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Managing Through the Crisis Webinar Series

Managing Through the Crisis Webinar Series

In light of the rapidly changing environment in spring 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic, DCIIA collaborated with members and other industry organizations to rapidly bring expert insights to plan sponsors and others via a series of webinars around the theme of “Managing through the Crisis.” Here you’ll find an overview of each webinar plus a link to the replay.

We invite you to access an aggregated deck showing results of all of our intra-webinar polling questions and read more about all of our webinar speakers on our speaker page. If you have any questions, please contact us on

CARES Act Topics

Expert Insights for Plan Sponsors

Hosted by: DCIIA, the SPARK Institute, and The Plan Sponsor University / The Retirement Advisor University (TPSU/TRAU)

Plan sponsors and others learned about provisions of the CARES Act (which passed during the webinar), including plan sponsor considerations (like the new “coronavirus-related distribution”) and workforce management implications. Company priorities are currently focused on navigating the crisis and keeping businesses running and people employed, not on their retirement plans. The crisis is shining a spotlight on the need for holistic financial wellness programs. DCIIA’s members are focused on participant communications, responding to inquiries, aggregating and analyzing data, and monitoring the CARES Act.

Speakers: Chris Gaston, Davis & Harman LLP; Michael Hadley, Davis & Harman LLP; Peg Knox, DCIIA; Glenn Spencer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Tom Foster, The Retirement Advisor University.

Read about this webinar in Plansponsor, “CARES Act Passes Congress, Including Retirement Plan Relief” and Pensions & Investments, “Companies eye DC plan contribution delays

Implications of the CARES and SECURE Acts

Hosted by the DCIIA Public Policy Committee and the SPARK Institute

The speakers discussed potential follow-up legislation to the CARES Act that may address issues including multiemployer, RMDs, employer tax credits, and enhanced catch-up contributions. EBSA is on track to complete four SECURE Act projects including lifetime income disclosure and annuity safe harbor guidance. Fiduciary regulation and ESG guidance are expected in the near future. The IRS issued CARES Act FAQs on May 4th – the webinar’s speakers discussed several provisions of the Act in detail, including retirement plan loans, loan repayments, and distributions including RMDs. Plans should talk to their recordkeepers about any provisions that may be automatically rolled out. Plan sponsors are moving to online service delivery models/paper reduction and may have an increased focus on managed accounts, financial wellness, and emergency savings accounts. Match suspensions are being discussed, more in some industries than others.

Speakers: Krista D’Aloia, Fidelity Investments; Rachel Faye Smith, Goodwin; Ben Taylor, Callan; Marla Kreindler, Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

Evaluating Distribution and Loan Provisions under the CARES Act

Hosted by DCIIA’s Plan Design & Administration committee

This webinar focused on distribution and loan provisions under the CARES Act, plan sponsor and participant considerations and pros/cons for various options, and the long-term impact of distributions and loans on achieving retirement goals.

Speakers: Melanie Walker, Segal Marco Advisors; Rennie Worsfold, Custodia Financial; Jodi Epstein, Ivins, Phillips & Barker.

Plan Sponsor Considerations

Impact on Plan Participants

According to an in-webinar poll, most participants are looking for advice or “checking in but staying the course.” Plan sponsors are reiterating messages about having a long-term perspective on retirement investing and the inherent volatility of the markets as well as reminding participants about financial wellness programs and other resources. Plan sponsors’ top concerns include keeping participants on track with saving and investing, digesting the flurry of recent legislation, and monitoring financial impacts on the retirement plan. Impacts of the CARES Act and the evolution of financial wellness programs were also discussed.

Speakers: Rob Austin, Alight Solutions; Dan Basile, Ascensus; Andy Lovell, National Benefit Services; Claudia Step, Empower Retirement; Tim Rouse, SPARK Institute.

Read about this webinar in Pensions & Investments, “401(k) investors hold steady but hungry for info

Cybersecurity Considerations for Plan Sponsors

Hosted by: DCIIA, NAGDCA and the SPARK Institute

This webinar addressed cybersecurity topics of interest to plan sponsors, including the impact of widespread remote working, avoiding current threats, and practical ways to navigate this unfamiliar environment. There are best practices for both back-end and front-end systems, including using good passwords, looking at encryption and infrastructure issues, and generally being aware of privacy and security concerns. Ensure that organizational systems are resilient and examine potential areas of vulnerability. Check your network’s vulnerability to phishing and other scams, as COVID-19 is being used as a “hook.”

Speakers: Brian Gault, Fidelity Investments; Dennis Lamm, Fidelity Investments; David Levine, Groom Law Group; Wendy Young Carter, The Segal Group.

Plan Sponsor Considerations (continued)

Litigation Risk Considerations for Plan Sponsors

The speakers briefly reviewed the previous crisis environment in light of today’s pandemic as well as key aspects of the CARES Act, noting that more legislation is expected. Potential litigation vulnerabilities for plans include cybersecurity, stock drop litigation, CARES Act decisions, fees and expenses, and market losses. Processes and protocols should be reviewed and translated to the virtual environment wherever possible, such as maintaining regular committee meetings. Plan sponsors should review documents (such as the IPS and service agreements) in light of the current environment and assess whether amendments are needed. They should also continue to rigorously document activity related to the plan and review their insurance policies and coverage.

Speakers: Thomas Clark, Wagner Law Group; Melissa Hill, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP; Kristen Colvin, NEPC.

The Future of Emergency Savings

Hosted by: DCIIA, the SPARK Institute, and TPSU/TRAU

According to an in-webinar poll, about 3/4 of the attendees thought that emergency savings accounts will become more available as a result of the current crisis. Different emergency savings scenarios and structures were discussed – each one has potential benefits but also potential regulatory complications, suggesting that without clarity from regulators, employers may be reluctant to adopt more flexible savings programs. The consensus view is that emergency savings should be readily accessible by the employee, who is the one who should determine what constitutes an “emergency” for their situation.

Speakers: Tim Flacke, Commonwealth; David John, AARP; Christine Lange, Prudential Financial; Warren Cormier, DCIIA Retirement Research Center.

Read about this webinar in Plansponsor, "Emergency Savings Post-COVID Will Be Viewed Differently"

Investment, Market and Economy Topics

Investment Lineups

The performance of various investments is still being assessed at this point in the crisis. Market dislocations and volatility have had and will continue to have an impact. Diversification has been seen as beneficial, with asset classes such as private real estate cited. TDF and managed account allocations and performance were discussed. When asked what “trail blazing” DC plan sponsors should be prioritizing, attendees selected lifetime income features and retirement readiness as the top choices. The positive impact of streamlining investment menus was noted. Our expert speakers suggested that plan sponsors focus on taking a holistic view of their participant population, retaining the long-term view, and using the crisis to test the plan lineup – did it perform as needed and if not, what needs to change? Also, be sure to coordinate with your recordkeeper, QDIA provider, and investment consultant in this rapidly changing environment.

Speakers: Katie Hockenmaier, Mercer; Bill Ryan, Aon; Jeri Savage, Rocaton; Kevin Vandolder, DiMeo Schneider; and Michael Andeberhan, MSCI.

The State of the US Economy & the Impact on DC Plans

Our speaker, Dr. David Kelly, Chief Global Strategist, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, discussed implications for the US economy and labor market in light of the coronavirus pandemic and shared relevant data and research. He concluded by noting five key points:

  1. 2020 is the year of the virus, 2021 should be the year of the rebound
  2. Even for lengthy recovery times, returns can be healthy
  3. Market moves have already made portfolios more conservative
  4. Relative value gaps that existed before this downturn persist
  5. With rates so low, equities may provide better income opportunities.

Moderated by Jamie McAllister, Callan.

The State of QDIAs

Hosted by: DCIIA, the SPARK Institute, and TPSU/TRAU

Our expert speakers discussed aspects of qualified default investment alternatives (QDIAs) including how they have performed in this crisis. Insights from new research examining participant decisions during 1Q20 was shared, with one finding noting that professionally managed solutions were significantly “stickier” than participants who were self-directing their accounts (2% vs 17%), underscoring the importance of plan sponsors offering professionally managed investment solutions to participants. Target date fund statistics and performance data was shared, and areas of focus were noted, including glidepath suitability, retirement income, participant experience, financial wellness, and personalization.

Speakers: David Blanchett, Morningstar Investment Management; Joe DeNoyior, Washington Financial Group; Liana Magner, Mercer; Sharon Scanlon, Lincoln Financial Group; Tom Foster, The Retirement Advisor University.

Read about this webinar in Plansponsor, “QDIAs the Best Place for Participant Assets During Downturns