Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Attention California School Districts: You ARE Fiduciaries For Your 457(b) Plans

This isn't the first time I've written about this topic and it won't be the last...unfortunately. If you are a board member or a district administrator for a California public school, it's highly likely you are ignoring a significant responsibility and this leaves you open to lawsuits.

Despite what you've been told (in all likelihood by your compliance administrator) you ARE a fiduciary in regards to the 457(b) plan you offer your employees. You don't have to take my word for it, one of the nation's top ERISA attorneys made the case...back in 2006. Yes, you were warned over a decade ago.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

403(b)urnout

You may have noticed that I've posted very little in the past six months, even amidst a torrent of 403(b) news. There is a reason and I'll do my best to explain.

I've been fighting for better 403(b) plans since 1998. I've not been alone in the fight (if you want to read about those who have fought along side of me, pick up my book here). I understand that this fight is not exactly akin to fighting for Civil Rights or other important issues, but it is a meaningful fight and one that needs to be waged. It's just that sometimes you get tired of it, even when you are winning.

To be honest, 2016 burned me out fighting for the 403(b) - despite it being one of the most successful years we've had. It's not the first time I've 403(b)urned out, it won't be the last.

Some of the symptoms of 403(b)burnout:

Not wanting to write about it.

Not wanting to think about it.

Getting a headache when you do think about it.

Despair

Did I mention...despair...

There are more, but those will suffice. Mind you, I didn't give up the fight, I simply took a breather.

Even while feeling the effects of 403(b)urnout I recorded podcasts (some great podcasts by the way and you can listen to them here) and posted articles and answered reporters phone calls. But my heart wasn't always in it. I remember 15 years ago how nervous I was to talk to a reporter and how much I would fret about getting quoted, the second half of last year I almost didn't want to talk to any reporter (except for the amazing and under-appreciated Tara Siegel-Bernard of the NY Times who should win a Pulitzer for her work on 403(b) last year). This was not a problem with the reporters (though Tara did make it difficult to talk to anyone else!), it was me.

I love the 403(b) fight and will continue to wage it, but probably once every three or four years I get 403(b)urnout and I just need to let it run its course. It's taking longer this time, but just writing about it is making it easier. I do take solace in the fact that we've picked up so many allies in the past few years who have willingly taken up the fight and when I'm down, they are up. I know that our numbers are growing and that I'm not that important anymore, this actually helps. We are not done fighting and neither am I, but if you don't see me for a few months every few years...it's ok, I'm just recovering from a bout with 403(b)burnout!

2017 is a new year and there is a lot of potential, for all those out there fighting for positive changes in the government 403(b) world, I commend you and I'm ready to get back on the horse and do battle.

Scott Dauenhauer