a 15-year contract with Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROK) to provide HR business process outsourcing (BPO) services. Rockwell Automation provides industrial automation power, control and information solutions to global 500 corporations.
Under the agreement, Hewitt will provide workforce administration, payroll, health and welfare and defined benefit services to Rockwell Automation’s 15,000 U
Sick celebrities and healthcare cost control.
I was on the phone the other day with Suzanne Somers. You know Suzanne. Ask 100 Americans about her and their top 10 answers would be: The blonde in the car from the movie American Grafitti, Chrissy from Threes Company, The author of Eat Great, Lose Weight, The Thighmaster and Buttmaster infomercial woman, The star of that TV movie Keeping Secrets, The TV host of Candid Camera, Oh, I just bought her stuff on Home Shopping Network, Shes got that family anti-addiction institute, She wrote that hormone book The Sexy Years, and, at the end of the list, Sure, shes a cancer survivor.
April 2005 will mark the fifth anniversary of Suzanne Somerss breast-cancer diagnosis. I interviewed her for my new book, which focuses on the new celebrity openness about previously taboo diseases. Somers has been outspoken about how, after surgery and radiation, she avoided chemotherapy by going non-traditional with a homeopathic drug named Iscador. Today, she is cancer-free and speaking to anyone who will listen about the power of awareness in fighting this dreaded disease. She is also urging employers to be understanding about their employees need for a variety of tools to stay healthy, including insurance plans that allow alternative remedies and employer flexibility to deal with the need to heal.
How about Mike Milken? Our keynote speaker at last years NY HR Week/HRO World Conference, Milken has single-handedly revolutionized cancer research. After his prostate cancer diagnosis in 1993, Milken threw the weight of both his considerable intellect and wealth at the problem, with dramatic results. Today, while prostate cancer continues to represent 32 percent of all male cancers, more than $485 million annually is committed to prostate cancer research, and cure rates are as high as 85 percent in even previously incurable forms of the disease.
And what about singer-songwriter Naomi Judd, a hepatitis C survivor who gave up her career to fight the disease. Today, as she told me in September 2004, she is disease-free and the celebrity spokesperson for the National Liver Foundation.
And former Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, who met me a couple of months ago in her high-rise office overlooking Ground Zero in lower
And Grammy-winner Shawn Colvin, whose recurring bouts with depression caused her to miss several sold-out shows. Colvin met me twice to stump for employer-awareness of the impact of depression on employee performance.
There are more: former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Magic Johnson, whose battle against AIDS has helped convert him from pariah to profit-minded paragon of the virtue of openness. And former President Bill Clinton, whose emergency heart artery bypass surgery late last year caused more than 400,000 Americans to schedule appointments with their doctors.
And how could we forget diabetes sufferer Dick Clark, whose diabetes-caused stroke forced him to hand over his annual Rockin New Years Eve show to Regis Philbin. I met
To date, I have talked with more than 50 celebrities about their previously secret afflictionscancers, neurological diseases, eating and digestive disorders, mental illness, AIDS, heart disease, and diabetes. All of them are coming out of the closet for two reasons. First, openness is good for finding a cure for their disease. And second, because the cost of employee health care is todays most worried- about employer topic. (Note: 64 percent of all Americans get their health care through employers.)
At this years HRO World Conference, April 12-13 in
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