The Saxon Advisor - March 2020

Compliance Check

what you need to know


Section 6055/6056 Reporting (Electronic Filing Deadline). Applicable large employers (ALEs) that sponsor self-insured health plans are required by Internal Revenue Code Sections 6055 and 6056 to report information about the coverage to the IRS yearly. IRS Forms 1094-C and 1095-C are used to report coverage information. March 31, 2020, is the deadline to submit these forms if employers are filing electronically.

COBRA General Notice. Employers who provide group health plans must provide a written General Notice of COBRA rights to all covered employees and spouses (if applicable). This notice must be provided 90 days after health plan coverage begins.

Summary Plan Description (SPD). Employers who offer group health plans that are subject to ERISA must provide Summary Plan Descriptions (SPD) to employees who newly enrolled at the beginning of the plan year by March 31, 2020.

Form 1099-R (Electronic Filing Deadline). Employers must file Form 1099-R with the IRS by March 31, 2020, if they are filed electronically.

Form 5330 Excise Tax Return. The Form 5330 excise tax return and payment for excess 2018 ADP/ACP contributions are due March 31, 2020.

Excess Contribution Refunds (over IRS limit). April 15, 2020 is the deadline to return excess retirement plan contributions for elective deferrals exceeding the 402(g) limits.

In this Issue

  • Upcoming Compliance Deadlines
  • Paving the Road to a Successful Portfolio Featuring Brian Bushman
  • Upcoming Saxon U Webinar: Employee Navigator Workshop with Jake Meyer
  • Fresh Brew Featuring Jake Meyer
  • #CommunityStrong: American Heart Association Heart Mini Fundraising & School Donation Drive

Employee Navigator Workshop

Join us for this interactive and educational Saxon U webinar with Jake Meyer, Saxon Financial Services, as we walk you through certain aspects of Navigator and teach you how to use the most common features.

Paving the Road to a Successful Portfolio

Bringing the knowledge of our in-house advisors right to you...


Determining a proper asset allocation is an important first step in creating your portfolio and planning how it will grow in the future. Asset allocation is the process of diversifying your investments into different asset classes based on the investor’s time horizon, their goals and how much risk they can tolerate.

“People always ask me what they can invest in that will make them a lot of money without the chance of losing any,” said Brian Bushman, Saxon Financial Advisor.

Advice from Brian

Fresh Brew Featuring Jake Meyer

“Educate your employees about their benefits. The more they understand them, the more they will realize how big of a benefit they are.”


This month’s Fresh Brew features Jake Meyer, an Account Executive at Saxon.

Scott’s favorite brew is Rhinegeist Truth, a local Indian Pale Ale from the Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Jake doesn’t have a particular snack that he eats when sipping on his favorite brew. He instead likes to enjoy the hops in his favorite IPA.

Learn More About Jake

This Month's #CommunityStrong:
American Heart Association Heart Mini Fundraising

This March, the Saxon team and their families teamed up to raise money for the American Heart Association Heart Mini!

Do you have a strategic approach to the totality of your financial picture?

Saxon creates innovative strategies that will help you figure out how to get there, plan for the risks along the way, navigate complex tax code and understand the steps you need to take to protect and secure your future.

Monthly compliance alerts, educational articles and events
- courtesy of Saxon Financial Advisors.


The Saxon Advisor - February 2020

Compliance Check

what you need to know


Section 6055/6056 Reporting. Employers must file Forms 1094-B and 1095-B, and Forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS by February 28, 2020 if they are filed on paper.

Form 1099-R Paper Filing. Employers must file Form 1099-R with the IRS by February 28, 2020 if they are filed on paper.

CMS Medicare Part D Disclosure. Employers that provide prescription drug coverage must disclose to the CMS whether the plan’s prescription drug coverage is creditable or non-creditable.

Summary of Material Modifications Distribution. Employers who offer a group health plan that is subject to ERISA must distribute a SMM for plan changes that were adopted at the beginning of the year that are material reductions in plan benefits or services.

Section 6055/6056 Individual Statements (2019 EXTENDED DEADLINE). Applicable large employers (ALEs) that sponsor self-insured health plans must disclose information about plan coverage to covered employees each year. This deadline was extended from January 31, 2020, to March 2, 2020, this year by the IRS.

ADP/ACP Refunds. Corrective refunds for a failed ADP/ACP test must be made by March 15, 2020, to avoid 10 percent excise tax penalties.

Section 6055/6056 Reporting (Electronic Filing Deadline). Applicable large employers (ALEs) that sponsor self-insured health plans are required by Internal Revenue Code Sections 6055 and 6056 to report information about the coverage to the IRS yearly. IRS Forms 1094-C and 1095-C are used to report coverage information. March 31, 2020, is the deadline to submit these forms if employers are filing electronically.

COBRA General Notice. Employers who provide group health plans must provide a written General Notice of COBRA rights to all covered employees and spouses (if applicable). This notice must be provided 90 days after health plan coverage begins.

Summary Plan Description (SPD). Employers who offer group health plans that are subject to ERISA must provide Summary Plan Descriptions (SPD) to employees who newly enrolled at the beginning of the plan year.

Form 1099-R (Electronic Filing Deadline). Employers must file Form 1099-R with the IRS by March 31, 2020, if they are filed electronically.

Form 5330. The Form 5330 excise tax return and payment for excess 2018 ADP/ACP contributions are due March 31, 2020.

In this Issue

  • Upcoming Compliance Deadlines
  • How to Speak to Your Employees About Their Intimidating Benefits – Featuring Jamie Charlton
  • Fresh Brew Featuring Nat Gustafson
  • This month’s Saxon U: What Employers Should Know About the SECURE Act
  • March’s Saxon U: Saxon’s Humana GO365 Annual Wellness Clinic
  • #CommunityStrong: American Heart Association Heart Mini Fundraising

What Employers Should Know About the SECURE Act

Join us for this interactive and educational Saxon U seminar with Todd Yawit, Director of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans at Saxon Financial Services, as we discuss what the SECURE Act is and how it impacts your employer-sponsored retirement plan.

How to Speak to Your Employees About Their Intimidating Benefits

Bringing the knowledge of our in-house advisors right to you...


Employers spend thousands annually to secure and offer benefits to their employees. However, a small amount of time and money are devoted to ensuring employees understand and appreciate their benefits. Properly communicating – what you say, how you say it and to whom you say it to – can make a tremendous difference in how employees think, feel and react to their benefits, employer and fellow co-workers.

In this installment of CenterStage, Jamie Charlton, founding partner and CEO of Saxon Financial Services, discusses the importance of offering sound education of benefits to employees, as well as how to effectively communicate their benefits in a clear, concise manner.

Advice from Jamie

Fresh Brew Featuring Nat Gustafson

“Always be prepared.”


This month’s Fresh Brew features Nat Gustafson, an Account Manager at Saxon.

In his free time, Nat enjoys snowboarding. When thinking about his greatest adventure, he remembers traveling around Italy. He lives by the catchphrase of, “Roll up your sleeves.”

Nat’s favorite brew is Rhinegeist Truth. His favorite local spot to grab his favorite brew is Mount Lookout Tavern on Linwood Avenue.

Nat’s favorite snack to enjoy with his brew is Chicken wings.

Learn More About Nat

This Month's #CommunityStrong:
American Heart Association Heart Mini Fundraising

This January, February & March, the Saxon team and their families will be teaming up to raise money for the American Heart Association Heart Mini!

Saxon’s Humana GO365 Annual Wellness Clinic

Learn what Go365 is, how it works, how to create engaged employees and how to maximize the 15% wellness incentive credit from the program.

Monthly compliance alerts, educational articles and events
- courtesy of Saxon Financial Advisors.


The Saxon Advisor - January 2020

Compliance Check

what you need to know


Form W-2s are due January 31, 2020. January 31 is the deadline for employers to distribute Form W-2s to employees. Large employers – employers who have more than 250 W-2s – must include the aggregate cost of health coverage.

Form 1099-Rs are due January 31, 2020. Employers must distribute Form 1099-Rs to recipients of 2019 distributions.

Form 945 Distributions. Form 945s must be distributed to plan participants by January 31, 2020, for 2019 non payroll withholding of deposits if they were not made on time and in full to pay all taxes that are due.

Section 6055/6056 Reporting. Employers must file Forms 1094-B and 1095-B, and Forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS by February 28, 2020 if they are filed on paper.

Form 1099-R Paper Filing. Employers must file Form 1099-R with the IRS by February 28, 2020 if they are filed on paper.

CMS Medicare Part D Disclosure. Employers that provide prescription drug coverage must disclose to the CMS whether the plan’s prescription drug coverage is creditable or non-creditable.

Summary of Material Modifications Distribution. Employers who offer a group health plan that is subject to ERISA must distribute a SMM for plan changes that were adopted at the beginning of the year that are material reductions in plan benefits or services

In this Issue

  • Upcoming Compliance Deadlines
  • Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b): What’s the Difference?
  • Fresh Brew Featuring Scott Langhorne
  • This month’s Saxon U: What Employers Should Know About the SECURE Act
  • #CommunityStrong: American Heart Association Heart Mini Fundraising

What Employers Should Know About the SECURE Act

Join us for this interactive and educational Saxon U seminar with Todd Yawit, Director of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans at Saxon Financial Services, as we discuss what the SECURE Act is and how it impacts your employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b): What's the Difference?

Bringing the knowledge of our in-house advisors right to you...


If you haven’t begun saving for retirement yet, don’t be discouraged. Whether you begin through an employer sponsored plan like a 401(k) or 403(b) or you begin a Traditional or Roth IRA that will allow you to grow earnings from investments through tax deferral, it is never too late or too early to begin planning.

“A major trend we see is that if people don’t have an advisor to meet with, they tend to invest too conservatively, because they are afraid of making a mistake,” said Kevin Hagerty, a Financial Advisor at Saxon Financial.

Advice from Kevin

Fresh Brew Featuring Scott Langhorne

“Pay close attention to detail.”


This month’s Fresh Brew features Scott Langhorne, an Account Manager at Saxon.

Scott’s favorite brew is Bud Light. His favorite local spot to grab his favorite brew is wherever his friends and family are.

Scott’s favorite snack to enjoy with his brew is wings.

Learn More About Scott

This Month's #CommunityStrong:
American Heart Association Heart Mini Fundraising

This January, February & March, the Saxon team and their families will be teaming up to raise money for the American Heart Association Heart Mini! They will be hosting a Happy Hour at Fretboard Brewing Company Wednesday, January 29, from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. to raise money.

Are you prepared for retirement?

Saxon creates strategies that are built around you and your vision for the future. The key is to take the first step of reaching out to a professional and then let us guide you along the path to a confident future.

Monthly compliance alerts, educational articles and events
- courtesy of Saxon Financial Advisors.


The Mega Backdoor Roth IRA and Other Ways to Maximize a 401(k)

Did you know: Numerous 401(k) retirement plans allow after-tax contributions. This creates financial planning opportunities that are frequently overlooked. Read this blog post for more information on maximizing your 401(k) plan.


The most popular workplace-sponsored retirement plan is far and away the 401(k) — a plan that can be both simple and complex at the same time. For some of your clients, it functions as a tax-deductible way to save for retirement. Others might see its intricacies as a way to maximize lifetime wealth, boost investments and minimize taxes. One such niche area of 401(k) planning is after-tax contributions, an often misunderstood and underutilized area of planning.

Before we jump into after-tax contributions, we need to cover the limits and the multiple ways your clients can invest money into 401(k) plans.

Employee Salary Deferrals and Roth

The most traditional way you can contribute money to a 401(k) is by tax-deductible salary deferrals. In 2019, employees can defer up to $19,000 a year. If they’re age 50 or older, they can contribute an additional $6,000 into the plan. In 2020, these numbers for “catch-up contributions” rise to $19,500 and $6,500 respectively.

Someone age 50 or over can put up to $25,000 into a 401(k) in 2019 and $26,000 in 2020 through tax-deductible salary deferrals. Additionally, the salary deferral limits could instead be used as a Roth contribution, but with the same limits. The biggest difference is that Roth contributions are after-tax. And as long as certain requirements are met, the distributions, including investment gains, come out income tax-free, whereas tax-deferred money is taxable upon distribution.

Employer Contributions

Employers often make contributions to a 401(k), with many matching contributions. For instance, if an employee contributes 6% of their salary (up to an annual indexed limit on salary of $280,000 in 2019 and $285,000 in 2020), the company might match 50%, 75%, or 100% of the amount. For example, if an employee earns $100,000 a year and puts in $6,000 and their employer matches 100%, they will also put in $6,000, and the employee will end up with $12,000 in their 401(k). Employers can also make non-elective and profit-sharing contributions.

Annual 401(k) Contribution Cap

Regardless of how money goes into the plan, any individual account has an annual cap that includes combined employee and employer contributions. For 2019, this limit is $56,000 (or $62,000 if the $6,000 catch-up contribution is used for those age 50 and over). For 2020, this limit rises to $57,000 ($63,500 if the $6,500 catch-up contribution is used for those age 50 and over).

Inability to Max Out Accounts

If you look at the limits and how people can contribute, you might quickly realize how hard it is to max out a 401(k). If a client takes the maximum salary deferral of $19,000 and an employer matches 100% (which is rare), your client would only contribute $38,000 into the 401(k) out of the maximum of $56,000. Their employer would need to contribute more money in order to max out.

Where After-Tax Contributions Fit In

Not all plans allow employees to make after-tax contributions. If the 401(k) did allow this type of contribution, someone could add more money to the plan in the previous example that otherwise maxed out at $38,000.

After-tax contributions don’t count against the salary deferral limit of $19,000, but they do count toward the annual cap of $56,000. After-tax contributions are what they sound like — it’s money that’s included into the taxable income after taxes are paid, so the money receives all the other benefits of the 401(k) like tax-deferred investment gains and creditor protections.

With after-tax contributions, clients can put their $19,000 salary deferral into the 401(k), get the $19,000 employer match, and then fill in the $18,000 gap to max out the account at $56,000.

Mega-Roth Opportunity

If the plan allows for in-service distributions of after-tax contributions and tracks after-tax contributions and investment gains in separate accounts from salary deferral and Roth money, there’s an opportunity to do annual planning for Roth IRAs.

Clients can convert after-tax contributions from a 401(k) plan into a Roth IRA, without having to pay additional taxes. If a plan allows in-service distributions of after-tax contributions, the money can be rolled over to a Roth IRA each year. However, it’s important to note that any investment gains on the after-tax amount would still be distributed pro rata and considered taxable. Earnings on after-tax money only receive tax-deferred treatment in a 401(k); they aren’t tax free.

Clients can roll over tens of thousands of dollars a year from a 401(k) to a Roth IRA if the plan is properly set up. They can even set up a plan in such a way so the entire $56,000 limit is after-tax money that’s distributed to a Roth IRA each year with minimal tax implications. This strategy is referred to as the Mega Backdoor Roth strategy.

Complexities Upon Distribution of After-Tax Contributions

What happens to after-tax contributions in a 401(k) upon distribution? This is a complex area where you can help clients understand the role of two factors:

  1. After-tax contributions are distributed pro-rata (proportional) between tax-deferred gain and the after-tax amounts.
  2. Pre-tax money is usually considered for rollover into a new 401(k) or IRA first, leaving the after-tax attributed second. The IRS provided guidance on allocation of after-tax amounts to rollovers in Notice 2014-54.

Best Practices for Rollovers

Help your clients navigate the world of rollovers with after-tax contributions by following best practices. If a client does a full distribution from a 401(k) at retirement or separation of service, they can roll the entire pre-tax amount to a new 401(k) or IRA and separate out the after-tax contributions to roll over into a Roth IRA. The IRS Notice 2014-54 previously mentioned also provides guidance for this scenario.

You can help your clients understand after-tax contributions by envisioning after-tax money in a 401(k) as the best of three worlds. These contributions enter after taxes and give your client tax-deferred money on investment growth, allow them to save more money in their 401(k) while also giving them the opportunity to roll it over into a Roth IRA at a later date.

After-tax contributions build numerous planning options and tax diversification into retirement plans. Before your clients allocate money toward after-tax contributions, it’s important they understand what their plan allows and how it fits into their overall retirement and financial planning picture.

SOURCE: Hopkins, J. (17 December 2019) "The Mega Backdoor Roth IRA and Other Ways to Maximize a 401(k)" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2019/12/17/the-mega-backdoor-roth-ira-and-other-ways-to-maximize-a-401k/


Tech tools underused for workplace engagement: survey

Did you know: Only 45 percent of employers use technology to improve employee engagement, according to a survey of HR professionals. Read the following blog post to learn more about using technology to enhance workplace engagement.


Just 45% of employers are using technology to improve employee engagement, according to a new survey of thousands of HR professionals in organizations of varying sizes.

The research finding comes from the Next Concept Human Resource Association (NCHRA) and Waggl, a real-time engagement platform. HR tech industry professionals weighed in on the topic at the HR TechXpo 2019 and others as part of the latest “Voice of the Workplace” pulse survey.

Of those respondents, 92% said they would like to create a strong internal culture that affects results. In addition, 81% believed that investing in people-focused programs and skills such as onboarding, performance and employee engagement would help increase revenues and profit margins.

Lisa Hickey, VP of professional development at NCHRA, was “a bit surprised” that only 45% of her group’s members reported that their organizations are using technology to improve employee engagement in the face of business volatility and a tight labor market.

NCHRA and Waggl, both based in the San Francisco Bay Area, also distilled into a ranked list crowdsourced responses to a survey question about social media and gamification platforms as tools to increase employee engagement.

Several caveats were expressed. One HR leader, for example, cautioned that they need to be tied to the type of company and demographics, as well as the extent to which employees are willing to embrace change. Another respondent said it’s important that gamification not be “viewed as a nuisance and a distraction from accomplishing job tasks.”

The bottom line is that giving employees an opportunity to help shape their organization’s culture, experience, vision and execution enables them to “feel more connected to the workplace and empowered to drive change,” according to Alex Kinnebrew, chief marketing officer and head of growth strategy for Waggl.

Benefit brokers and advisers can play a critical role in helping their employer clients bridge the technology gap when it comes to improving employee engagement, Hickey believes. “From designing an offering that represents company goals to securing the best technology to administer the program, brokers are guiding you every step of the way and also helping utilize technology beyond benefits administration that delivers more services and solutions for the company,” she says.

Founded in 1960, NCHRA is the nation’s second-largest HR association — serving more than 30,000 professionals in 23 states and several countries and showcasing more than 100 annual educational events.

Waggl’s Employee Voice platform examines critical business topics that include culture, experience, vision and execution. The company’s management team includes executives from Glassdoor, SuccessFactors and Coupa. Customers include Paychex, eBay, City Electric Supply, UCHealth, American Public Media and Freddie Mac.

SOURCE: Shutan, B. (4 December 2019) "Tech tools underused for workplace engagement: survey" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/tech-tools-underused-for-workplace-engagement-survey


6 steps to enhance your recruiting strategy

According to recent data from PwC, more and more potential employees are turning down job offers because of bad recruitment experiences. Often, when job candidates have a poor experience while applying for a job, they share the details of their encounter with friends, family and social media. Read this blog post for six steps employers can use to enhance their recruitment strategy.


Employers may be contributing to their organization’s bad reputation without even knowing it during the recruiting process

A strong labor market is presenting employees with more options, allowing them to weigh potential employers against each other, and eliminating the need to accept the first offer they get. Unique and inventive recruiting strategies are vital in attracting the right talent to your organization, but more potential employees are turning down job offers because of bad recruiting experiences, according to data from PwC.

Employers can develop some bad habits when it comes to recruiting, like dragging out the process and even ghosting candidates. When potential employees have a poor experience applying for a job with a company, they are going to share the details of that encounter with friends, family and the world at large thanks to social media.

“Job seekers today expect the hiring process to be streamlined, efficient and customized to their personal preferences, with effortless technology and sincere human interactions,” says Bhushan Sethi, a workforce strategy leader at PwC.

However, very few organizations are providing this experience, according to the PwC survey of 10,000 job seekers. Not only can a bad recruiting experience drive candidates away, it can also create lasting damage to an organization’s reputation as an employer.

“Leaders have an opportunity to gain an edge in the battle for talent by delivering a superior recruiting experience to every candidate, even those who don’t receive an offer,” Sethi says.

But there are ways to make a candidate’s recruiting experience more positive, even if they don’t ultimately get an offer. Here are six steps organizations can take to deliver a “first-rate” recruiting experience to potential candidates.

Find a balance between tech and human interaction

The human interactions candidates experience during the recruitment process makes a stronger impression than any digital experience, the survey shows. “Candidates want positive, direct human interaction throughout the recruiting process, whether that’s in person, over the phone or via email,” Sethi says. “Two-thirds of candidates said personalized initial outreach makes them more likely to apply for a position.”

Technology does have an important role to play in the recruiting process. However, recruiting technology is typically designed with the enterprise, not the candidate, in mind, Sethi says. Employers should look to utilize technology that streamlines routine tasks or makes the hiring process easier for job applicants. About 44% of those surveyed by PwC say they’re open to using automation and technology options for routine touchpoints and to get information during the recruiting process. Another 65% said they would like if an organization had an application dashboard so they could track their progress.

Communicate often and keep the process quick

More than half of job seekers (56%) said they would discourage someone else from applying for a job with a company where they had a bad recruiting experience, according to PwC data. A majority of job seekers (92%) said they’ve experienced poor recruiting practices at some point in their career. Candidates pointed out the two most frustrating behaviors by recruiters: dragging out the process by more than a month and recruiters who withdraw communication with no explanation.

“These practices are rampant: 61% of candidates said they’ve simply stopped hearing from an organization during the hiring process,” Sethi says. “And 67% gave up pursuing a role because the recruiting process took too long.”

Ask for social media details

About 50% of job seekers said they’d be willing to share their social media data with potential employers if it helps to determine a better job and organizational fit. Checking out a potential employee’s social media allows HR to understand more about the candidate. But candidates are only willing to share their social media data if the right privacy measures are in place. Recruiters can gain candidate’s trust by being transparent. About 78% of those surveyed by PwC said they expect the recruiting process to be clear on how personal data is used. About 77% of candidates said they wouldn’t apply for a job if they felt their privacy and information wasn’t protected.

Highlight the rewards potential employees most desire

Upskilling, personal flexibility and inclusion are three key aspects of workplace culture that have become more desirable among candidates than salary, according to PWC. Additionally, candidates are willing to give up 11.7% of their salary for more flexibility and training.

Give candidates a way to experience the company’s culture first hand

Today’s candidates are looking for more than a job, the PwC survey notes. They want an employee experience that provides a sense of purpose and pride.

“Culture is so meaningful that 33% of C-suite-level candidates said they’d take a pay cut to work for a mission-driven company that aligns with their ideals,” Sethi says.

It can be challenging for recruiters to provide an accurate sense of a company’s culture. Recruiters can help candidates experience this firsthand by holding networking and other social events.

Always be mindful of your reputation

When candidates have a bad recruiting experience it does more damage than recruiters realize. “It can cause lasting reputational harm and even hurt your chances of hiring the workers who are hardest to find,” Sethi says.

Almost half of candidates (49%) working in high-demand sectors like tech, banking and energy say they would be more likely to turn down a job due to a bad recruiting experience. Of those surveyed by PwC 71% say working for a company with a good reputation as an employer is more important than working for a well-known customer brand.

“That’s good news for small brands jockeying for talent with big-name competitors,” Sethi says. “You can gain an edge by cultivating and promoting a strong, positive reputation. It’s also a call to action for bigger brands: you can’t rely on name alone to attract talent.”

SOURCE: Schiavo, A. (9 December 2019) "6 steps to enhance your recruiting strategy" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from 6 steps to enhance your recruiting strategy


How to maximize employee participation in HSA plans

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), 96 percent of HSA account holders do not invest any portion of their contributions. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) offer account holders the option to invest and investments are not subject to taxation. Read this blog post to learn more about maximizing employee participation in HSA plans.


High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) not only offer employees the opportunity to save on their premium contributions, they also provide access to what are commonly touted as triple-tax-advantaged health savings accounts (HSAs).

HSA users can put away money tax-free, and account distributions for eligible healthcare costs aren’t subject to federal income tax. Plus, these accounts offer users the option to invest and any investment returns aren’t subject to taxation. Not even the storied 401(k) promises this much bang for the proverbial buck. In fact, HSAs offer the best of pre-tax 401(k) and Roth contributions.

But, no matter how sweet a tax deal this is, for most of the over 25 million account holders, investing takes a back seat to current healthcare needs. According to EBRI, 96% of account holders don’t invest any portion of their balance, which leaves just 4% taking advantage of all three tax-advantaged components of the HSA. Instead, HSA users fall into two distinct categories: spenders and savers, with spenders representing over three-quarters of account holders.

In 2017, the average deductible for employee-only coverage was $2,447 and almost a quarter of employees covered under one of these plans had a deductible of $3,000 or more.

Let’s imagine it’s 2017, and our sample employee — let’s call her Emily — has a $2,500 deductible. Emily funded her HSA to the 2017 maximum of $3,400. If Emily had healthcare costs that totally eroded her deductible and she used her HSA dollars to fund them, at the end of the year Emily would have $900 left in her account ($3,400 maximum minus $2,500 to cover her deductible). That assumes no additional cost-sharing or eligible expenses.

However, Emily is in the minority. Only 13% of employees are fully funding their accounts, rendering an investment threshold potentially out of reach for most people, especially when they are using their HSA dollars for out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

With such a small percentage of HSA owners taking advantage of investment opportunities, finding effective ways to support the spending or saving habits of the majority of users seems to be tantamount. So is helping them address their concerns about deductible risk. As employers help people become smarter consumers, they may be able to build their accounts over time and ultimately pull the investment lever.

So, how can employers support these spenders and savers?

Encourage people to contribute, or to contribute moreEBRI found that only half of account holders put anything in their HSA in 2017, and just under 40% of accounts received no contributions — including employer dollars. Employer contributions can help overcome employees’ reluctance to enroll in an HDHP, but the way they are designed matters. Matching contributions act as a strong incentive for employees to save while also protecting the most vulnerable employees from having to shoulder the entire burden of out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

Another technique to help address employees’ anxiety around a high deductible is to pre-fund out-of-pocket costs by allowing employees to borrow from future contributions. If the employee incurs costs but doesn’t have enough HSA dollars to cover them, they can use future contributions as an advance against current out-of-pocket expenses. The employer provides the funds up front and the employee pays back those funds through payroll deductions. This acts as a safety net for new account holders or those without substantive balances.

Drive people toward the maximum contribution. With fewer than 20% of employees fully funding their HSA, there’s certainly room to move the needle. While additional contributions may not be possible for all employees, reinforcing the tax advantages and the portability of the HSA may help people divert more dollars to insulate themselves against healthcare costs.

Highlight ways to save on healthcare costs. When employees are funding their care before meeting a high deductible, help them spend those HSA dollars wisely. Promote telehealth if you offer it and remind employees about the most appropriate places to get care (for example, urgent care versus the emergency room). Reinforce the preventive aspects of your healthcare plan, including physicals, screenings and routine immunizations. If you have a wellness program that includes bloodwork and biometric testing, make sure you tie this into your healthcare consumerism messaging. There’s generally a lot of care employees can get at no cost, and it helps when you remind them.

Don’t lose contributors to an over-emphasis on investing. The tax advantages of investing in an HSA are undeniable, but most people are just not there yet. When we describe HSAs as a long-term retirement savings vehicle, we may inadvertently be messaging to non-participants that these accounts aren’t for them. Speak to the majority with messaging around funding near-term healthcare costs on a tax-advantaged basis and the flexibility to use HSA dollars for a wide variety of expenses beyond just doctor and pharmacy costs. Investing information should be included, but it shouldn’t be the primary focus.

HSAs are gaining in popularity, and the majority of account holders are using them to self-fund their healthcare, which is a good thing. A small but growing number are taking advantage of their plans’ investment options. Employees eventually may become investors as their accounts grow and they better understand the opportunity to grow their assets and save for the longer term. For now, however, the educational and engagement focus for HSA plan sponsors should primarily be around participation, maximizing contributions and spending HSA dollars wisely.

SOURCE: Cosgray, B. (6 December 2019) "How to maximize employee participation in HSA plans" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/how-to-maximize-employee-participation-in-hsa-plans


Paving the Road to a Successful Portfolio

Determining a proper asset allocation is an important first step in creating your portfolio and planning how it will grow in the future. Asset allocation is the process of diversifying your investments into different asset classes based on the investor’s time horizon, their goals and how much risk they can tolerate.

“People always ask me what they can invest in that will make them a lot of money without the chance of losing any,” said Brian Bushman, Saxon Financial Advisor.

“I tell them that this simply doesn’t exist. But I can, however, help them design an optimized portfolio based on their risk tolerance and what they are trying to accomplish.”

Whether you’re just beginning to save for retirement or you’re much further down the road with more substantial savings, asset allocation is the result of understanding your comfort with risk and how to best diversify your investments to accomplish your goals.

The key to asset allocation is diversification. This allows an investor to take advantage of investing in many different opportunities which can reduce their overall risk.

Assets can be allocated either strategically or tactically. A strategic plan sets a target allocation and consistently rebalances that allocation back to the original percentages while a tactical plan focuses on adjusting the portfolio based on current economic conditions and opportunities in order to produce a better risk adjusted return. Brian and the investment team at Saxon bring a hybrid approach to designing and managing their investor’s portfolios.

Many investors only consider the returns on their investments, but it is very important to assess the level of risk a portfolio is taking to achieve that return. Saxon’s approach is to optimize this risk vs. return ratio.

It is also important for investors to understand there are different types of risk. Most associate risk with investment risk which is the risk of losing money.

However, there are many other risk factors to consider. Inflationary risk, interest rate risk, credit risk, taxability risk, currency risk and legislative/political risk are other types of risks that need to be considered when developing a portfolio.

Below are the three main factors needed in designing a suitable portfolio for the client.

3 Factors in Designing a Suitable Portfolio

1. Time Horizon

The amount of time that you have to reach your goals should directly impact the level of risk you are willing to take. When you’re young you have much more time to recover from any losses that could be incurred from a drop in the market, but as retirement approaches you have less time to recover from market losses.

The closer you get to retirement, the more you should consider reducing your risk level. Once you retire and need income from your investments you may need to redesign your portfolio from an accumulation portfolio to an income portfolio.

2. Risk Tolerance

Typically, investments that have the potential to generate higher returns are riskier. This is where the idea of risk tolerance comes in. This refers to the amount of volatility an investor can tolerate.

If your risk tolerance is low, then you will likely earn a lower return. To compensate for a lower anticipated return, it is important to evaluate the amount you are investing and possibly adjust your timeline accordingly to reach your goals. Usually gauged by a questionnaire, risk tolerance is often used to categorize investors as aggressive, moderate or conservative.

3. Goals

Each person’s goals are different, whether you are working towards a long-term goal of retirement or a short-term goal, you should consider these goals in your asset allocation plan.

One person’s ideal asset mix could be completely wrong for someone else. Outside of setting financial goals and an ideal retirement goal, it is important to set a goal to adjust investments as you age.

“There is no crystal ball that provides insight on how to best allocate assets. It’s a process that begins with an initial risk assessment, diversifying your investments and continually monitoring the progress of your portfolio,” said Brian Bushman, Saxon Financial Advisor.

How Saxon Helps

A Saxon investment advisor can provide guidance through the process of creating a well-balanced portfolio.

For more, contact Brian Bushman today at (513) 333-3901 or bbushman@gosaxon.com.


4 Things to Know About Mental Health at Work

Did you know: 80 percent of workers will not seek help for mental health issues because of the associated shame and stigma. Read this blog post from SHRM for four things employees and employers should know about mental health in the workplace.


Kelly Greenwood graduated summa cum laude from Duke University with degrees in psychology and Spanish. She holds a master's degree in business from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, contributes to Forbes magazine and is editor-at-large for Mental Health at Work, a blog on Thrive Global.

She also is someone who has managed generalized anxiety disorder since she was a young girl. It twice led to debilitating depression. During a Smart Stage presentation at the recent Society for Human Resource Management Inclusion 2019 event in New Orleans, she discussed how someone can be a high-performing individual and still contend with mental health issues.

Greenwood had to take a leave of absence after experiencing a perfect storm at work—a new job in an understaffed, dysfunctional environment; an inflexible schedule that caused her to miss therapy sessions; and a change in her medication. When it became clear her performance had deteriorated, she was forced to disclose her condition to her manager.

She took a three-month leave, but that only fueled her anxiety. Still in her 30s, she worried about whether she would be able to return to work and feared her career was over. It wasn't. She went on to join the executive team of a nonprofit and in 2017 founded Mind Share Partners, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that offers corporate training and advising on mental health.

Greenwood shared the following four things she wishes she had known earlier in her life about mental health:

  1. Mental health is a spectrum. "Hardly anybody is 100 percent mentally healthy" all the time, she said. "We all go back and forth on this spectrum throughout the rest of our lives." The grief a person experiences over the loss of a loved one, for example, affects that person's mental health. "You can be successful and have a mental health condition," Greenwood said, noting that a study Mind Share Partner conducted with Harvard Business Review (HBR) found that mental health symptoms are equally prevalent across seniority levels within companies, all the way up to the C-suite.
  2. You cannot tell a person's mental condition by his or her behavior. "It's never your job," she told managers and other workplace leaders, "to diagnose or gather [information] or assume what's going on. Our goal at work is not to be clinicians, but to create a supportive environment."
  3. Mental health conditions and symptoms, including suicidal thoughts, are common. Greenwood said the Mind Share Partners/HBR study found that 60 percent of 1,500 people surveyed online in March and April said they had a mental health symptom: feeling anxious, sad or numb or experiencing a loss of interest or pleasure in most activities for at least two weeks. National Institutes of Health research suggests that up to 80 percent of people will manage a diagnosable mental health condition in their lifetime. "They may not know it," Greenwood said. "It may be a moment in time because of a job loss or grief over a death. That means mental health affects every conference call, every team meeting. It is the next frontier of diversity and inclusion."
  4. Workplace culture can reinforce the stigma around mental health issues. And so, 80 percent of workers will not seek help because of the associated shame and stigma. If they do, they cite a different reason, such as a headache or upset stomach, rather than admit they are taking time off because of stress. That is leading to what Greenwood calls a "huge retention issue," with 50 percent of Millennials and 75 percent of Generation Z saying they left a job—voluntarily and involuntarily—because of a mental health challenge. She advised leaders to have "courageous conversations" with those they work with. Even simply engaging in a discussion about having to deal with a child's tantrum can be powerful.

"There is so much research," she said, "about the power of vulnerability in leadership."

SOURCE: Gurchiek, K. (12 November 2019) "4 Things to Know About Mental Health at Work" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/4-things-to-know-about-mental-health-at-work.aspx