What Robin’s Reading: May 2016

Robin Weingast Reading RecsWelcome to another installment of What Robin’s Reading — our regular feature that gives you an inside look at what the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team is focusing on to stay up-to-date with benefits and retirement planning news.

This month, we continue to monitor the impact of the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule, but with graduation season upon us, we’re also reading up on the investment and benefit trends among the new crop of job seekers. A recent video by Tony Robbins caught our eye — it contains his opinion on a “must invest” for young professionals. Click here to hear what he has to say.

We also read “Millennials & Financial Literacy—The Struggle with Personal Finance,” a fascinating report on the personal finances of millennials. Based on research conducted by The Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at the George Washington University, the report uncovered eight key trends. When it comes to personal finance, millennials:

1. Have inadequate financial knowledge
When tested on financial concepts, only 24% demonstrated basic financial knowledge.

2. Aren’t happy with their current financial situation
When ranking satisfaction on a scale of 1-10, 34% were very unsatisfied.

3. Worry about student loans
When asked about their ability to repay their student loan debt, more than 54% of Millennials expressed concern.

4. Have debt across economic and educational lines
Among college-educated Millennials, a staggering 81% have at least one longterm debt.

5. Are financially fragile
Nearly 30% of Millennials are overdrawing on their checking accounts.

6. Are heavy users of Alternative Financial Services (AFS)
In the past five years, 42% of Millennials used an AFS product, such as payday loans, pawnshops, auto title loans, tax refund advances, and rent-to-own products.

7. Sacrifice retirement accounts
More than 20% of Millennials with retirement accounts took loans or hardship withdrawals in the past year.

8. Don’t seek professional financial help
Even with inadequate knowledge, only 27% of Millennials are seeking professional financial advice on saving and investment.

But the picture isn’t totally bleak for millennials. Another piece from CNBC outlines distinct advantages that the generation has when saving for retirement.

Whether you know a young professional who would benefit from advisement, or you want to make sure your own personal finances are in order, the Robin S. Weingast team is here for you. Contact us today for an appointment. Our team of experts is ready to make sure you and your loved ones are on track to meet your financial goals.

Need To Know: 2015 Pension Plan Limits

It’s a new year and that means something important for your retirement plan – new contribution limits. In 2015, the IRS has raised pension plan limits to reflect cost-of-living increases. There are new limits for 401(k)-related plans as well as others. We’ve summarized the new limits (and given you a six-year overview of plan limits) in this helpful chart:Robin_Weingast_Plan_Limits

Based on these new limits, it’s more important than ever for you and your employees to review your retirement plans. The Robin Weingast & Associates team is here to help you understand the new limits and make sure you maximize their potential and opportunities. Contact us today to make sure your benefits are working for you.

Countdown to New Year’s Eve

Robin Weingast Retirement SolutionsOn New Year’s Eve, most of us will be counting down until the stroke of midnight, when we can wish our friends and family a happy and healthy 2015. But December 31 is an important deadline in the world of retirement planning. As detailed in this article,  New Year’s Eve is the deadline for most 2014 required minimum distributions to be made. The RMD for 2014 is based on the taxpayer’s life expectancy on Dec. 31, 2014, and their account balance on Dec. 31, 2013.

There are some exceptions, particularly if you are still working or if you reached age 70 1/2 in 2014, but you should take note and be sure not to miss this important deadline!

If you have any questions about how to be compliant with this deadline or to explore if you are eligible for an exception, please contact the Robin Weingast and Associates team today.

 

 

What you Need to Know in 2015

2014 is coming to an end and the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team has been busy preparing for 2015. We value working with our clients and want to give you the most current information on what you have to look forward to in the new year.

As we told you in October, the IRS issued information geared towards helping to increase the use of income annuities in 401(k) plans. Plan sponsors can now voluntarily include deferred income annuities in a target date fund used as a default investment, making it easier for employees to consider using lifetime income. We posted the full announcement and would be happy to speak with you about how to take advantage of these new important guidelines.

Beginning in 2015, the IRS increased retirement fund contribution limits. This change reflects cost-of-living increases and could have major implications for you and your employees. Click to expand this graphic and se what the new limits are.

Robin_Weingast_new_IRS_limits

New York-based businesses should know that on December 31, the statewide hourly minimum wage for non-exempt (i.e., hourly) employees will rise from $8.00 to $8.75 (and then to $9.00 on December 31, 2015). Just as significantly, the minimum weekly salary for certain exempt employees – executives and administrators – will also increase on December 31: from $600.00 to $656.25 (and then to $675.00 on December 31, 2015). The wage increase also affects those in the food service and hospitality industries. You can read more about it here (the post also contains information about minimum wage changes in other states).

There are some small changes to the Affordable Care Act that may impact your business. This site summarizes everything that will change in 2015, and we are happy to talk through what these changes mean for your benefits plans and for your business.

Earlier this year, we let you know that the IRS announced an 2016 deadline for pre-approved document restatements. Here’s a refresher on what that means for you. Remember that our team is here to help you with this process.

We hope you found our Need to Know Blog, monthly resources, and updated newsletters a valuable source of must-have information. If you have any suggestions for topics we should cover, please contact us and we’d be happy to cover them on our website.

The Robin Weingast team is ready to offer guidance and help you develop solutions and innovative approaches to respond to any new regulatory changes. We look forward to making 2015 a happy and successful year for you.

Resource of the Month: Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business

Robin_Weingast_small_businessThere are over 27 million small businesses in the United States, and small businesses have accounted for 64% of the country’s job creation in the past 20 years. A small business is an independent company with fewer than 500 employees, and it’s becoming clear that small businesses are a vital part of the economic landscape.

The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team knows that small business owners are often so busy with the day-to-day realities of running their companies that it can be a challenge to find time to focus on other important areas – areas like employee benefits. That’s where we come in: using our 30 years of expertise, we work with small business owners to create custom plans that are tailored to each company’s specific goals and needs.

A key part of an employee benefit plan is a retirement savings plan. Retirement savings plans are not only beneficial as recruitment and retention tools, they also offer significant tax advantages to business owners. They are the cornerstone of a strong employee benefit plan, which is why this month’s resource is devoted exclusively to that topic. If you’re a small business owner, than download “Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business” today. This guide from the IRS offers a thorough look at the advantages and options that small business owners have for offering retirement plans.

Download “Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business” today.

If you’re a small business owner who wants to make sure you’re offering a competitive and financially advantageous benefits package to your employees, then download our resource and contact us today. Our team of experts will evaluate your current plan and recommend changes that work for you, your staff, and your bottom line.

The Robin S. Weingast & Associates “Resource of the Month” is a monthly feature that offers a resource guide about an important aspect of your business—including retirement plans, life insurance policies, and much, much more. Each resource guide that we feature will be available for you to download so that you can access our Resource of the Month whenever you need it. It’s the knowledge you need, right at your fingertips! Explore our Resource of the Month series.

Need to Know: Five Things You May Not Know About Your 401 (k)

Robin Weingast can help with 401 (k) planningAt Robin S. Weingast & Associates, we believe a large part of our work is keeping our clients well informed about the insights and trends that will help them achieve their business goals. We also believe that we have a responsibility to pass along tips and to help shatter myths that may be preventing our clients from succeeding. Our team of experts is constantly reading and staying up-to-date on what’s happening with the IRS, employee benefits, and more.

This month we’re talking 401 (k) plans, which are a well-known – but often not fully understood – retirement plan option that many employers offer. If you need a refresher on exactly what a 401 (k) is, we recommend this basic overview.

Now that you know the basics, here are five things you may not know about your 401 (k):

1) If you leave your job, you can roll your 401 (k) over to an individual plan with no tax penalty.
Many people think that any 401 (k) distribution will incur a penalty, but that simply isn’t the case. If you change employers, any plan will allow you to roll over to an established IRA. If you have multiple plans, it’s best to consolidate them.

2) Your 401 (k) is creditor-protected by law
The great thing about this is that your 401 (k) funds are protected – no matter what. That’s why we advise our clients never to use their 401 (k) funds to pay off a debt or avoid bankruptcy. Your funds will be protected, and you should only use them for retirement.

3) Age 55 is important
Most people assume that age 59 1/2 is the point at which they can begin receiving distributions from their 401 (k) without the standard 10% early withdrawal penalty. However, there are certain instances when you can receive distributions beginning at age 55, particularly if you leave your employer after 55 but before 59 1/2. Make sure you discuss these provisions with your plan provider.

4) Using an automated portfolio is a smart strategy
As much as we might want to pick-and-choose our own investments, most plans offer incredibly valuable automated resources. In some instances you simply select a year that aligns most closely with your anticipated retirement date and your plan will allocate your assets across many platforms and the plan will adapt over time as you near your retirement date. In other cases, you may need to articulate how aggressive or conservative you wish to be with your investments, and the plan will compile an appropriately aligned portfolio of investments. Whatever is available, an automated plan makes sense and makes life much easier.

5) Consider Stable Value Funds
If you are close to your retirement (or even if you’re not), consider allocating some of your 401 (k) assets to a Stable Value Fund, which is a special class of fund that most plans offer. The value won’t vary with the market nor will it be impacted by adjustments to interest rates the way bond funds do. As you get closer to retirement, it may make sense to move a few years’ worth of anticipated funds into a Stable Value Fund, so that you can at least have the peace of mind knowing that your first few years of retirement income will not be impacted by market variables.

Need additional assistance managing your 401 (k)? The Robin Weingast & Associates Team is always available. Contact us today. We’re happy to help and happy to answer any questions!

Source: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-smarter-mutual-fund-investor/2014/05/19/7-things-i-wish-people-knew-about-401k-plans

Robin Weingast & Associates Cash Balance Series: Putting Cash Balance Plans in Context

Robin Weingast Putting Cash Balance Plans in ContextDefined Contribution Plans

Before we can really discuss what a Cash Balance Plan is, it’s important to have some general background information to put the discussion in context. A defined contribution (DC) plan, such as a 401(k) profit sharing plan, dictates the contributions that go into the plan each year. Contributions, which are usually discretionary, include employee salary deferrals, employer matching contributions and employer profit sharing contributions. The maximum amount a participant can receive in a DC plan each year is $49,000 for those under age 50 and $54,500 for those age 50 or older. These contributions and the investment returns they generate determine a participant’s ultimate retirement benefit.

A defined benefit (DB) plan promises a benefit using a formula that is usually based on compensation and years of service. For example, a DB plan might provide an annual benefit equal to 1% of average compensation for each year of service. If a participant has average compensation of $65,000 over 10 years with the company, the annual benefit is equal to $6,500 ($65,000 x 1% x 10 years of service) for the rest of the participant’s life.

Rather than limiting contributions, the IRS limits the maximum annual benefit a DB plan can provide to a participant to $195,000 per year. The contribution is a function of how much is needed to fund the promised benefits. While there are a number of variables, the following table summarizes the tax-deductible contributions to fund maximum benefits for DB participants of different ages:

Robin Weingast and her team can provide you with all the information you need about Cash Balance Plans

The employer is said to bear the investment risk because the higher the return on investment, the lower the portion of the funding that must come from the company and vice versa. To the extent a DB plan is not fully funded, contributions are generally required each year.

The next part of our series will focus on clarifying what a Cash Balance Plan is, and explaining various important elements. If you missed Part 1 of our series, you can catch up here.

If you have questions about Cash Balance Plans and if they are right for your business, the Robin Weingast Team is here to help. Please contact us and we would be happy to answer all of your questions.

About the March 15 ADP/ACP Test

Robin Weingast Graph ImageWhat is the ADP/ACP Test?
The ADP/ACP test, which stands for Actual Deferral Percentage/Actual Contribution Percentage, is a test that determines your plan’s equitability and ensures that all participants benefit in a non-discriminatory manner. More highly compensated employees—typically owners, executives, or upper level managers—may not benefit disproportionately from the plan’s 401(k) feature.

Why does ADP/ACP test matter?
In addition to being an IRS requirement, The ADP/ACP test is one of the more significant tests of the year because you will have to deal with the results of the test and be mindful of the test’s outcome for the entire year. Because of that, the plan sponsor will consistently be paying attention to the many factors that impact the test results.

In addition, missing the deadline can result in penalties if the adjustments, if required, are not made before March 15.

What impacts the ADP/ACP test?
The ADP/ACP Tests primarily exists to make sure that employers are not running 401(k) plans that primarily benefit owners and highly paid employees. For example, a plan may be either (a) structured to, or (b) in actual operation, provide disproportionally low benefits to rank and file employees. How? An example of a structural violation would be providing matching contributions only to those who contribute large amounts to the plan each year. Obviously, highly compensated employees are in a much better position to make such contributions. In this way, they are benefitting significantly more from the plan. An example of an operational violation would be high levels of employee participation by highly compensated employees and very much lower levels by rank and file employees.

The ADP/ACP Tests are set up to ensure that inequities between rank and file and owners/highly compensated, that exceed permitted IRS differentials, do not exist.

How does the ADP/ACP test do that?
Step one: Your employees are separated into two groups—highly compensated and non-highly compensated.

Step two: The ADP/ACP test evaluates the average contribution percent of each group. The average contribution percent of the non-highly compensated group directly controls the allowable average of the highly compensated.

What can I do to prepare for the ADP/ACP test?
Testing plans is a complex process, and the IRS requires many different kinds of tests for each plan.

At Robin S. Weingast and Associates, we focus on IRS Tax Qualified Retirement Plans that, when properly designed, will allow the business owner, family members, and even key employees to contribute higher amounts than the test would normally provide, if certain contributions are made by the employer to the plan.

These are called Safe Harbor contributions, and will allow the overriding of this test so that the highly compensated employees can indeed benefit to a greater extent.

Custom Designed Plans that Favor Owners, Officers and/or Highly Compensated Employees
Robin S. Weingast and Associates, Inc. specializes in custom designed plans that “legally discriminate” in favor of selected classes of owners/employees. These plans can be designed to maximize contributions to the selected class(es) while providing the minimum benefits that the law requires to all other plan participants.

The result is a highly effective and efficient retirement savings vehicle for the selected classes.

Our team can provide this value added service and is equipped to advise and conduct ADP/ACP tests, as well as the many other tests required by the IRS. If you would like a free consultation, please contact us, and we would be happy to work with you.