DOL Update 11/28

URGENT DOL NEWS: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR EXTENDS TRANSITION PERIOD FOR FIDUCIARY RULE EXEMPTION

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced an 18-month extension from Jan. 1, 2018, to July 1, 2019, of the special Transition Period for the Fiduciary Rule’s Best Interest Contract Exemption and the Principal Transactions Exemption, and of the applicability of certain amendments to Prohibited Transaction Exemption 84-24 (PTEs). This follows public comment on a proposed extension that was published in August.

The extension gives the Department the time necessary to consider public comments submitted pursuant to the Department’s July Request for Information, and the criteria set forth in the Presidential Memorandum of Feb. 3, 2017, including whether possible changes and alternatives to exemptions would be appropriate in light of the current comment record and potential input from, and action by the Securities and Exchange Commission, state insurance commissioners and other regulators. The President directed the Department to prepare an updated analysis of the likely impact of the Fiduciary Rule on access to retirement information and financial advice.

During the extended Transition Period, fiduciary advisers have an obligation to give advice that adheres to “impartial conduct standards.” These fiduciary standards require advisers to adhere to a best interest standard when making investment recommendations, charge no more than reasonable compensation for their services, and refrain from making misleading statements.

Further, between now and July 1, 2019, when the exemptions’ remaining conditions are scheduled to become applicable, the Department intends to complete its review under the Presidential Memorandum and decide whether to propose further changes.

The Department has also announced an extension of the temporary enforcement policy contained in Field Assistance Bulletin 2017-02 to cover the 18-month extension period. Thus, from June 9, 2017, to July 1, 2019, the Department will not pursue claims against fiduciaries working diligently and in good faith to comply with the Fiduciary Rule and PTEs, or treat those fiduciaries as being in violation of the Fiduciary Rule and PTEs.

Source: United States Department of Labor

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3 Ways to bridge the Gender Savings Gap

This post originally appeared on the National Life Group Main Street blog on 3/9. By Maria McLendon.

When it comes to savings, the gender savings gap is huge. A recent study[1] indicated that women have 50% lower savings than their male counterparts. There are a number of reasons that this disparity exists, among these are that, on average, women earn lower salaries than their male counterparts and will spend fewer years in the workforce. However, there are actions that women can take right now, that will help improve their savings and provide a bridge to end the gender savings gap.

1) Start Now

The very first step to eliminating the Gender Savings gap is for women of all ages to start saving now. If you are a parent of a young daughter, start saving on her behalf—even if it is coins in a piggy bank. If you are a young woman just starting your career, start saving now—even if it is just a few dollars a week. By the time you are in your 30s, you should be saving 10-15% of your income and the sooner you start, the more quickly you can get to that rate of savings.

2) Make Consistent, Incremental Increases

Commit to increasing your rate of savings every year. Increasing the amount you save by just $25/month every year could mean that you will have $5,000 more in retirement savings, and an increase of $150/month[2] every year could mean more than $34,000 in savings when you get to retirement.

Check out this image for more ways that incremental increases can make a positive impact on your long-term savings balance.

3) Keep Things Balanced

Make sure that at least a portion of your savings is in lower-risk products that are not subject to loss from economic or stock market volatility. Fixed Annuities and Fixed Indexed Annuities are insurance products that offer guaranteed[3] rates of interest, protect your principle and interest from loss due to market downturns (assuming you don’t make any early withdrawals), and can offer the advantages of tax-deferred savings when part of a retirement plan.

The surest way to make change is to take action. Do something today to help close the gender savings gap for tomorrow.

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[1] Women versus men in DC Plans, Vanguard white paper, October 2015.

[2] Assumes a 3% rate of return for 15 years before taxes are assessed. This is a hypothetical example for illustrative purposes only – not representative of any particular investment or insurance product.

[3] Guarantees are dependent on the claims paying ability of the issuing Company. Because they are meant for long-term accumulation, most annuities have surrender charges that are assessed during the early years of the contract if the contract owner surrenders the annuity. In addition, withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ may be subject to a 10% Federal Tax Penalty. All withdrawals made from annuities with pre-tax contributions are taxed as ordinary income. All withdrawals from an annuity purchased with non-qualified monies are taxable as ordinary income only to the extent there is a gain in the policy. Indexed annuities do not directly participate in any stock or equity investments. This is not a solicitation of any specific annuity contract.

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Top Retirement Trends for Baby Boomers

With the first baby boomers retiring from the workforce in large numbers, many are wondering how the new retirees are supporting their new-found free time.

A recent Census Bureau report gathered data on the most recent non-workers, and the following 11 facts from the survey point to trends.

  1. America is getting older. While the nearly 40 million Americans age 65 and older currently make up 13 percent of the total population, the 65+ set will rise to 20 percent of the American population by 2030. Within that time, the American median age will increase from 37.2 years to 39.6 years—a surge from a median age under 30 in the 1960s and ’70s.
  2. But Americans are still young relative to the developed world. While the United States is aging rapidly, Canada, Japan, and the majority of Europe have older populations in comparison.
  3. Diversity among the “graying” America. Approximately 15 percent of whites polled are over the age of 65, whereas 9.4 percent of the Asian respondents, 8.8 percent of blacks polled, and 5.5 percent of Hispanic survey takers were over 65.
  4. Where are more seniors living? 11 states have more than 1 million people age 65 and over, with California topping the list at 4.3 million. Florida, West Virginia, Maine, and Pennsylvania round out the top five. Bringing up the rear in senior citizen proportions are Alaska, Utah, and Texas.
  5. Longer life. The average life expectancy for a 65-year-old American male is 17.7 years, and 20.3 years for a 65-year-old American female. Both figures are gains of 3-4 years compared to the previous generation. Senior citizens that are 75 years old can expect to live another 11 years if they are men and 13 additional years if they are women.
  6. Tipping the scales. Though health risks due to smoking are decreasing with diminishing numbers of smokers, a higher percentage of obese people are increasing the well-being risks that come from the condition. Obese people face impaired mobility, a greater risk of death, and the increased chances of being placed in a nursing home.
  7. What’s killing us now? While heart disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death for elderly Americans (a trend seen over several decades), Alzheimer’s disease has moved up to fifth place from seventh in 2000. Meanwhile, the suicide rate among those 65 and older was down to 14.9 per 100,000 people in 2010 from 19.7 per 100,000 in 2000.
  8. Largely independent. Citizens ages 65-69 have an average yearly income of $37,200, but this dips to slightly less than $20,000 for those over the age of 80. Income sources include Social Security (37 percent), working (30 percent), pensions (19 percent), and investments and savings (11 percent). Retirees that are younger generate more income through employment, and older retirees generate more income through Social Security.
  9. Working late. Although 65 percent of employees retire when they hit 65 years old, those still working after that age do so on a part-time basis. Those with higher-education degrees and divorced women are more likely to be in the workforce for the longest periods of time.
  10. Kings and Queens of their castles. People ages 65 and older have the lowest poverty rate compared to other age groups. In addition, the percentage of homeowners in the same age group (81 percent) has remained even, while the percentage homeowners under age 35 have decreased from 43 percent in 2006 to approximately 37 percent today.
  11. Still together after all these years. The percentage of married people in their late 60s to early 70s has been steady at about 75 percent for five decades. The amount of widows has contracted due to more women getting divorced, as well as more men increasing their longevity. Asians that were polled were more likely to remain married as they aged, with whites, Hispanics, and blacks trailing in numbers.

As life expectancy continues to increase with greater focus on health, exercise and nutrition as well as improving technology, the Boomer generation is going to realize increased stress on their retirement savings. Those who have not saved enough may face becoming dependent upon government assistance and insurance like Social Security or may be forced to take equity from their homes.

Seniors who don’t want to compromise the retirement lifestyle they’ve always dreamed on might strongly consider alternative savings and investment products. The ideal outline of these products might combine savings protection with interest earnings and the guarantee of income that you can’t outlive.

Products like fixed indexed annuities, especially when combined with lifetime income riders, provide a compelling solution for those in or facing retirement.

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Why turning Employees into Brand Ambassadors matters?

Typically, you might think of brand ambassadors as someone who promotes or buys your product/services and shows consistent support online.

That support can be through social media channels, email, review sites, and other services.

While that is a somewhat accurate view, many companies fail to realize how important turning their own employees into brand ambassadors is for their brand success.

The relationships your employees have with their networks – which likely include potential customers, prospects, and hires – are stronger than any relationship the people in their networks may have with your brand. Yet, before we dive into why getting employees to be brand ambassadors matters, let’s clearly define exactly what it means.

WHAT IS A BRAND AMBASSADOR?

A brand ambassador is someone who promotes a brand and its products to their network with the objective of increasing brand awareness and driving sales.

Historically, a brand ambassador was typically a celebrity or someone with a good amount of name recognition who was paid for their efforts to promote a brand or products.

Yet, this definition is expanding and has expanded to employees of an organization. In the past, notable ambassadors for businesses mainly have been founders and executives.

However, in recent years and with the rise of social media, non-executive employees from all departments have and can become effective brand ambassadors.

There certainly has been a shift and expansion in who is considered a brand ambassador and for businesses, employees should be the top candidates.

WHY EMPLOYEES BEING BRAND AMBASSADORS MATTERS

MARKETING AND SOCIAL REACH

By turning and enabling employees to become brand ambassadors, you can greatly increase marketing and social reach of your company.

During our employee advocacy guide research, we found some interesting stats:

  • Employees have an average of 1,090 social connections
  • Employees also have 5x more reach than corporate accounts

Additionally, a Nielsen study showed that 84% of people trust recommendations from friends, family, colleagues over other forms of marketing.

Now, if your company has a few hundred employees who are active brand ambassadors (sharing content, promoting job and the products, etc.), you can easily grow your company’s overall marketing and social reach exponentially.

BOOSTS LEADS AND LEAD QUALITY

Another interesting stat, was employees social followers are 7x more likely to convert on the content that is shared (source). This also goes back to the Nielsen study, that people trust recommendations from people they are connected.

Yet, besides giving a boost to the number of leads, the quality of those leads is also improved. Because your employees have authentic relationships with their followers, they have a more direct and trusted connection to your targeted demographic.

Your employees now become the extended lead generators for your company and because of that, the quality of those leads is greatly improved.

INCREASES SOCIAL RECRUITING

Another big to get your employees as brand ambassadors that is often overlooked, is the increase of social recruiting.Your company and others are always looking for top talent to bring to the team and what better way through current employees?If your employees are active brand ambassadors, consistently sharing and talking about the value of their workplace, will certainly attract new talent and candidates who are much more eager to accept a potential job offer.

Many enterprise level companies might not think they have a need for improved social recruiting because their established brand is strong enough. However, even top tier level company job pools can be improved by positive reinforcement from employee brand advocates.

Better to be overwhelmed with excited and high-level quality job candidates then struggle to find any that qualify.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Employees acting as brand

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