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These Terms of Use ("Terms of Use") are made between the undersigned user ("you") and Lord, Abbett & Co. ("we" or "us"). They become effective on the date that you electronically execute these Terms of Use ("Effective Date").

A. You are a successful financial consultant that markets securities, including the Lord Abbett Family of Funds;

B. We have developed the Lord Abbett Intelligence System (the "Intelligence System"), a state of the art information resource that we make available to a limited community of broker/dealers through the Internet at a secure Web site (the "LAIS Site"); and

C. We wish to provide access to the Intelligence System to you as an information tool responsive to the demands of your successful business pursuant to these Terms of Use. Accordingly, you and we, intending to be legally bound, hereby agree as follows:]

1. Overview. · Scope. These Terms of Use (which we may amend from time to time) govern your use of the Intelligence System. · Revisions; Changes. We may amend these Terms of Use at any time by posting amended Terms of Use ("Amended Terms of Use") on the LAIS Site. Any Amended Terms of Use will become effective immediately upon posting. Your use of the Intelligence System after any Amended Terms of Use become effective will be deemed to constitute your acceptance of those Amended Terms of Use.We may modify or discontinue the Intelligence System at any time, temporarily or permanently, with or without notice to you. Purpose of the Intelligence System. The Intelligence System is intended to be an information resource that you may use to contribute to your business research. The Intelligence System is for broker/dealer use only; it is not to be used with the public in oral, written or electronic form. The information on the Intelligence System and LAIS Site is for your information only and is neither the tax, legal or investment advice of Lord Abbett or its third-party sources nor their recommendation to purchase or sell any security.

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4. Your Conduct in the Use of the Intelligence System. You may access, search, view and store a personal copy of the information contained on the LAIS Site for your use as a broker/dealer. Any other use by you of the Intelligence System and the information contained on the LAIS Site these Terms of Use is strictly prohibited. Without limiting the preceding sentence, you will not: · Engage in or permit any reproduction, copying, translation, modification, adaptation, creation of derivative works from, distribution, transmission, transfer, republication, compilation or decompilation, reverse engineering, display, removal or deletion of the Intelligence System, any portion thereof, or any data, content or information provided by us or any of our third-party sources in any form, media or technology now existing or hereafter developed, that is not specifically authorized under these Terms of Use.

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THE UNIFORM COMPUTER INFORMATION TRANSACTIONS ACT OR ANY VERSION THEREOF, ADOPTED BY ANY STATE, IN ANY FORM ("UCITA") WILL NOT APPLY TO THESE TERMS OF USE. TO THE EXTENT THAT UCITA IS APPLICABLE, THE PARTIES HEREBY AGREE TO OPT OUT OF THE APPLICABILITY OF UCITA PURSUANT TO THE OPT-OUT PROVISION(S) CONTAINED THEREIN.

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Practice Management

Employers should auto-enroll employees, offer health savings accounts, and provide financial education online.

This Practice Management article is intended for financial advisors only (registered representatives of broker/dealers or associated persons of Registered Investment Advisors).
 

Having worked as a 401(k) plan consultant and investment advisor for more than 30 years, I have seen a wide variety of plan designs. For example, Apple, Trek Bikes, and IBM all have unique corporate cultures that are reflected in the design of the 401(k) plans they offer their employees.

Your firm has a culture that is expressed in its 401(k) plan, too. I don’t think you should lose that. However, you may want to look at some plan design elements that have become standard in leading-edge 401(k) plans.

These features have been proven as best practices in helping participants achieve retirement-ready balances and are listed immediately below. Following is a section that includes what I believe will be the next wave in 401(k) plan design. Finally, I have shared plan design features that limit plan sponsor liability that all plan sponsors should incorporate into their plans.

Current 401(k) Plan Design Best Practices

Auto-enrollment. With opt-out rates of less than 10%, auto-enrollment has become the most effective way to combat employee inertia at enrollment. If you aren’t auto-enrolling new hires right now, you really need to think about starting soon. Initial default contribution percentages are increasing to around 5% or 6% (from what was the standard 3%).

Auto-escalation. Studies show that participants need to add at least 15% to their 401(k) accounts each year to accumulate a retirement-ready balance. Annual auto-escalation of 1% per year to at least 10% helps them get there. If you are auto-enrolling, you should be auto-escalating as well. They go hand-in-hand.

Immediate 401(k) contribution eligibility. Very few progressive employers make their participants wait to begin making 401(k) contributions. Immediate eligibility for both regular pretax and Roth 401(k) contributions is the norm now.

A stretched match. To encourage a higher level of participant contributions, many employers are stretching their matching contributions over a broader employee deferral. A traditional match had been 50% of the first 6% of employee deferrals (resulting in a 3% employer match). A stretched matching contribution will provide the same 3% matching contribution over a larger employee deferral—25% of the first 12%, for example.

Roth 401(k) deferral option. Many young participants will benefit from a contribution strategy that includes the use of Roth 401(k) accounts. After five years, balances in these accounts may be distributed tax-free (for qualified distributions). Participants who contribute to Roth accounts for their entire careers may build an enormous tax-free balance. Also, your executive group will appreciate having the option to use these accounts to execute tax-planning strategies.

Leakage management. Protecting plan participants from themselves has become an important plan design feature. One way of doing that is eliminating opportunities for leakage by reducing or eliminating plan loan and withdrawal options (unless a hardship exists). Loan balances are often defaulted when participants change jobs, permanently removing assets from their retirement balances.

Participant investment advice. The time when all 401(k) participants have access to professional investment advice from multiple sources is here. Many recordkeepers now offer at least two types of investment advice: algorithm based (think robo-advisor) and a more personalized version (either a proprietary option or through a firm like Financial Engines, or both). Costs range from free to 100 basis points.

Professionally managed balanced option. This normally takes the form of a target date series in most plans. Remember, the vast majority of your 401(k) participants want someone else to manage their 401(k) account for them. Stay away from risk-based solutions, model portfolios, and customized target date series. Although sold as being less expensive, they usually aren't and have a number of inherent problems.

The Next Wave of 401(k) Plan Design Best Practices

Annual re-enrollment. Many employers are re-enrolling non-participating employees each year and defaulting their investment choices into target date options. Use of annual re-enrollments typically increases plan participation to at least 90%.

HSA investment options. If you offer a high deductible health plan, then you should also offer health savings accounts to your employees. It is smart retirement planning for all employees to max out their HSA contributions each year. Since it is possible to carry HSA balances into retirement and use them to pay health care expenses, having investment options in HSAs to help balances grow is becoming more important.

Less profit sharing and more matching. Progressive employers understand that profit sharing contributions are less valuable in terms of motivating participants to contribute than employer matching contributions. If possible, replace any employer profit sharing contributions with employer matching contributions.

Online education. Many progressive employers have realized that their employees need help with financial literacy. Not only will improved financial decision-making skills help them make better employee benefit decisions, but those skills will also help them do their jobs better. These employers are combining financial literacy/wellness education with 401(k) plan education and hiring firms to deploy online access to 10- or 15-minute modules. An online approach ensures that education opportunities are offered to millennial’s where and when they want them—on their smartphones at a time of their choosing.

Litigation Protection Elements

Elect to comply with 404(c). By complying with ERISA section 404(c), employers can shield themselves from lawsuits brought by participants relative to the investment options offered in the plan. Ask your investment advisor to outline what you need to do to comply.

Designate a QDIA. Employers designating a Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA) receive protection from participant lawsuits relative to losses participants may suffer in the QDIA investment. Again, ask your investment advisor to explain.

Safe harbor plan design. If your employee group is small (100 employees or less), it is very likely your owners would benefit from using a safe harbor plan design. These plan designs provide exemptions from non-discrimination testing requirements if a mandatory level of employer contributions is made.

Keep in mind that progressive plan design supports plan objectives that you regularly communicate to your employees. Review your plan soon. Most of these features cost very little to implement.

-by Robert C. Lawton
Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS is the founder and President of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC.

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The information provided is not directed at any investor or category of investors and is provided solely as general information about Lord Abbett’s products and services and to otherwise provide general investment education. None of the information provided should be regarded as a suggestion to engage in or refrain from any investment-related course of action as neither Lord Abbett nor its affiliates are undertaking to provide impartial investment advice, act as an impartial advisor, or give advice in a fiduciary capacity. If you are an individual retirement investor, contact your financial advisor or other fiduciary about whether any given investment idea, strategy, product or service may be appropriate for your circumstances.

The information contained herein has been provided by sources other than Lord Abbett which are believed to be reliable; however Lord Abbett cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

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