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Is robo-advisor just a novelty, or can it provide real value?

Perhaps the best analogy for a robo-advisor is the self-driving car: it’s cool and impressive — sometimes even useful — but in many situations the technology can be incompatible or downright dangerous. Robo-advisors can provide useful advice to the small-balance investor who wants to get pointed in the right direction, but if you are beyond this point, proceed with caution. 

Something or nothing? The IRS’ narrow approval of a 401(k) student loan repayment benefit

For a few grand and the patience of Job, you can receive a tailored response to your burning 401(k) plan questions autographed by the Internal Revenue Service. This is the Private Letter Ruling (PLR) program. Plan sponsors may seek a PLR to validate a plan term, procedure or practice that is otherwise firmly planted in a gray area of the law. PLRs are plan-specific and do not set precedent. That means that only the plan sponsor to whom the PLR is addressed may rely on that particular ruling. 

The retirement savings Illuminati (doesn’t exist)

What’s the plan fiduciary’s obligation to provide meaningful investment choices? Obviously, 401(k) or 403(b) plan sponsors cannot guarantee retirement security or successful investment performance. Yet, as we’ve discussed before, plan fiduciaries have an obligation to select and regularly monitor the performance and cost of the investment choices the plan provides to its participant investors, and a popular option is a target date fund (TDF), which provides an easy way for an employee to plan for retirement around a particular date.