2018 SPARK Forum - The Breakers - Palm Beach, FL


Keynote Address

Retirement Security: An Inflection Point

There are a number of significant forces contributing to the evolution of retirement security in the United States today. In his keynote, Joe Ready, EVP Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust discusses these forces and how they are driving the retirement industry to an inflection point, where the 401k industry will dramatically change and rise to new heights, or continue with the status quo which could cause millions of Americans to fall short of their retirement security goals.

Advisor Focused Topics

Is Managed Account the Death of Target Date Funds
The dominance of target date funds and the rise of robo investing are running into each other at full steam. This session introduces three providers offering robo managed accounts as default options, instead of an opt-in, options across their custodial platforms for plan sponsors. We will discuss the motivation for their entry into this space, their rationale, their solutions and what they see as the future. Is this the beginning of the end of TDF dominance? Is this the ultimate personalization and individualization for retirement investing? What are the push backs and detractors? Is this a friend or a foe to advisors? What should advisors be thinking and asking about?

What is that anchor plan sponsors need in their core menu?

Since the financial repression that was initiated during the Global Financial Crisis by central banks globally, interest rate on safe assets have been low to non-existent. Now with normalization, one outcome (“Rate Rise Scenario”) in 2018 and beyond could be the “burst of the bond bubble” scenario. Liquidity could drain from the system, and could lead to significant losses in bonds. Another outcome (“Low Rate Scenario”) would be for rates to remain in historically low levels since keeping rates low could spur economic activities.

In a rate rising or normalizing environment, core bonds tend to underperform. This tension between safety and generating return will be a delicate balancing act as rates and monetary policy normalizes. So what investment options should be made available under a Plan? What is that core investment option that would anchor the portfolio during risk off events? Is stable value the right answer or should it be a money market option or a short-term fixed income option? This panel will dive into these and other questions to help you think about a necessary and important conversation regarding fixed income and stability with your plan sponsors.

The BICE: How do Advisors and Plan Sponsors Meet their Monitoring Duties?
The new fiduciary definition became applicable on Jun 10, 2017. The Department of Labor (DOL) established a phased implementation period from June 9, 2017, until July 1, 2019, during which the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) is available, subject to the impartial conduct standards only.

In the phased implementation period the DOL will not pursue claims against fiduciaries who are working diligently and in good faith to comply with the fiduciary duty rule and BICE. During the Temporary Enforcement Policy, plan fiduciaries still have the duty to monitor and to make sure that the service provider is meeting the impartial conduct standard when the provider delivers distribution and investment advice.

In this session, recordkeeper-custodians will share their decision process regarding participant-level fiduciary service and the tools or process that are available for plan fiduciaries to monitor or audit them. A legal/ERISA expert will also be on the panel to offer best fiduciary monitoring practices. Among the questions answered are: What should advisors be telling their plan sponsors regarding their duty to monitor under the new Fiduciary Rule? If the recordkeeper does not offer distribution advice, what alternatives do advisors have? What are the impartial conduct standards and how would a plan fiduciary monitor these standards be met, or not? Should advisors charge additional fees for this service? Will auditors take this duty on in the future?

Financial Wellness. Is it a Benefit du Jour or a Game Changer?

Survey after survey suggests that employees are stressed about their finances and that employees' financial literacy is poor and many employees' financial health are fair at best. 401(k) advisors and recordkeepers have taken on financial wellness as an added benefit that plan sponsor most likely want and need and should be integrated with retirement plan education/guidance.

In this session, three panel members who are currently providing financial wellness as a service to their platforms will address how advisors should understand the value of financial wellness and if they should rely on recordkeepers to offer this non-fiduciary service. If 401(k) education has basically failed to make employees better savers let alone better investors, what makes financial wellness providers think that this time it is different? Are there differences among financial wellness providers and their services or effectiveness? How do we measure success or effectiveness as an advisor? Does financial wellness belong in a retirement plan framework or a health & welfare framework?

Are We Ready for Income Distribution at Retirement?

With Baby Boomers retiring or leaving the work force at the rate of 10,000 per day, generating income to sustain them during retirement remains a mystery. The fiduciary rule, among other Obama Administration era DOL agenda items, has been favoring participants to leave their vested assets in-plan. The idea is that in-plan offers lower expenses, fiduciary oversight and avoidance of potential conflicts. This may be true but plan sponsors have not been embracing this approach and thus embracing post retirement distribution solutions.

Three panelists will discuss their thoughts of post retirement income solutions. A host of questions will be addressed, including: Why the current solutions have not been wildly popular? Would the future be dominated by annuity payouts which provide outcome certainty but may be deficient to keep up with inflation? Would the income be generated by asset managers creating managed distribution solutions without a guarantee? How do the solution manufacturers think that their solutions would be meaningfully adopted? Would solutions be portable so that they will be functioning in-plan and in-IRA?

Data Security Topics

Cyber: Getting to grips with a complex risk
* Increasingly, the costs of a cyber breach extend beyond managing the fallout of lost or corrupted data to potential damage to a firm's reputation and physical property, and disruption to business operations.

* A dedicated cyber insurance market is developing rapidly, with many insurers looking to enter. However, cyber risks are complex to understand and quantify and currently the scale and scope of insurance cover relative to potential exposure is modest.

* Product and process innovation will help foster improved cyber insurance solutions and extend available cover. Innovations include common standards for capturing, sharing and reporting data about cyber incidents, and greater use of smart analytics to improve threat detection and risk assessment.

Industry Wide Topics

Largest DC Plan Shares its Goals and Vision
The Federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) with almost $500 billion in assets and more than five million participants is easily the largest single defined contribution (DC) plan in the United States. In this session, you will hear from the new Executive Director, Ravindra Deo and one of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) members, Bill Jasien, on their vision for the future of the TSP and goals they have for established for new levels of service and innovation.

Smart Retirement Income Strategies to Keep Assets in DC Plans
After more than a decade of research, William Meyer and Dr. William Reichenstein have proven there is a better way to assist plan participants and retirees in creating and implementing savings withdrawal strategies. Their research shows a smart drawdown plan can extend the life of the portfolio by up to seven years. This industry-changing research can now be leveraged by plan sponsors through a solution for individual participants. Join this session to learn more about the significant positive impact holistic retirement income planning can have on your employees and company.

Digital Transformation: Efficient Delivery of a Brand Promise
As technology continues to rapidly evolve and participant expectations increase, how can you transform your digital back office to obtain a strategic advantage over your competition while complying with growing fiduciary and regulatory obligations? Plan participants have come to expect a certain experience and level of interaction in their daily lives, including account information, education and intelligent planning in one digital location. This session will discuss the digital trends in the industry, how intelligent analytics and experience-driven technology can provide the platform for the efficient delivery of a brand promise. Discussions will include how digital integration can streamline the way that propositions are delivered, allowing organizations to move into new markets and reduce friction across their ecosystem of partners, customers, regulators and stakeholders.

Evaluating Your Recordkeeping Platform: Are You Well Positioned for Future Business Success?
* In today's environment with heightened regulatory and fiduciary pressures and increasing fee compression, does your firm perform regular platform due diligence?

* How does your platform compare to best-in-class competitors?

* Product and process innovation will help foster improved cyber insurance solutions and extend available cover. Innovations include common standards for capturing, sharing and reporting data about cyber incidents, and greater use of smart analytics to improve threat detection and risk assessment.

The Case for Robotic Automation in Retirement
As the retirement industry continues to be challenged with tight margins and high operating cost, many providers are seeking technology solutions to reduce cost and improve efficiencies as well as to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and Cognitive solutions are actively being explored and implemented to address immediate pain points, while also being leveraged to support longer term business and technology transformations. Deloitte believes with full deployment of RPA across the Retirement Value Chain, potential cost take-out opportunity of 15% - 20% can be achieved. RPA and Cognitive solutions are also enabling new opportunities and potential revenue streams for wealth and retirement organizations by providing a low cost, highly scalable operating model to achieve strategic objectives.

Driving Participant Readiness for Better Retirement Outcomes
Plan providers play an important role in helping participants improve their retirement readiness. Over the last several years, DC providers have invested heavily in their online platforms by adding better tools, more resources, and improved usability. In this session, Andrew Way will lead a discussion that highlights best practices from leading DC providers on the participant and plan sponsor websites geared toward improving participant engagement and generating better outcomes. Drawing from recent survey work and other research, Andrew will discuss current trends and how they may influence future enhancements meant to further the industry's ability to generate better retirement outcomes for participants.

Connecting Corporate Executive Talent with Community Social Impact Organizations
While many see our aging society as a problem, Encore sees an opportunity to share knowledge. Those in and beyond midlife represent a powerful source of talent with their accumulated skills, experience and wisdom to tackle some of society's most urgent challenges. By connecting this talent with community non-profits, foundations and other social institutions, we can create a better future for generations to come.

In this session, we will hear from Janet Shaw, Program Director, Encore.org., about the Encore Fellowships Network and why sponsoring Fellowships as a retirement benefit is good for the corporation, employees and the community. Janet will be joined by Encore Fellow, Kevin Vericker, supported by IBM to do work in the community and Raul Hernandez, Chief Service Officer of the City of Miami who will share their stories and benefits of being and hosting an Encore Fellow.

For more information about sponsorship and speaking opportunities, contact Marlene Jung at 860-658-5058 or marlene@sparkinstitute.org.

Past Sponsors