All posts by Matthew Schiff, Schiff Benefits Group

Study Group Announcement – New Orleans – Nov 5-7th, 2023

Are you an “Independent” Corporate and/or Bank Owned Life Insurance Consultant? Do you remember the Ramsey Study Group in the late 2000’s?

Well, if you want to be part of a group of “like minded” producers who wish to learn and share knowledge with some of the brightest and best in the business, then plan on being in New Orleans, November 5th to 7th, for a fast paced knowledge summit specific to the advanced planning market of corporations and banks. Meeting will be held at the Hotel Monteleone where the latest changes to products, services, and admin platforms will be discussed. Cost savings ideas on existing plans, as well the latest designs and tax law updates will be shared.

Speakers: Mel Todd (COLI Consulting Group), Peter Ricchutti (Professor Tulane Business School), Bud Schiff (Alvarez and Marsal), Dylan Major (Pangburn Group) and MANY more.

Registration Link

What to know before buying Life Insurance

Recently the Today Show did a piece on purchasing life insurance and having a will. In this video they explain the Why, How, Costs, Types of Coverage, and who you can buy Life Insurance from.

Writing a will and buying life insurance: What you need to know (

Did you know that only 31% of people feel like they understand life insurance? Why not get educated and click on our link to the Today Show’s clip to learn more. Then, come back and we can help.

Ready for the Great Talent Resignation?

Actionable Ideas to Recruit, Retain
and Reward Key Talent

In a time when more executives are walking away from their jobs, what can you do to keep them leaving during the Great Talent Recognition? Well, in this article by Andreas Stuermann, a fellow Lion Street Owner, he shares his ideas and insight into what might interest you and your staff that isn’t for everyone, discretionary, and may be fully cost recvoered.

Estate Planning iDEAS for 2021 and Beyond

In 2021 the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee have drafted legislation that will dramatically change the taxes on Generational Tax Planning. Words like GRATs, CRATs, FLPs, and ILITs are effected as these “financial instruments” that are usually Grantor Trusts, or set up by a donor (grantor), are set up for long term planning. Well, today that long term planning has to change based upon these new tax rules.

Take a look at what Michael Fontanini of Lion Street highlights as potential problems for families that have these very useful instruments in place.

Sample Phantom Stock Plan

In today’s post COVID world, are you finding it hard to keep your best people happy, while making sure that you don’t overpay the rank and file employees? Well maybe a Phantom Stock Plan, informally funded using key man life insurance, might be an answer.

Check out this sample program from one of our carriers, Guardian. It outlines these benefits in easy, simple to understand discussion pages, and then shows you the cash flow from the business, the benefits provided to the participant and his family in case of pre-retirement death, and the flexibility available to the company in funding this benefit, that, depending on the age and tenure of your employee, can provide a significant supplemental income at retirement that prevents them from leaving for a few extra thousand in compensation

Click on the following link for a copy of a Phantom Stock Sample.  Then, if you’d like to a have a custom design done for you or your company, give us a call at 610.292.9330 or send us an email at [email protected].

Covid, 401K’s and Cash Flow

Reducing or Suspending 401(k) Safe Harbor Contributions Mid-Year under Notice 2020-52 and some options you might explore on a NQDC basis for potential refunds from the plan.

July 30, 2020

A client recently called and asked the following questions:  “Under what circumstances, if any, can the business that has a standard 401(k) safe harbor plan, reduce or eliminate the company’s mandatory safe harbor contribution during the plan year? Is there any relief granted because of the impact of Covid-19?”   

The following outlines the circumstances under which sponsors of 401(k) [and 403(b)] safe harbor plans may reduce or eliminate employer safe harbor contributions mid-year under normal circumstances, and under the special circumstances outlined in IRS Notice 2020-52 granted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under normal circumstances, and according to final Treasury Regulations, a sponsor of a 401(k) safe harbor plan may amend the plan during the current year to reduce or suspend the company’s safe harbor contribution—either the matching or nonelective contribution—under the following limited circumstances.

A removal or reduction of a safe harbor contribution mid-year is permitted if the employer either

  1. Is operating under an economic loss for the year (See Internal Revenue Code Section (IRC 412(c)(2)(A);[1]


  1. Included a statement in the safe harbor notice given to participants before the start of the plan year that the employer
  • May reduce or suspend contributions mid-year;
  • Will give participants a supplemental notice (described below) regarding the reduction or suspension; and
  • Will not reduce or suspend employer contributions until at least 30 days after receipt of the supplemental notice.

COVID-19 Relief Any Plan Amended Between March 13, 2020, and August 31, 2020

Any sponsor of a safe harbor plan may amend its plan between March 13, 2020, and August 31, 2020, to reduce or suspend safe harbor contributions (either match or nonelective) without condition. However, special rules related to the supplemental notice apply as explained next.

Supplemental Notice

Typically, if a reduction or suspension of safe harbor contributions will occur, a 30-day advance notice rule applies. This supplemental notice must explain 1) the consequences of the suspension or reduction of contributions; 2) how participants may change their deferral elections as a result; and 3) when the amendment takes effect.

COVID-19 Relief for Supplement Notice for Nonelective Contributions

Sponsors who reduce or suspend 401(k) safe harbor nonelective contributions will satisfy the 30-day supplemental notice requirement, provided the sponsor

  • Gives the notice to employees no later than August 31, 2020, and
  • Adopts the required plan amendment no later than the effective date of the reduction or suspension of safe harbor nonelective contributions.

There is no relief on the timing of the supplemental notice under Notice 2020-52 for sponsors who reduce or suspend safe harbor matching contributions. Sponsors must give 30 days notice via a supplemental notice to participants before the reductions can take place.

Other Procedural Requirements

Typically, an employer that suspends or reduces safe harbor contributions must also

  1. Give participants a reasonable opportunity after they receive the supplemental notice and before the reduction or suspension of employer contributions to change their contribution elections;
  2. Amend the plan to apply the actual deferral percentage (ADP) and/or actual contribution percentage (ACP) Tests for the entire plan year; and
  3. Allocate to the plan any contributions that were promised before the amendment took effect.

Additional Notice 2020-52 Relief: Mid-Year Safe Harbor Contribution Reductions for Highly Compensated Employees

Pursuant to Notice 2020-52, a plan sponsor may choose to reduce or suspend 401(k) safe harbor contributions for highly compensated employees (HCEs) alone. In such cases, the plan sponsor must provide an

  • Updated safe harbor notice and
  • Opportunity for participants to update their elections, determined as of the date of issuance of the updated safe harbor notice.


In the past, the ability of sponsors to amend their 401(k) [or 403(b)] safe harbor plans to reduce or suspend employer matching or nonelective safe harbor contributions mid-year was limited. The IRS expanded those opportunities under IRS Notice 2020-52 in order to provide relief in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As part of this change however, you might wish to consider a 409A (discretionary) deferred compensation plan for participants who might be subject to any “refunds” from the plan not meeting the “Top Hat” percentages at the end of the year. If the participants are given the ability to amend their qualified plan contributions as part of the employer reduction, they can redirect those funds that the participants wanted for retirement back into their account and avoid current taxation.

Income for Life

When you are closing in on retirement, the most important thing is that you have income for life. How do you do that? Well, listen to retirement expert Tom Hegna discuss the math and science behind how you can guarantee that you never run out of money regardless of market returns.

In this video, Tom Hegna discusses what an Income Annuity is. How it acts likes Social Security or a Defined Benefit Pension. And why you must have this in your portfolio as part of your “assets’ in retirement, regardless of how much you have.

At Schiff Benefits Group, we help business owners and their key employees create streams of income in retirement that can’t be found by just using your IRA to draw income. At the same time, we protect against a downturn in the market, a long term care event, and a death of your spouse in retirement. Send us an email or call us to learn more.

The “perfect” plan

Ever wanted the “perfect” plan where the company gets a current deduction when the money is paid into the plan, the cash grows tax deferred, and then the participant get the money “tax free”? Well look no further. There is a plan like that available. You just have to be willing to discriminate.

It’s called a Restricted Executive Bonus plan and combines to different benefits in one. It has to be done carefully to meet IRS guidelines, but is 100% legal. Nice thing is, it’s not carrier or product specific, and has the flexibility as to what type of asset you want in the plan.

To learn more, give us a call or check out our Executive Bonus material. We’d be happy to design a sample for you so that you keep your best people.

Buy/Sell Insurance – How to do it for the least out of pocket

A short video about buy/sell insurance

What would happen if your business partner died suddenly? You’d be in business with his/her widow. Do you really want to do that?

No. Instead, you want to buy the “cheapest” insurance you can buy at the lowest cost. But many times, you need insurance for 20 or 30 years. In addition, when you pay that premium, it’s gone.

What if you could have the same cash flow for a permanent policy as a term insurance policy, have the bank pay your premium, and then in the future, create a stream of income that potential buyout you or your partner in retirement? Wouldn’t that be the best of all words? Well you can. You just have to be able to qualify.