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READER POLL: The Next Big Thing Is…

Last week we asked you what you thought were the most over-hyped trends – so what do NAPA Net readers think could be the “big” thing(s) in 2019?

Given a choice (and a starting list) to work from – and allowed to pick all that might be a “big” thing, readers cited multiple employer plans (MEPs) by a significant margin. Indeed, it was cited by more than half (56%) of survey respondents, well ahead of the second and third options; 37% each for student loan debt and cybersecurity.

The remainder of the list cited (remembering that more than one option could be selected:

33% - Provider Consolidation
28% - Stock Market Volatility
26% - HSAs
21% - Retirement Income Strategies
16% - SEC Best Interest Standard
14% - Auto Portability
14% - Behavioral Finance Techniques
12% - Emergency Savings Plans
9% - Financial Wellness
9% - Outcomes

Other “things” noted were individual state-mandated fiduciary requirements, MRD, electronic delivery – “if we get guidance per the recent executive order,” location of missing participants, the expansion of retirement plan recordkeeper portals to include budgeting, integration with other employer benefits, and USAs (Universal Savings Accounts).

Indeed, asked to narrow their selection of the big thing to a single item, the standout once again was multiple employer plans, cited by nearly one in five (19%), followed by:

12% - Retirement Income Strategies
11% - Stock Market Volatility
11% - Student Loan Debt
9% - Cybersecurity
7% - Provider Consolidation
7% - Auto Portability

We got a number of reader comments on the prospects for these “big” things. Here’s a sampling:

“Government-run retirement plans will not get any traction. Interest among both employers and employees will be lower than even the most minimal expectations. Any plans that have already been established will be dissolved. Employers and employees do not trust the government with their retirement money. Why? A poorly run Social Security program, government employee ineptitude, huge budget deficits, government debt in the trillions of dollars, and a severely fractured political climate all are contributing factors.”

“I think Trump’s announcement around Labor Day will open the door for the MEP regs to expand. I think this will allow for smaller employers to offer plans to their employees that are less expensive and with better fiduciary protection in place.”

“In general, a lot of these topics are a rehash and I don’t see one dominating the scene in 2018. Cybersecurity has gone way overboard with the participant websites at a few providers. Completely turns off the participants because they can’t even log in and makes it impossible for advisors to try to provide a service by helping the participant get set up online. MEPs are overblown and will not solve all of the world’s problems. State-run IRAs scare everyone I've ever spoken to about it (you really want the state of California or Illinois or New Jersey managing your money?). Portability is wishful thinking.”

“All depends on whether we get legislation, or guidance promised in executive order. Lots of room for deregulation – should D’s win mid-terms, prompting President Trump to pull out his pen and phone in executive orders.”

“If my selections were ‘things I would LIKE to see become a big thing in 2019,’ my list would have been narrowed to outcomes greater usage of behavioral finance techniques, and location of missing participants. Having said that, I believe that 2019 will be the year of the ‘found’ participant.”

“One thing not listed that I think will be huge is participant advice. Delivered from a plan advisor in a non-conflicted way, this is becoming a huge difference maker.”

“Thank goodness we don't have any Y2Ks on the horizon... I can’t think of anything that was more hyped than that!”

“Not: Still can’t quantify ROI of most financial wellness programs. Back to over-hyped: expensive annuities as distribution option from 401ks/403bs. Needs continued improvement: institutional distribution options within 401ks/403bs.”

“Student loan debt in a 401(k) will be a big nothing next year but get hyped up as the best thing to happen to America since winning the Revolutionary War.”

But this week’s editor’s choice goes to the reader who noted, “For cryin’ out loud – I certainly hope DOL audits don’t become a big thing!”

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week’s NAPA Net Reader Poll!