Public Leaders Agree: Securing Retirement



The Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) has advanced the RISE and SHINE Act aimed at improving retirement security. It is anticipated that the Senate Finance Committee will now add to the drafted legislation before a complete, final retirement-savings reform package is voted upon by the full Senate.



According to Plan Sponsor, the RISE and SHINE Act covers some of the same ground as the Securing a Strong Retirement Act passed by the House earlier this year, but is a distinct measure that includes many interrelated provisions, all focused on ensuring workers can better access and participate in saving for retirement—and that their savings are protected. Specifically, for example, the RISE and SHINE Act includes: “New permissions for plan sponsors to auto-enroll their workers in salary deferral emergency savings accounts, with a maximum auto-enrollment contribution of 3%. Another portion of the bill would require that certain part-time employees who have served 500 hours or more in the prior two years be made eligible for participation—though such workers could still be excluded from plan eligibility for reasons other than their part-time status.”


With elected officials in Washington focused on finalizing and sending a retirement bill to the President by the end of 2022, small businesses can hold out hope for increased assistance with the responsibilities of providing employer sponsored plans. As Plan Sponsor reports:


In addition to the RISE & SHINE Act, the HELP Committee also advanced the Increasing Small Business Retirement Choices Act. As passed by the HELP Committee, the legislation would make it easier for small businesses to offer more comprehensive retirement benefits to their workers by reducing administrative expenses. According to the bills supporters, currently, employers who offer 401(k) retirement plans and want to consider a plan design change, such as the implementation of auto-enrollment or auto-escalation, must pay out-of-pocket administrative costs upfront, even if such changes might help employees save more money. The bill would change existing law to allow small business employers to use retirement plan funds to pay expenses associated with retirement plan design changes, potentially lowering the cost of providing better plans to workers.


Common Interest

Support for employer sponsored retirement plans comes at a key time: many small businesses are in fact striving to increase benefit packages offered workers. For example, 401k Specialist reports:


Nearly all small business owners surveyed (93%) said they have re-evaluated their strategy and plan to make changes to their business due to COVID-19. More than a quarter (28%) of small business owners reported beefing up their benefits to attract and retain talent as a result of the pandemic: 27% are adding a retirement matching contribution, financial wellness program and/or retirement account. In addition, 30% are adding life insurance and more than 25% are adding benefits like accident, critical illness, hospital indemnity, vision and/or dental insurance.


Experts observe that small business owners are looking for “innovative, simple solutions that meet their employeesneeds and make it easier for owners to focus on running their day-to-day business.”  Retirement plan sponsors, whether new to the role or charging forward with enhancements, are advised to also remember the continuous fiduciary responsibility of ensuring all participants are benefitting from the plan. As such, it is critical to revisit risk management plans periodically—ensuring all required and critical coverage is in place and current. Colonial Surety is here to help, with efficient, affordable, packages.  Plan sponsors anywhere in the country can obtain a three point coverage solution—in minutes:


  1. The ERISA bond required to protect the assets of the retirement plan from theft.
  2. Fiduciary Liability coverage to protect you and your assets from personal liability.
  3. Cyber Liability coverage to safeguard your company and plan from covered losses and expenses in the event of a cyber breach.


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Good To Know—and Do!

Class action lawsuits on behalf of retirement plan participants continue to put intense scrutiny on how participants benefit from the decisions made by plan sponsors. For example, understanding how the investment options offered participants are selected, benchmarked, and, if warranted, removed from the plan is key responsibility of plan sponsors. Under the high standards of ERISA law, even failure to act can result in allegations of a fiduciary breach. Across the country, plan sponsors from businesses of every size mitigate their risks with affordable fiduciary liability insurance from Colonial Surety. Our annual premium is less than what you would pay for just one hour with an expert ERISA lawyer if disaster strikes—and we even include cyber liability insurance.

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Colonial Surety Company is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed and in business all across the country. Serving customers since 1930, we are the trusted source for the pension industry to secure legally required ERISA bonds, fiduciary liability insurance and cyber-liability insurance. With a Trustscore of 4.8, we help safeguard plan sponsors, pension professionals and financial advisors — and keep their businesses compliant — with efficient and friendly service every time.