Penchecks Blog

The PenChecks Blog: What You Need to Know About Today’s Pension Benefits Distribution Issues

From IRS and Department of Labor updates to new trends in pension benefits distribution technologies, there’s a lot to keep up on in the retirement benefits distribution world. Whether you’re a retirement plan provider, plan sponsor or third-party administrator, you can count on the PenChecks blog to keep you in touch with the latest issues and happenings in the retirement benefits distribution industry.

A Year to Remember

To paraphrase the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, “2020 is a year that will live in infamy”. We’re only halfway through the year, yet the COVID-19 pandemic has already shaken our world in ways nobody could have foreseen... more

Core Values: The Secret to Successfully Working Remotely

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned everyone’s world upside down – especially for companies that have been forced to work remotely. more

8 Tips to Help Businesses Find Lost Money

Businesses know about escheating unclaimed property to the states. Yet, most never think of looking for listings for their own company. Those that do often find unexpected windfalls. more

8 Tips You May Not Know About to Find Missing Money

Are you out of work? Underworked? Looking for something to do while social distancing? more

The CARES Act – Phase 3 of the Federal Government’s Response to COVID-19

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) was signed into law. At $2 trillion, the CARES Act is the largest economic stimulus and relief package in U.S. history. more

PenChecks is here for you during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 virus is disrupting business in ways none of us could have anticipated. During this difficult time, PenChecks is fully prepared to support you in keeping your business operating as smoothly as possible. more

Other Matters That Matter – Part 2

In this installment of Other Matters That Matter, we’ll take a quick look at two different but very important developments on the regulatory horizon. more


Many studies have shown that Americans are not saving enough for retirement. A surprising number of employees still do not even have access to a 401(k) savings plan. more

PenChecks and Cyber Security: We’ve Got Your Back

At PenChecks Trust™ we’re in the business of providing solutions to the retirement plan industry. Most of those solutions involve payment processing services and the care and administration of missing participant assets. more

Can Your Plan Records Be Hacked? Plan Fiduciaries Need to Focus on Cybersecurity

Imagine you have a plan participant who suddenly finds that $99,000 has been stolen from her account by a hacker. Her only notice was confirmations she received after the money had been stolen. more

Still Changing the Retirement Distributions Industry After 25 Years

Twenty-five years ago, 30 people from the retirement plan TPA community got together for a weekend to talk openly about what we liked and didn’t like about our industry. more

Focus on Your Customer’s Customer

One of the things that makes operating a business exciting these days is answering the following question: “Who is our customer?” In the past, companies had much greater clarity on this topic, and it was typically the person paying the bill. more

Other Matters that Matter

With the retirement industry’s emphasis on the SEC’s Reg BI and what is the DOL going to do, as well as DOL and Treasury regs for MEPs, other matters may go unnoticed. Some “other matters” may be lower impact. Others may foretell new or significantly different requirements. more

Becoming an ERISA fiduciary doesn’t require any specific experience or certification. You don’t even need to acknowledge that you are a fiduciary. If you act like a fiduciary – such as by selecting investments or ruling on participant claims – you are one. It’s that simple. more

DOL Enforcement Priorities & Terminated Participants

Fair Warning: The retirement plan space loves its abbreviations and acronyms. And the DOL is no exception. I certainly use them (sometimes to the dismay of my colleagues). more

Businesses Can Find Missing Money Too!

There’s a lot happening in the world of unclaimed property. The Little Book of Missing Money: A Quick and Easy Guide to Finding Money that is Rightfully Yours... more

The Customer Support Function Paradox

The customer support function is one of the most important drivers of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Yet, it is sometimes overlooked and underappreciated, except to the constituency that is most important to your business – your customers. more

Is New Pension Law on the Horizon?

With the mid-term elections behind us, I see reason to be optimistic that a post-election pension bill could be passed by year-end. Two bills, the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA) and the Family Savings Act, have broad support in Congress and could be folded into any year-end tax bill. more

The Fiduciary Rule May Be Dead, But Fiduciary Responsibility Isn’t

It finally happened. The Fiduciary Rule officially died on June 21 when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals formally entered its order vacating the Rule. The Trump Department of Labor (DOL) declined to either file for a rehearing or request Supreme Court review. more

Reasonable Cause for a Missed Required Minimum Distribution

Have you ever wondered about the rationale behind required minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement plans? Retirement plans were designed to help build retirement nest eggs by deferring taxation on the contributions and earnings until the funds are withdrawn after age 59½ for use during retirement. more

Four Tips for Preventing Uncashed Retirement Checks

No plan sponsor or TPA likes dealing with uncashed retirement checks. However, when a former employee fails to cash their distribution, the employer still has fiduciary responsibility for the funds. Conducting search efforts to locate the “missing plan participant” takes time and money, and often fails to locate the participant. more

What to Do with Missing Participants and Required Minimum Distributions

These days, problems related to missing and nonresponsive retirement plan participants are causing more problems and creating more uncertainty for plan sponsors and administrators. For example, Lines 4l of Schedules H and I of Form 5500 and line 10f of Form 5500-SF ask, “Has the plan failed to provide any benefit when due under the plan?” more

The Wrong Policy at the Wrong Time – Save the 401k Contribution

America has a nationwide retirement savings gap. Some have even called the shortfall between retirement income and projected expenses a retirement savings crisis. Fidelity Investments says that you need to accumulate three times your income at age 30, seven times your income at age 55, and 10 times your income at age 67 to fund your retirement. more

The Case Against Delaying the Fiduciary Rule – Uncertainty Hurts Everyone

The day of reckoning for brokers and others who have been giving investment advice may get farther away. The Department of Labor (DOL) says it has now requested an additional delay until July 1, 2019 for additional exemption requirements of the Fiduciary Rule. more

Mid-Year State of the Industry Review

Here we are, already half-way through 2017. It’s been an interesting six months, to say the least, especially with the implementation of the new Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary rule. more

Say It Loud And Clear-the Importance Of Good Plan Communications

Good plan communications are an important part of administering a retirement plan. They help participants understand the basic plan rules, which are not easily found in the technical plan documents. more

The Supported Participant-how 401k Plan Design Can Increase Retirement Savings

This is part three of a 3-part series on Participant Education. More than half (54%) of pre-retirees are reported to have less than $150,000 in their 401k accounts. more

The Challenges of Forgotten Retirement Benefits

This is the second installment of a three-part series on participant education. The next installment will discuss plan design changes that can help make participants “retirement ready”. more

The Confident Participant: How To Create An Effective 401k Education Program

This is the second installment of a three-part series on participant education. The next installment will discuss plan design changes that can help make participants “retirement ready”. more

The Educated Participant-how Employers Can Improve Retirement Readiness

This is the first installment of a three-part series on participant education. The next two installments will discuss best practices to structure an effective program and how plan design may be used to assist participants in reaching their retirement goals. more

Is This The End Of The Fiduciary Rule? And Will It Matter?

It finally happened. After months of speculation and weeks of rumors about what the Trump administration was going to do, on Friday President Trump signed an executive order which directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to reevaluate the Fiduciary Rule (the “Rule”). more

What Does 2017 Hold for the Retirement Plan Industry?

Welcome to 2017! With interest rates going up for the first time in a long time and much uncertainty about how our new president in the White House will govern, 2017 promises to be an interesting year. As I peer into the PenChecks Trust crystal ball, I foresee four main issues facing the private retirement plan sector in the year ahead. more

My Two Big Takeaways from the ASPPA Conference

Another ASPPA convention has come and gone, and once again the PenChecks Trust team enjoyed participating in the many learning, networking and socializing opportunities. The conference offered more than 70 workshops on topics ranging from administration and business development to investments and ethics. more

PenChecks Trust and the New DOL Fiduciary Ruling

In April of this year, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a new ruling that redefines the definition of “fiduciary” for those providing investment advice to plans, plan sponsors, fiduciaries, plan participants, beneficiaries and IRAs and IRA owners. more

A Simple Solution to Auto-Portability

In my last blog, I reviewed an article that focuses on the notion of “auto-portability” to make it easier to transfer Default/Missing Participant IRA accounts to a new employer’s plan. While the concept has merit, my opinion is that the solution seems overly complex, and is therefore not likely to be supported by record keepers or plan sponsors. more

Auto-Portability: Default IRA Boon or Bust?

In my last blog, I reviewed an article that focuses on the notion of “auto-portability” to make it easier to transfer Default/Missing Participant IRA accounts to a new employer’s plan. While the concept has merit, my opinion is that the solution seems overly complex, and is therefore not likely to be supported by record keepers or plan sponsors. more

2016 Midyear Overview: Uncertain Times Ahead for the Retirement Industry

The first half of 2016 has zoomed by in a flash. To date, it’s been a good year for PenChecks Trust. But as I survey the landscape I’m not overly optimistic about the long-term direction of our industry. The retirement plan space has undergone significant change in the past few years, much of it in the way of complex new regulations imposed by the IRS and Department of Labor. more

Are Rollover IRAs on the Way Out?

I have long advocated for giving employees more options to manage their retirement plan assets, especially in regards to easier portability when workers change employers or retire. So when I came across an article entitled “Goodbye Rollovers, Hello Stay-Overs”, it got my attention. more

Lower Your Risk of a Department of Labor Audit

No business wants its retirement plan to get audited by the Department of Labor (DOL). But according to a recent article in the Employee Benefit Advisor, companies often make mistakes that can trigger a DOL audit. The article addresses 10 of the most common mistakes, and serves as a good reminder for plan sponsors and TPAs in the retirement plan space not to overlook these areas. more

How Much Do You Really Earn?

In my previous blog, I suggested that the Benefits Consulting and Financial Services Industry could benefit everyone by working with the schools to teach kids basic financial and money management skills. My thought was that we could reverse a troubling attitude I see in today’s younger generation. more

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