Tag: Market Volatility

Market Update – June 4, 2020

As we look ahead to the summer months, we can’t help but think what a challenging year it’s been so far. At the same time, we’re encouraged by the resiliency and accelerated innovation among US businesses and the efforts by our national, state, and local governments to support our communities. And we continue to be amazed by the unparalleled dedication and cooperation among our front-line healthcare professionals and medical researchers to see us through to the other side of this health crisis.

In a similar way, the recent strength of the financial markets appears to be looking beyond continued economic weakness. Much of the economic news has been dismal, and there may be more bad news ahead, but economic data is backward-looking. It’s important to remember that the stock market looks forward.

Economic numbers are still negative, but they aren’t as bad as they were a month ago, and that’s usually been a prelude to things starting to get better. New claims for unemployment are still historically high, but they’ve improved eight weeks in a row, and the total number of people on the unemployment rolls has actually started to drop (US Labor Bureau). Manufacturing activity contracted in May, according to the Institute for Supply Management Purchasing Managers’ Index, but it was better than the prior month for the first time since January. And new home sales actually rose in the most recent US Census Bureau data for April, when they were widely expected to collapse.

Small businesses are anticipating better times ahead, too. In a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small businesses expressed the most optimism about the economy improving than at any time in the last year and a half. And if they expect improvement, they’ll prepare for it—by retaining or rehiring workers, restocking inventories, and continuing to follow best practices for keeping customers safe.

Looking forward also means gauging the ongoing impact of fiscal support. In the United States, Congress is working on a new stimulus package. The European Commission recently announced an unprecedented 750 billion euro stimulus. Japan has announced additional stimulus that could bring its total pandemic response to 40% of that country’s gross domestic product (GDP). While debt levels are rising and may have to be addressed in the future, these current fiscal actions continue to play an important role in limiting any long-term economic damage from the recession.

The stock market may have gotten a little ahead of itself, and there still may be bouts of volatility, but recent gains in the S&P 500 Index are not out of character. Like us, the markets are seeing things to look forward to. Consider the recent rally as the stock market’s version of anticipating dinner out with friends, enjoying a ballgame, or planning a vacation. These may not be right around the corner, and there may be setbacks along the way, but the plans have been made.

 

 

 

Important Information
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of June 3, 2020.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.

All index data from FactSet.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Market Update – May 21, 2020

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

The economic struggles in our country are among the worst we’ve ever seen. In April, a record 20 million people lost their jobs, and 36 million people have filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in mid-March. Record drops in consumer confidence, manufacturing, and spending are all adding to the immediate economic fallout. Specific industries have been devastated, with names like J.C. Penney, J.Crew, and Neiman Marcus filing for bankruptcy.

Clothing sales are down 89%, furniture sales down 66%, and restaurant sales down 49% from this time last year, according to the United States Census Bureau. Yet, as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, these many single defeats won’t necessarily add up to the final defeat. Our country has survived many trying times before, and we are starting to see glimmers of hope on both the medical and economic fronts. Our resolve and fortitude will once again shine, as we head toward better times in the second half of 2020.

More testing for COVID-19 is needed to help identify infected people and to stop the virus from spreading. As testing has soared, the number of positive COVID-19 results as a percentage of total tests has trended lower, and that percentage consistently has been beneath 10%, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. In addition, doctors have developed a “toolbox” of drugs to help provide patients a better chance at survival. Antiviral drugs like remdesivir in combination with other drugs are showing significantly better results now than just a few weeks ago. The World Health Organization has reported “potentially positive data” in several treatments. Although a vaccine could still be a year or more away, human drug trials are underway with encouraging initial results.

In the face of the devastating loss of human life and historically weak economic data, however, the S&P 500 Index has experienced one of its greatest short-term rallies ever, up more than 30% from the March 23 lows at its recent peak. Based on historical trends, a warranted correction in stocks over the coming months may be possible. Stock valuations are historically expensive, tensions are building between the United States and China, the stock market’s momentum is showing signs of waning, and we’re entering the historically weak summer months—all of these are reasons to be alert. History bears this out. All major S&P 500 bear markets in the past 60 years had a significant bounce off the market lows, followed by a correction of about 10% on average before another surge higher. Based on this historical trend, a market correction of 8–12% after the recent big rally may be likely over the coming months.

While current economic data may sound bad, it’s important to remember it is backward-looking. Real-time economic data points such as public transportation, traveler data from the Transportation Security Administration, fuel sales, railroad traffic, and federal tax withholding are all showing improvement as the economy begins to re-open.

Finally, small businesses are the lifeblood of the US economy, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows they employ 47% of all private sector jobs. Recent data showed small businesses are as optimistic about the next six months as they’ve been in 18 months, suggesting the worst may be behind us, and a growing demand for their products and services could be brewing. The pain from this recession is impacting all of us, but better times are coming.

 

 

 

Important Information
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of May 19, 2020.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.

All index data from FactSet.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

How To Get Back In The Market

In your own effort to avoid the ups and downs of the recent market ride, perhaps you made the decision to move your retirement account assets away from equities and into cash. You know you don’t want to sit on the sidelines of the market forever. Weeks later, are you left wondering…

How Do I Get Back In the Market?

Watch this 5-minute video from SRP’s Giorgina Nguyen, CFP®
to hear 3 strategies to get back in the market.
(Hint: she may even share a 4th bonus strategy for SRP participants!)

SRP is here to help.

 

 

 

 

Giorgina Nguyen is a registered representative with, and securities are offered through, LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Global Retirement Partners, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Global Retirement Partners and Strategic Retirement Partners (SRP) are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Global Retirement Partners employs (or contracts with) individuals who may be (1) registered representatives of LPL Financial and investment adviser representatives of Global Retirement Partners; or (2) solely investment adviser representatives of Global Retirement Partners. Although all personnel operate their businesses under the name Strategic Retirement Partners (SRP), they are each possibly subject to differing obligations and limitations and may be able to provide differing products or services.

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market. Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price. Dollar cost averaging involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuation in price levels of such securities. An investor should consider their ability to continue purchasing through fluctuating price levels. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in declining markets An investment in a target date fund is not guaranteed at any time, including on or after the target date, the approximate date when an investor in the fund would retire and leave the workforce. Target date funds gradually shift their emphasis from more aggressive investments to more conservative ones based on the target date. All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

Market Update – May 7, 2020

Investors like labels for the economy and financial markets—many of them with the word “great” in them. The Great Depression. The Great Recession. The Great Lockdown. Well, we’ve moved into what we might call the Great Disconnect. How can stocks have rebounded so strongly in the last month amid so much suffering and economic damage? What’s Wall Street seeing that so many on Main Street are not?

For one, in the United States more than 20 states have already begun to reopen their economies, and others have plans to begin very soon. In Europe, lockdowns are being eased, following Asia’s lead. Even gradual progress like this may help the stock market focus more on what’s ahead than where we are right now.

As lockdown restrictions are lifted, timely indicators like vehicle traffic, electricity consumption, public transportation use, daily consumer confidence surveys, and a wide variety of weekly economic indicators point to a low mark in economic activity in the United States in April. The “Great Lockdown” recession of 2020 may be over already—although it may not be officially declared a recession for several more months.

Nowhere to go but up isn’t normally very reassuring, but to the stock market it may be. Historically, when things have looked their worst, the opportunity in stocks has tended to be the best. The S&P 500 Index has usually hit its bottom and started the climb back up about five months before a recession has ended.

Other factors have helped boost investor sentiment recently. Market participants have gained confidence from the bold stimulus response from policymakers in Washington, DC, and the Federal Reserve. The total amount of the stimulus this year is about 22% of the entire US economy, based on gross domestic product (GDP). During the entire 2008–09 financial crisis, the total amount of stimulus was 16.6% of GDP. And there may be more. Surging unemployment and weakening finances at the state and municipal levels may be catalysts for more action. Though millions of jobs have been lost to this crisis, many millions surely have been saved as well.

The medical community also has provided reasons for optimism. Though no one knows for sure when a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready, rapid progress is being made, and several promising candidates are now in human trials. Testing capacity has also ramped up, while some of the best capitalized and most innovative companies in the world are developing contact-tracing tools to help facilitate safe re-openings. While stocks may have come a bit too far, too fast in the short term, markets are clearly responding to these positive developments.

Reopening the US economy will be a gradual process, and temporary setbacks may be possible. Some of the lost jobs may not return. The possibility of disappointment as the “Great Reopen” unfolds is real. We are facing a tremendous challenge, but it is being met with incredible resilience, resourcefulness, and innovation. Together we will get through this crisis and return to better times.

 

 

 

 

 

Important Information

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of May 6, 2020.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Market Update – April 2, 2020

“Every decade or so, dark clouds will fill the economic skies, and they will briefly rain gold. When downpours of that sort occur, reach for a bucket.” —Warren Buffett

The battle with COVID-19 rages on, and the headlines continue to get worse. The number of new cases and deaths continues to grow. Individuals and companies are hurting, with even an iconic company like The Cheesecake Factory telling landlords they won’t be able to make their rent payments for April. This current situation is a human crisis, and there is no way to put a value on the lives that have been lost. However, we will get past this pandemic, as we’ve gotten past every other crisis, and we will see better times in the future. As Warren Buffett stated, when clouds are dark, that could spell opportunity for longer-term investors.

We’re already seeing some good news on the horizon. The number of new cases may have peaked in Spain and Italy, the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe. Here at home, new cases may begin to slow within the next few weeks, while Seattle, one of the first major cities in the United States to have an outbreak, has reached its peak of new cases. Corporate America is seeing major breakthroughs as well, as Johnson & Johnson announced human testing on its COVID-19 treatment should start by September, and a vaccine may be ready by early next year.

While we wait for containment measures to take effect and for an ultimate cure, the immediate impact to the economy has been devastating. More than 3.2 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week, more than five times the previous record, while US gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to take a historic dive. Remember, the economy can stop by either pumping the brakes or hitting a tree. Our economy has hit a tree, and the short- and long-term impacts of this abrupt halt could be felt for a long time to come.

The double-barreled support from the Federal Reserve (Fed) and Washington’s recent $2 trillion fiscal stimulus plan (CARES Act) won’t fix the root of the problem—only doctors and scientists can—but it may help the economy restart more quickly once the pandemic subsides. Fed Chair Jerome Powell noted we very well may be in a recession, but this isn’t a typical recession, as our economy started from a strong position. The $2 trillion CARES Act, totaling more than 9.3% of GDP, provided an additional boost. For reference, the 2008 fiscal stimulus plan was 5.5% of GDP, showing just how much larger this plan is than anything else we’ve ever seen. These measures may be viewed as a bridge for consumers and small businesses to help them get to the other side, and so businesses are positioned to take full advantage when the economy restarts. The combined monetary and fiscal policy action may be the catalyst to propel a historic bounce back for our economy over the second half of this year.

World War I took more than 15 million lives, only to be followed by the pandemic of 1918, which claimed another 50 million. Very few would have expected to see the boom in technological development, economic growth, and the stock market that followed during the “Roaring ‘20s.” It is always darkest right before the dawn, and our resolve and determination will once again shine through. Longer-term investors may want to consider looking for opportunities to invest in an eventual market recovery, as stocks are in the zone where adding to equity exposure could be quite beneficial. Or as Warren Buffett would say, they better get their buckets ready.

 

 

Important Information

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of April 1, 2020.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

What Retirement Plan Sponsors Need to Know About CARES Act

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act is designed to provide support to Qualified Individuals who are experiencing financial consequence as a result of COVID-19. Qualified Individuals include those quarantined, laid off or subject to reduced hours or those unable to work due to lack of child-care as a result of COVID-19. Please find below a summary of the CARES Act provisions specific to Retirement Plans.

Just because these options are available does not ensure they are financially advantageous. Please consider not only your short-term needs but also your long-term Values & Goals, as well as alternate options, before proceeding. A consultation can help ensure your financial actions are aligned with your Values & Goals.

Retirement Plan Distributions to Qualified Individuals

  • Permits in-service hardship distributions up to $100,000 during the period January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020.
  • Waives the 10% early distribution penalty
  • Taxable, however, 20% federal income tax withholding can be ignored
  • Distribution can be repaid to the plan within 3 years to gain tax-free rollover treatment
  • Can recognize the distribution as taxable income spread over 3 years, effectively spreading federal tax obligations out over 3 years (state tax TBD).

Relaxed Retirement Plan Loan Rules for Qualified Individuals

  • Permits Plan loans up to the lesser of 100% of the participants vested balance or $100,000
  • Individuals with outstanding loans with a repayment due from the date of enactment of CARES through December 31, 2020 may delay loan repayments for up to one year.

Required Minimum Distributions Temporarily Waived

  • Option to waive RMDs for the year 2020.

Most recordkeepers are providing a global amendment to retirement plans, making these options available as soon as administratively feasible, unless the Plan Sponsor elects not to include these options. Plan amendments for these provisions are not required until the last day of the first plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2022 (January 1, 2024 for governmental plans).

 

SRP is here to help.

plantoday@srpretire.com / 866-SRP-401K

 

 

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Global Retirement Partners, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Global Retirement Partners and Strategic Retirement Partners (SRP) are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Global Retirement Partners employs (or contracts with) individuals who may be (1) registered representatives of LPL Financial and investment adviser representatives of Global Retirement Partners; or (2) solely investment adviser representatives of Global Retirement Partners. Although all personnel operate their businesses under the name Strategic Retirement Partners (SRP), they are each possibly subject to differing obligations and limitations and may be able to provide differing products or services.

Market Update – March 27, 2020

The world continues its battle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, which now has likely impacted, either directly or indirectly, nearly every person on Earth. This is far more than just a health crisis—this is a human crisis. Its fearful wake will only be bested by the bravery, perseverance, and hope of a determined world. It is more than just a dangerous illness, it is a test of our resolve.

Resolve requires more than just the courage to stare down the unknown—it is the commitment to overcome it. It all starts with the heroism of the first responders saving lives and scientists working tirelessly to find a cure. It shines on the truck drivers and market workers restocking empty store shelves. And resolve includes the sacrifices of small businesses and working Americans that are delaying the pursuit of economic growth for the temporary social-distancing practices that are helping to contain this pandemic. This unified resolve will be the ultimate cure for COVID-19, but its side effects are proving to be costly: slower economic growth over the short-term, a rise in unemployed Americans, and the resulting volatility we continue to see in the markets.

The unified and massive response of governments around the globe is encouraging. In coordinated action with central banks all over the world, our Federal Reserve (Fed) has already cut rates and announced open-ended asset purchases in a historically aggressive attempt to mitigate disruptions in financial markets and re-establish free flow of credit to consumers, businesses, and state and local governments. Fed Chair Jerome Powell stated that the US central bank stands ready to do “whatever it takes”—echoing the same words that European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said in the aftermath of the Great Recession to keep the Eurozone from unraveling. And, Congress is conducting its last negotiations on what will be at least a $1.5 trillion fiscal stimulus package to rescue struggling businesses and impacted Americans. These monetary and fiscal policy initiatives cannot fix the problem—only scientists and doctors can do that—but they can help “fix” the recovery, by helping to make sure that as many businesses as possible are strong enough to re-start their growth engines to aid the economy as soon as this global pandemic wanes.

Nobody knows when and where this will end. But we have confidence the recovery—for our nation, our economy, and the markets—is around the corner. We also know that the S&P 500 Index is 34% below its all-time high (as of the close March 23, 2020) from just over a month ago and is essentially pricing in the full extent of a recession (historical average is -37% in a recession). Though sell-offs are never encouraging, a bright spot is that this one resembles the severity of the market reactions during past severe pandemics. During the unusually deadly influenza outbreak of 1918, stocks dropped 33% before recovering; about 50 years later in 1969, a dangerous flu pandemic drove markets down 36%. Today, ironically another 50 years or so later, markets have declined a similar amount, which brings to mind the famous Mark Twain quote, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

There are more negative storylines yet to be told in this pandemic as new cases continue to grow in the United States, concern remains elevated, and market volatility reigns. Every day, we are inundated with more and more cancellations—everything from shuttered workplaces to closed schools, cancelled graduations, and restricted public gatherings. But, optimism for the near-term future has not been cancelled. Neither has hope. And, neither has the long-term prosperity of America, our economy, and the prospects for long-term investors to possibly participate in an eventual market recovery. Our future is not cancelled—it has been ignited with our resolve.

 

 

Important Information
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of March 24, 2020.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Market Update – March 20, 2020

Our everyday lives have changed dramatically over the last few weeks as we work together to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know these efforts are necessary, but they also have come at a cost.

Global economic growth has been slowing, the US economy likely will contract temporarily, and US stocks have entered a bear market. Big stock market moves, both up and down, have become the norm. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note has fallen to an all-time low, making borrowing cheaper—but challenging savers. In short, this has been a challenging period for many long-term investors, and you’re asking what’s next and what to do.

Despite elevated uncertainty, we’ve been encouraged by the actions of global central banks and governments to support their economies and stock markets through this challenging period. In the United States, the Federal Reserve (Fed) lowered its policy rate by a full percentage point, the first move that large since the savings and loan crisis, bringing the rate to a target range of 0–0.25%. The full impact of lower rates may have to wait until loan demand picks up, but other Fed actions may provide more immediate support to help financial markets continue to run smoothly, bolster short-term funding, and increase market liquidity.

At the same time, the US government already has passed several measures to support the economy, and it’s currently working on a major fiscal stimulus bill of at least $750 billion. Discussions are still taking place, but provisions possibly could include paid sick leave, expanded medical testing, unemployment insurance, direct financial support for consumers, and relief for some of the most heavily impacted industries.

It can be difficult to keep looking forward with so much uncertainty and so many unanswered questions right now. But for long-term investors, it’s also important to maintain a clear vision of financial goals and the plan for getting there.

Market volatility like we’re experiencing now may provide pockets of opportunity for suitable portfolios. As a recession increasingly is priced into markets, stock market valuations relative to their earnings power and to bond yields have become more attractive. Current uncertainty means taking a careful, measured approach, but for appropriate investors there may even be small ways to consider taking advantage of these potential opportunities.

It’s likely we may see an economic rebound later this year and into 2021 as the outbreak is contained, businesses reopen, and fiscal and monetary policy support expands. The US economy and corporate America have steered their way through world wars and cold wars, financial crises, and geopolitical events. Through even the most challenging times, markets have found their way back to normalcy, and investors have been able to look to the future. There’s no reason to believe this time will be different.

 

 

 

Important Information

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of March 18, 2020.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Retirement Plan Questions During Tough Times

As we are navigating the evolving challenges that come with COVID-19, things are changing very quickly and companies are reacting to news of the public health crisis, changing work strategies including remote work and mandatory closures. Are you asking this question?

 

What can we do about our match and profit sharing if times get tough?

Employers may limit or stop making matching contributions to 401(k) retirement plans during hard times to save cash and sometimes avoid layoffs. Although such a cut is typically temporary, it can derail retirement goals for some employees. It can also create tough decisions for those individuals nearing retirement, such as whether to increase their contributions, reduce goals, or delay retirement.

  1. You must review your plan document to determine if your match is discretionary
  2. Stopping your match mid-year may trigger a true-up match contribution at the end of the year
  3. It requires employee notice
  4. It may create employee morale issues and increase employee uncertainty

 

We have a safe harbor match  or safe harbor non-elective contribution- can we stop this?

Yes, the IRS has changed that so that effective for the 2014 plan year, a mandatory nonelective safe harbor plan or mandatory safe harbor match plan can eliminate the contribution mid-year in two circumstances:

  1. The company is operating at a loss for the year.
  2. The safe harbor notice distributed before the beginning of the plan year indicates that the plan may be amended to remove the safe harbor contribution during the year. If the plan is amended during the year, at least 30 days’ advance notice is required during which time participants must be permitted to change their deferral election, the contribution must be made for compensation paid before the change and the plan must pass ADP/ACP testing for the entire year.

 

We may have to lay off some/many of our employees in light of the mandated changes caused by policies relating to COVID-19- is there anything we should think about with regard to the retirement plan?

Yes, a  plan may trigger a partial termination if more than 20% of your total plan participants were laid off in a particular year.

  1. Partial terminations can occur in connection with a significant corporate event such as a closing of a plant or a division, or as a result of general employee turnover due to adverse economic conditions or other reasons that are not within the employer’s control.
  2. The law requires all “affected employees” to be fully vested in their account balance as of the date of a full or partial plan termination. They must become 100% vested in all employer contributions (including matching contributions) regardless of the plan’s vesting schedule. Employee salary deferrals are always 100% vested.
  3. An affected employee in a partial termination is generally anyone who left employment for any reason during the plan year in which the partial termination occurred and who still has an account balance under the plan. Some plans wait until an employee has 5 consecutive 1-year breaks in service before he forfeits their nonvested account balance. For these plans, employees who left during the plan year of the partial termination and who have not had 5 consecutive 1-year breaks in service are affected employees. See IRC Section 411(d)(3) and Revenue Ruling 2007-43.

If you have specific questions as to what your  plan allows, please call us or your recordkeeper.  As always we are available to talk through any questions or concerns.

 

 

 

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Global Retirement Partners, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Global Retirement Partners and Strategic Retirement Partners (SRP) are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This information is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does advisor assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations.