The Spark Institute
SHAPING AMERICA'S RETIREMENT


SPARK INSTITUTE COMMITTEES

SPARK committees provide discussion forums, educational and networking opportunities and the chance to lend your voice to guide our retirement agenda. Committee involvement helps professionals to keep up with industry issues and engage with peers.

Our issue-specific committees provide members with opportunities to discuss emerging industry issues, network with peers and learn from other industry experts. Groups generally meet monthly or quarterly and are included in SPARK Institute membership dues, unless otherwise noted.

Consider becoming involved. For more information and to join, contact Marlene Jung at marlene@sparkinstitute.org

Government Relations Committee (GRC)

Purpose: One of SPARK's most active committees, it allows members to share their views on legislative and regulatory issues and help shape The SPARK Institute's Washington agenda. The GRC also provides vital education assistance to members with regular updates on legislative and regulatory topics.

Time commitment:

  • Monthly committee meetings (by phone): one hour 
  • Two in person meetings a year, following each SPARK conference

Conference Call and Meeting Schedule:

  • Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 11am
  • Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 11am
  • Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 11am
  • Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 11am
  • Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 11am
  • June – In-Person at National Conference, Falls Church, VA, June 5, 12-4pm
  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 11am
  • Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 11am
  • Tuesday, September 10, 2019 at 11am
  • Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 11am
  • November – In-Person at The Breakers, FL, November 5, 1-5pm
  • Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 11am

Qualifications: If your organization holds an Advisory Board Level membership with SPARK Institute, anyone from your company can participate.

Projects:

  1. SPARK Legislative Priorities – The GRC helps members firms keep connected on SPARK’s four key priorities;
    a) eDelivery
    b) Open MEPs
    c) Expansion of Auto Features and
    d) Safe Harbor for Lifetime Income

  2. Legislative & Regulatory Network – The GRC shares information on all pending and proposed legislative and regulatory initiatives. Their current focus is on:
    a) HELP Subcommittee Hearing on Retirement Legislation
    b) RETIRE Act
    c) Retirement Plan Modernization Act
    d) RESA
    e) Neal’s Auto 401(k) Legislation
    f) Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act
    g) SEC Fiduciary Rule
    h) Department of Labor Regulatory Agenda

  3. Missing Participants Update 

  4. Guidance on ESG and GAO Report 

  5. ERISA Advisory Council Topics 

  6. Department of the Treasury and IRS Regulatory Agenda 
    a) VCP/SCP Update
    b) Hardship Distributions
    c) Executive Compensation

  7. EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

  8. State-Run Plans

  9. Student Loan Proposals

  10. Health Savings Accounts Update

 


 

Public Relations Committee

Purpose: The SPARK Public Relations Committee helps promote the retirement plan market principals and legislative initiatives established by the SPARK Advisory Board. These principals are intended to highlight the value defined contribution plans offer to our society in providing a secure retirement for millions of American workers and their families. Ideally, these principals will form the basis of policymakers’ decisions when determining changes to laws and regulations effecting retirement savings. These principals will be disseminated to legislators, regulators, press and other associations for consideration in the development of more formal laws and regulations.

Our PR Committee also helps direct SPARK's primary research and share memebr developed research more broadly.

Time commitment:

  • Committee meetings (by phone): one hour 
  • Two in person meetings a year, following each SPARK conference

Conference Call and Meeting Schedule:

  • Friday, January 11, 2019 at 11am
  • Friday, February 8, 2019 at 11am
  • Friday, March 8, 2019 at 11am
  • Friday, April 12, 2019 at 11am
  • Friday, May 10, 2019 at 11am
  • June – In-Person at National Conference, Falls Church, VA, June 5, 12-3pm
  • Friday, July 12, 2019 at 11am
  • Friday, August 9, 2019 at 11am
  • Friday, September 13, 2019 at 11am
  • Friday, October 11, 2019 at 11am
  • November – In-Person at The Breakers, FL, November 5, 1-3pm
  • Tuesday, December 13, 2019 at 11am

Qualifications: If your organization holds a membership with SPARK Institute, anyone from your company can participate.

 


 

Privacy Committee

Our newly formed privacy committee will help address the rapidly changing environment around use of plan and participant data. This committee draws members from different disciplines that have a strong interest in privacy issues, such as legal, technical, product development, plan consultants, plan sponsors, auditors and advisors. A couple of initial projects this team will try to tackle;

Projects:

  • Creation of a broad tracking system on privacy related regulations and laws
  • Development of an industry code of conduct on privacy

Time commitment: 

  • Monthly committee meetings (by phone): one hour
  • Potential for two in person meetings a year, following each SPARK conference

Conference Call and Meeting Schedule:

  • Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 11am
  • Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 11am
  • June – In-Person at National Conference, Falls Church, VA, June 5, 12-3pm
  • Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 11am
  • November – In-Person at The Breakers, FL, November 5, 1-4pm
  • Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at 11am

Qualifications: If your organization holds a membership with SPARK Institute, anyone from your company can participate.

(The Committee will address participation of non-SPARK members once it gets established)

 


 

Data Security Oversight Board (DSOB)

The oversight board has been established to address growing concerns over cyber security. The role of the board is to establish best practices and help share meaningful ways to protect data and systems among members. This Board recognizes that successful cyber-attacks on any SPARK member creates reputational damage or the whole industry.

Time commitment:

  • Committee meetings (by phone) every three weeks: one hour 
  • Two in person meetings a year, following each SPARK conference
  • Working groups may meet more frequently to address specific issues

Conference Call and Meeting Schedule:

  • Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 2pm
  • June – In-Person at National Conference, Falls Church, VA, June 5, 2-4pm
  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, September 17, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 2pm
  • November – In-Person at The Breakers, FL, November 5, 2-4pm
  • Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 2pm
  • Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 2pm

Qualifications: Board participation is open to all industry members and plan sponsor consultants.

Projects: 

  1. Data Security Communication Standards - The DSOB continues to implement the new standard and will continually update it based on market needs.

  2. Retirement Industry Council - The DSOB kicked-off the RIC as a platform for Member Firms to share data security and cyber threats amongst one another on a confidential basis.

  3. Cyber Security Definitions - The DSOB is trying to develop agreed upon definitions for terms like, breach, incident and attack. Plan sponsors are increasingly building these terms into service contracts, but without agreed upon definitions contract negotiations are difficult and time consuming.

  4. Pen Test Standards – Increasingly consultants and plan sponsors are requesting copiers of data security penetration test results. A firm that gives out their pen test results are providing a list of known vulnerabilities to their system. DSOB members have uniformly rejected this approach and have instead taken the position that to do so seriously exposes a firm to cyber-attacks. To address the concerns of the plan sponsors the DSOB has started to develop a new industry best practice for reporting pen test results.

5. Legal/Advocacy Team for Cyber Security - The DSOB has raised concerns about new regulations like the one enacted in the EU around privacy and believe that more will be added here in the U.S. The DSOB wants to address these new regulations and to be involved in the development of any new policies around cyber security. So the DSOB is exploring interest on the part of record keeper members to form an industry advocacy group similar to what we do for retirement laws and regulations.

 


 

Senior Operating Council (SOC)

This committee supports the needs of Senior Operations members and helps to identify trends associated with industry efficiencies and new product offerings.

Time commitment:

  • Monthly committee meetings (by phone): one hour 
  • Two in person meetings a year, following each SPARK conference

Conference Call and Meeting Schedule:

  • Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 11am
  • Friday, February 22, 2019 at 11am
  • Friday, March 22, 2019 at 11am
  • Monday, April 22, 2019 at 11am
  • Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 11am
  • June – In-Person at National Conference, Falls Church, VA, June 5, 12-4pm
  • Monday, July 22, 2019 at 11am
  • Thursday, August 22, 2019 at 11am
  • Monday, September 23, 2019 at 11am
  • Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 11am
  • November – In-Person at The Breakers, FL, November 5, 2-4pm
  • Monday, December 16, 2019 at 11am

Qualifications: If your organization holds an Advisory Board Level membership with SPARK Institute, anyone from your company can participate.

Projects:

  1. Missing Participants – Industry best practices on missing participants that will be sent to the DOL as they begin their own work on this issue.

  2. Fraud Prevention – The SOC has asked to coordinate with the DSOB’s new RIC to help share traditional fraud attempts on a confidential basis.

  3. Industry Automation – Members believe that there are several areas where automation would be beneficial for all firms and not represent tactical competitive advantages. The SOC is exploring what functions might fit into this criterion.

  4. Block Chain – The SOC believes that block chain technology might be useful to the retirement industry and is exploring how it might be used.