Investment Perspectives Fourth Quarter 2016

The biggest event of the 4th quarter for us here in the U.S. and probably for those overseas as well, was the surprise election of Donald Trump as President. This is the second (or possibly the third) surprise election in 2016, the first being the Brexit vote that occurred back in June. As with the Brexit vote, the electoral victory of Donald Trump was greeted by a short-lived market swoon which was quickly retraced. Here in the US, the retracement was followed by a jump to new record highs in the markets, in what is now being called “the Trump [ read more ]

Economic Commentary

Barn on a Farm in a Prairie

Top 12 Biggest Plan Mistakes…and How to Avoid Them

No one likes to make mistakes — especially retirement plan mistakes that can result in costly fines or even litigation. In 2014, the Internal Revenue Service/Department of Labor collected nearly $600 million for plan restorations, penalties and fines. Here’s the DOL break down: 3,928 DOL investigations closed, with Nearly 65 percent resulting in monetary compensation for plans or other corrective actions; and 161 cases referred for litigation. Violations often result from plain oversight (i.e., errors or omissions on the employer’s part) resulting in an audit headache and financial pain. This is why employers must be proactive and vigilant in avoiding [ read more ]

Spread Some Lovin’

Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to spread some lovin’ to your employees by adding to, or improving upon, a matching contribution formula for your retirement savings plan. Just as with other forms of compensation, an employer match keeps you competitive within your industry, while also helping your employees save more for retirement. Retirement industry experts agree the average worker should save 15 percent of their current annual salary to support future retirement. An employer matching program helps meet this need by: Driving Participation – Employees are more likely to enroll in a retirement savings plan when it includes a [ read more ]

Chicago Architecture

Economic Commentary

Investment Perspectives Third Quarter 2016

Has Brexit (the UK’s secession from the European Union) doomed Europe and the UK to future recession? If Donald Trump wins the presidential election, are the markets going to plunge? When will the Federal Reserve raise rates, and when they do, are we headed for another recession? Speaking of recession, aren’t we due for the next one in the United States; it’s been almost nine years? This is just a small sample of the questions we’re all asking and thinking about. Our short answer – no one knows for sure, but let’s take a deeper look and see if we [ read more ]


Avoid Common Filing Mistakes that Trigger IRS & DOL Audits

Our experts discuss the employee benefit plan fiduciary’s role as it relates to plan administration, specifically working with your plan auditor and avoiding common plan audit findings. Avoid Common Filing Mistakes that Trigger IRS & DOL Audits – PDF Presentation Employee Benefit Plan Fiduciaries: Avoid Common Filing Mistakes that Trigger IRS & DOL Audits from Blue Prairie Group on Vimeo.

Picking the Right Audit Firm Can Minimize Chances of a Plan Audit

In a recent government study on the quality of audit work performed by independent, qualified public accountants with respect to financial statement audits of employee benefit plans, 39 percent of the audits reviewed contained major deficiencies that would lead to rejection of the filing of Form 5500. While it can be tempting to take the easy route and use your current CPA firm for the 401(k) plan audit, it is important to hire a firm with the background, training and ongoing professional development to conduct these audits. There are many resources available to you that can help you make an [ read more ]



Credit Scores

Blue Prairie Group’s Chief Investment Officer, Gary Silverman, CFA, talks credit scores, how they should be used, and how they relate to your overall financial situation.  

Chicago Architecture

What Puts the “Well” in Financial Wellness?

A recent public opinion report found that 86% of those 25 and older believe our country faces a retirement crisis and nearly 75% are concerned about their ability to achieve a successful retirement. Clearly more people need assistance when it comes to planning and saving for their financial future. The good news is that financial wellness programs can help. These programs have proven to improve the financial outlook of employees by helping them take charge of their short-term and long-term financial needs. And luckily, company-sponsored financial wellness programs are gaining in popularity. In fact, a new study found 89% of [ read more ]

Women Rocking Wall Street Podcast – Winning in Sales

Securing the sale of a 401K can take anywhere between one to two years, making the sales process extremely important. Carmela Elco, a Managing Director at Blue Prairie Group, recommends establishing an advocate and build trust with that individual. This is especially important in those competitive situations. By communicating with your advocate, you can ask certain questions including what the committee’s overall concerns are, or what materials others may find beneficial. Also, Carmela recommends understanding the culture of the organization and how they approach their decision making and working with their partners. One way to do this is by reaching [ read more ]


White Papers

Target Date Funds: Why Plan Sponsor Due Diligence Process Matters

With so many DC plans using target date funds and usually as their QDIA option, the process for selecting the “right” target date suite has become a major plan sponsor concern. Even the DOL has stepped in and issued guidance to sponsors regarding the proper process for selecting and monitoring these funds. But even with this guidance, sponsors often ask, “What constitutes a sound selection process?” “Does it matter?” and “Does the selection process impact investment performance/outcomes?” In response to these trends, Blue Prairie Group (BPG) has developed a comprehensive selection and monitoring due diligence process to assist plan sponsors [ read more ]

Economic Commentary First Quarter 2016

Investors experienced a turbulent roller-coaster ride to start 2016, ultimately resulting in a tale of two halves in the first quarter. Rampant volatility across US equity markets carried over from the end of 2015, sending markets down by as much as 10% initially. However, several of the themes that negatively dominated the month of January reversed course by March, resulting in the S&P 500 ending in positive territory as of March 31st. These themes included climbing oil prices, a rebounding energy sector, and a falling value of the U.S. dollar.

Economic Commentary


Why Target Date Fund Due Diligence Matters

As target date fund investing has continued to soar in popularity and usage within retirement plans, the need for a rigorous monitoring and selection process has never been more important for plan sponsors. Determining a “best fit” target date strategy for a retirement plan requires a multitude of different considerations, including Plan Sponsor input, participant demographic data, and a thorough analysis of the investment product. Blue Prairie Group’s process for evaluating and selecting a target date strategy seeks to satisfy these different inputs via our proprietary selection tool. By utilizing this selection process, Plan Sponsors can achieve stronger retirement outcomes [ read more ]