To retire as soon as possible, you must avoid three 401(k) pitfalls throughout your working years - high account fees, underperforming investments, and improper asset allocation. These pitfalls can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time you retire. The best small business 401(k) plans make these pitfalls easy to avoid – which can help you retire years sooner. Given the stakes, you should settle for no less.
401(k) providers can deliver either "bundled" or "unbundled" plan administration services. A bundled (or “full-service”) provider delivers all three of the major plan administration services - asset custody, participant recordkeeping, and Third-Party Administration (TPA) - while an unbundled provider allies with at least one other company to deliver all three services. If you’re a business owner, understanding the differences between the two service models can help you choose the best 401(k) provider for you and your employees.
Subscribe to the The Frugal Financial Small Business 401(k) Blog and receive this free checklist for help in determing the best 401(k) plan design options and fit for your company.
When a business owner needs help picking investments for their 401(k) plan, my advice to them is always the same – hire a fiduciary-grade 401(k) financial advisor. The reason – only advisors bound by a fiduciary standard of care have a legal obligation to give impartial investment advice to their clients. In contrast, it’s perfectly legal for non-fiduciary advisors – who are bound by a lesser “suitability” standard – to give conflicted advice by steering their clients towards high-commission investments when lower-cost alternatives exist. In general, fiduciary-grade 401(k) advisors include investment advisers, but not brokers and insurance agents.
Due to the power of compound interest, 401(k) participants can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to their savings – or retire years sooner - by keeping their account fees as low as possible throughout their working years. And yet, in my experience, few participants appreciate this indisputable truth. Employee Fiduciary would like to help change that. This month, we launched an online calculator to show users how much they can add to their future savings by lowering their 401(k) fees today. Our bet - most users will be shocked by the amount they find.
This month, the Department of Labor (DOL), IRS and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp (PBGC) proposed changes to the Form 5500 – a report most 401(k) plans must file annually to meet ERISA requirements. Two changes would require large Form 5500 filers to report more 401(k) fee information. I think more fee reporting is necessary.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is federal agency that, according to its website, “provides Congress and federal agencies with objective, non-partisan, fact-based information to help the government save money and work more efficiently.” In an August report, the GAO assessed the effectiveness of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) 401(k) fee disclosure rules. They found that nearly 40% of 401(k) plan participants do not understand the fee information mandated by the DOL. This much confusion is a big problem when you consider the cumulative effect of 401(k) fees over time. To manage these losses, participants need a clear understanding of their 401(k) fees.