financial capability monthWhen it comes to April signposts, you can include Easter, Passover, the start of regular-season baseball and, headache inducing or not, that pesky income tax deadline. But we have to plead ignorance and confess that we hadn’t the slightest idea whatsoever that this was National Financial Capability Month (never ever having received a Hallmark card commemorating the occasion). We learned that tidbit from Phyllis C. Borzi, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor. So how financially capable are you in planning for retirement? Always, in any month, for employer as well as employee, a good question to take up with your financial advisor.

In the meantime, because of course we can never have too many surveys, a new AARP study of plan sponsor attitudes noted by Secretary Borzi.

 “In September 2013, AARP released a survey about the attitudes of 401(k) and 403(b) plan participants on fiduciary duty and investment advice that showed 93 percent of plan participants favored requiring the financial institutions that provide these plans to give investment advice that is in the best interest of participants.

“Now they have released a second survey of the attitudes of the plan sponsors on fiduciary duty and investment advice — and the findings are very similar. Nearly nine in ten plan sponsors (89 percent) said they would favor requiring financial institutions to give advice to plans or plan sponsors that is in the best interest of plan participants.

“I don’t find this surprising. Many employers work hard to provide good retirement plans for their workers and do their best to ensure the plan provider is giving good value and services to the plan participants. However, as the AARP survey notes, ‘for many situations in which advice is offered by plan providers, current laws do not require [them] to act in the best interest of plan participants’.”