It won't just be another a sunny spot for kicking around issues about participant asset allocation or, sigh, company stock.
Pensions & Investments' Defined Contribution/401(k) Reform Conference, to be held in Laguna Niguel, Calif., Oct. 27-29, is expected to be an extended "no-holds-barred" conversation among plan sponsors, consultants and service providers, said Ron Eisen, conference co-chair.
It will give attendees a forum for wrestling with issues that have cropped up amid the down markets and corporate scandals, said Mr. Eisen, president of Portland, Ore.-based Investment Management Consultants Inc. He will co-chair the conference with Michael J. Clowes, editorial director of P&I.
The keynote speaker will be James M. Delaplane Jr., a partner with Washington law firm Davis & Harman LLP and special counsel to the American Benefits Council. "I expect to give up-to-the-minute breaking news on what Congress is doing with Enron-motivated pension reform," Mr. Delaplane said.
He also will attempt to handicap defined contribution plan regulatory and legislative activity he expects to come out of Washington.
Much of the program consists of panel discussions that moderators promise will be interactive and include audience participation.
"We'll be talking about what's right, but also what's wrong and what we need to do to fix it," Mr. Eisen said.
A panel on developing and evaluating education and communication programs will be moderated by Jodi DiCenzo, partner in newly formed consulting firm Benartzi & DiCenzo LLC, that, in part, offers to benchmark the success of defined contribution plans.
Another panel, moderated by R. Theodore Benna, president of the 401(k) Association, Jersey Shore, Pa., will consist of plan sponsor executives discussing some of the challenges facing defined contribution plans.
Julie Adamik, senior manager of global benefits with Callaway Golf Co., Carlsbad, Calif. will share her experiences on revamping the company's $75 million 401(k) plan, which included changing most investment options as well as the record keeper.
Also on Mr. Benna's panel will be William E. Gebhardt, vice president of human resources for Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., Pasadena, Calif. He is expected to lead a discussion on company stock and talk about why Jacobs Engineering does not have company stock as an option in its $1 billion plan.
Another conference highlight will be a discussion about controlling plan costs. With assets and performance falling with the stock market, costs have become critical, said Fred Barstein, who will be moderating the panel.
"We'll be talking about what plan sponsors can expect to pay, what's negotiable, and the internal dynamics of how providers price their plans," said Mr. Barstein, president and chief executive officer of 401kExchange.com, an online retirement plan search consultant in Lake Worth, Fla.