Happy New (401k) Plan Year!

Where did the time go? It’s 2017 already – are you ready for the New Year?

Clients tell us that competition for top employee talent in the marketplace is intense. Congrats on offering a 401k Retirement Savings Plan to your team! Do you know how it “stacks-up”? Consider making a New Years Resolution to get answers to these questions:

  1. How is your performance?

Did you know the S&P 500 was up +12.0% for the calendar 2016? (Or that +5.0% of this was following the US Presidential Election on November 8…) BUT if you missed the 3 best percentage gains days in 2016, the +12.0% gain falls to +4.4%. WOW! Further, the S&P 500 has been “up” the past 8 consecutive years, 13 out of the last 14 years, and 40 of the past 50.1

  1. Do you know how much your 401k plan costs?

If not, don’t panic, you’re not alone. 401k providers can mask various plan costs. Record-keeping. Administration. Custody. Mutual fund costs + other investment expenses. Trading fees. Broker commissions or plan consultant fees. Perhaps an even more relevant question to ask is “How muchshould my plan cost?

  1. Do your employees give a hoot?

How engaged (or not) are your employees in saving for their retirement? Do they “get” how much you are contributing on their behalf in matching or profit sharing? Do they get answers to top questions, like How much should I be saving? Am I on-track? Should I use Pre-tax or Roth after-tax dollars? Remember the adage, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

  1. Do you expect to be audited?

Did you know 1 in 3 plan sponsors experienced a retirement plan audit by a government agency in the past 2 years.2(Not surprising, since the Obama administration beefed-up US Department of Labor staff.) Bottom line is BE PREPARED. Demand regular plan reviews from your advisor. Keep notes – or take Minutes. Know how much your plan costs. Remit employee deferrals timely. Have a written Investment Policy Statement – and follow it!

  1. Has your 401k advisor told you about the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule?

This sweeping reform is causing brokerage firms, insurance agencies and banks to decide how – or even “if” – they will permit their reps to continue to sell and service 401k Plans. Just recently, giants like Merrill Lynch & Edward Jones announced significantchanges to their policies. For example, Merrill says it will no longer allow its reps to be paid a commission on retirement plan accounts3. The rule is scheduled to kick-in on April 10, 20174 and will likely impact you. You deserve to know how.


—Geoff Huber, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CKA® leads Triune’s Corporate Retirement Plans practice. His partners and clients think of him as a “401k Geek” – and he’s proud of it! Triune Financial Partners, LLC is an independent financial advisory firm serving retirement plans, family businesses, professional practices and partnerships. We are your Partner in Conversation. Learn more about 401k Benchmarking here.


  1. BTN Research; January 2, 2017.
  2. Willis, Towers, Watson; September 2016.
  3. Wall Street Journal; October 6, 2016.
  4. Fact Sheet, U.S. Department of Labor. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/fact-sheets/dol-final-rule-to-address-conflicts-of-interest.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Diversification neither assures a profit nor guarantees against loss in a declining market. Investing involves risks including potential loss of principal and fluctuating value. This content is provided for informational purposes, and it is not to be construed as tax or legal advice, nor as an offer, solicitation, recommendation or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services. Triune Financial Partners, LLC is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Copyright 2017, Triune Financial Partners, LLC. We are likely to allow you to reproduce – please just ask us first. Thank you.

What does CARFAX mean for your 401(k)?

Do you remember CARFAX being around when you bought your first used car as a teenager? Probably not, since the company didn’t exist until 1984 — and only served automobile dealers (not the general public) until December 1996. Today, it would be unthinkable to consider a used car purchase without first requesting the CARFAX report, which contains important data about the car you are considering — like its title history, whether it’s been wrecked, flooded or salvaged, odometer readings, and certain accident and service records.

“Let the sleeping dog lie.” “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Some call this conventional wisdom — but that’s not smart when it comes to your 401(k). Because in the world of 401(k) plans, what you don’t know really can hurt you. And for the overwhelming majority of Americans, their 401(k) plan balance will grow to become the largest single asset — and by far their most significant retirement account. So, inspired by CARFAX, Triune now offers its 401(k) Accountability Report.

We offer this report as a FREE service, to help you benchmark four key areas of your 401(k) plan:

Expenses: Do you know how much your 401(k) REALLY costs? Not just the investments — but ALSO the expenses for plan record-keeping, administration, brokerage fees, commissions, etc.? How does this all-in cost compare with what that cost SHOULD BE in today’s marketplace?

Employee Advising: How many people on your team are on-track to retire with dignity someday? Does each of them know if they are on-track? Do you know?

Performance: How do your funds stack up? Are high fund fees unnecessarily dragging down plan balances? Is everyone on your team in a diversified mix of funds that is right for them?

Plan Design & Service: Do you get mileage from your plan’s Roth provision? Do you review your written Investment Policy Statement at least annually? If your plan were audited, could you document that you’ve had regular, meaningful plan reviews?


Inertia is a powerful force in the 401(k) universe, so continuing with a poor performing or costly 401(k) may lead to very disappointing outcomes. Our vision is to come alongside you, to help you be intentional about benchmarking the four elements of your 401(k) that matter the most. To learn more, contact me, Geoff Huber, today at finishstrong@triunefp.comor 913-825-6100.

Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There!

In many areas of life, intense activity and constant monitoring of results represent the path to success. However in investments and retirement planning, that approach gets turned on its head.  Academic research shows that the busier we are with our 401(k) investment mix and the more we tinker, the less likely we are to get good results.

That doesn’t mean that we should do nothing whatsoever. But it does mean that the world’s culture of busyness and chasing returns promoted by much of the financial services industry and media can work against our interests. The consequences are that most investors earn poor long-term returns and don’t accumulate enough for retirement.

We can’t control movements in the market. We can’t control news. We have no say over the headlines that threaten to distract us.  But each of us CAN control how much we contribute to our 401(k), whether we make Traditional (pre-tax) or Roth (post-tax) contributions, and how much risk we take in our investments.

The 401(k) plan sponsor can positively impact his or her employees’ retirement planning experience by helping them learn about and control the variables that matter.

For example, offering professionally-managed portfolios in your 401(k) plan can help immensely.  This is borne out annually in an analysis of investor behavior by research group Dalbar. In the 20 years, leading up to 2012, Dalbar found the average U.S. mutual fund investor underperformed the S&P 500 by nearly 4 percentage points a year.1  This documented difference between market returns and what investors receive is often due to individual behavior:  being insufficiently diversified, chasing returns, making bad timing decisions, and by investing in high-cost, actively managed funds in an ill-advised attempt to beat the market.

To combat this, it is estimated that 55% of all 401(k) participants will be entirely invested in a professionally-managed investment option by 2017.2  Triune believes there is real value in having competent, credentialed, and caring financial planners that will come alongside your team to help them make informed decisions.

For more information, please contact me: ghuber@triunefp.com, 913-825-6100.

  1. Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior, Dalbar, 2013.
  2. How America Saves 2013, The Vanguard Group, Inc., 2013.