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Portal Conductor, Columnist: David Levine, JD

David is the author of the "Inside the Law" column for NAPA Net the Magazine.

He is a principal at Groom Law Group, Chartered. He practices in the employee benefits and tax areas, with a primary focus on matters involving qualified retirement plans, non-qualified retirement plans, and tax-exempt retirement programs. Mr. Levine's areas of service include: the redesign of complex pension, defined contribution, and executive plans arising out of merger and acquisition activities; ongoing, day-to-day counseling of companies with respect to retirement and executive plan issues; in-depth compliance reviews of corporate qualified and non-qualified retirement plans; guidance on retirement plan issues relating to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; design, implementation, and maintenance of governmental and tax-exempt organization retirement and welfare benefit programs; and representation of tax-exempt organizations with respect to issues involving corporate governance, executive compensation, and unrelated business income tax liability. Mr. Levine is the immediate past Chair of the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT).

Article Index

By David Levine, JD 8/31/2023
Competition between service providers can create the incorrect image that the industry is rife with conflict. A common theme in many lawsuits and regulatory investigations is a “conflict” between a party providing services and a benefits plan or plan participants. However, this discussion is often... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 5/15/2023
Innovative solutions hold the potential to improve outcomes for participants. But innovation can be scary in today’s litigious environment. Concepts in the retirement industry come and go — and some stick around. Over the past few years, concepts like convergence, aggregation, decumulation and... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 1/12/2023
Here are four considerations for advisors as the use of plan data in financial wellness solutions evolves. At nearly every conference I attend, there’s a common theme: optimizing participant outcomes through broad-based wellness solutions. These solutions can involve education or guidance—both... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 12/1/2022
Three new trends are emerging in plan litigation. Here are some tips on how to help your clients—and your advisory firm—stay out of harm’s way. As advisors, TPAs, recordkeepers and other service providers are dipping their toes into including cryptocurrency solutions for their clients, the... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 6/1/2022
Over the past several years, two trends have dominated the retirement services industry. First, mergers—whether among advisors, recordkeepers or other service providers—have become an almost daily occurrence. And second, announcements of comprehensive service solutions from increasingly... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 3/9/2022
Like Marty McFly in Back to the Future, our industry is on the cusp of going back in time—not to 1955 but to 2016.  Why 2016? Because, regardless of the Department of Labor’s October 2021 transition relief, we’re headed back into the world of the “fiduciary rule” that is similar to what we had in... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 12/29/2021
Twenty years ago, it was common for fiduciary insurance to be a relatively simple, bundled portion of a company’s overall Errors and Omissions (E&O) coverage. Occasionally, it would be necessary to bring a claim under a fiduciary insurance policy.  However, the world has changed. Today, given... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 9/16/2021
The merger of health, wealth, and retirement. Accumulation and decumulation. Recordkeeper roll-ups. Advisor and consultant aggregator roll-ups. There is so much news in the benefit industry these days, but what is the common thread? Convergence. To some, there is great value in bringing solutions... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 6/9/2021
Washington has shifted again. In 2009, Democrats had complete control of Congress and the presidency. By 2017, complete control had shifted to the Republicans. Now the Democrats are back. One constant is sure to continue: a focus on missing participants in retirement plans. While much of the focus... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 2/25/2021
I recently set up my first computer, an Atari 400 computer from the days of Asteroids and Pong, for the first time in decades. As a kid, I spent hours learning how to program and rewrite existing software on this computer. Eventually, I moved beyond my technology roots and became a lawyer and then... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 11/5/2020
For three years, there was relative peace in the land of Department of Labor guidance. DOL investigations continued apace and memories of the 2015-2017 battles over the DOL fiduciary rule began to fade. Some in the retirement industry even began to believe that the future of guidance lay mainly at... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 8/13/2020
The popular TV soap opera “As the World Turns” ran for 54 years. Given today’s continuously rising wave of benefits litigation, it seems increasingly likely that complex retirement plan litigation will run even longer. However, there is one “turn” in the litigation world that should be top of mind... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 4/30/2020
After years of waiting, the SECURE Act is law. Open multiple employer plans, generally referred to as pooled employer plans (PEPs) under the SECURE Act, can go live in 2021. So what does a plan advisor do now? A key first consideration that will drive many other areas—especially relationships with... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 2/6/2020
In this column in 2019, I addressed topics ranging from cybersecurity (and the emerging wave of lawsuits), to privacy (with the California Consumer Privacy Act right around the corner), and the impacts of the next Presidential election. A common theme for these topics is that they will continue to... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 8/8/2019
The loss of Americans’ privacy through the growing use of their data continues to be a major topic in the media. This focus is now turning to the retirement industry. Plan and participant data plays a key role in our retirement system – from the basic operation of retirement plans, to designing... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 5/7/2019
Every week brings a new story of cyber breaches in the retirement industry. Many of these stories focus on service providers such as recordkeepers. Others focus on data and payroll security at plan sponsors. However, not to be forgotten are cybersecurity challenges for advisors. The SEC's Office... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 1/31/2019
Advisors have long played a key role in advising plan sponsors and their employees on their 401(k) plans. However, as the role of advisor has continued to evolve, another area has garnered a lot of attention — defined contribution health care “accounts.” These “accounts” have been around for... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 11/8/2018
So-called “open” multiple employer plans (MEPs) allow multiple unrelated and unaffiliated employers to participate in a single plan that is recognized as such by both the IRS and DOL purposes. In 2012, however, the DOL put out two Advisory Opinions that effectively closed the door to open MEPs.Ever... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 8/9/2018
Well, here we go again. After years and years spent on the fiduciary rule, we’re back to the start. It truly is "Groundhog Day." At this point, we can all make guesses, but I’m going to refrain from suggesting where the Department of Labor, Securities and Exchange Commission, state legislatures, or... READ MORE
By David Levine, JD 3/29/2018
In 2016, I wrote a column about the rise of litigation and enforcement against plan advisors. At the time, there were only a few lawsuits involving advisors. Now, unfortunately, this concern has come to pass. What should an advisor and his or her advisor organization do now?As our firm has... READ MORE