The Frugal Fiduciary Small Business 401(k) Blog
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Employers have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the fees paid by their 401(k) plan are “reasonable” – so excessive fees do not reduce the investment returns of plan participants needlessly. To do that job, employers should ”benchmark” their 401(k) fees periodically by comparing them to industry averages and/or the fees charged by competing 401(k) providers. Sounds straightforward, but this information is hard to find and often harder to compare on an apples-to apples basis.
To plan for retirement, 401(k) participants should set a savings goal and develop a strategy for reaching that goal. To reach their goal at the lowest out-of-pocket cost, I recommend participants follow a simple 4-step strategy – start early, contribute regularly, invest appropriately, and lower fees. However, to reach their goal as soon as possible, participants will need some help from their 401(k) plan. Here are the three 401(k) plan features that can help any saver – including you – retire years sooner.
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401(k) plans must operate according to the terms of a written plan document to meet IRS qualification requirements. Most plans use an IRS “preapproved” document for this purpose. These documents must be fully rewritten (or “restated”) every six years to reflect recent law changes. The last 6-year restatement cycle was called “PPA” after the Pension Protection Act of 2006. A new cycle - called "Cycle 3" or "Post-PPA" - opened last year. From August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2022, all pre-approved 401(k) plans must be restated onto a post-PPA document.
401(k) providers can charge “direct” and/or “indirect” fees for delivering plan administration services such as asset custody, participant recordkeeping, Third-Party Administration (TPA), and professional investment advice. The difference between the fees is how they are paid. Direct fees can be paid by the plan sponsor or deducted from participant accounts, while indirect fees increase the cost of plan investments – reducing their returns. If you’re a business owner, I strongly recommend you avoid indirect fees for two reasons – 1) they lack the transparency of direct fees – which makes excessive 401(k) fees harder to avoid and 2) they could limit your access to top 401(k) investments - which often pay no indirect fees.
If you have questions about Transamerica 401(k) fees – how they work, how much they cost on average, or how you can find & calculate them for your plan – you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll show you how to calculate the full cost of a Transamerica 401(k) plan using their DOL-mandated fee disclosure.
On December 20, 2019, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act was signed into law. The legislation made many significant retirement plan changes, including enhanced tax credits for small businesses that start a new 401(k) plan and/or add an automatic enrollment feature to any 401(k) plan. For most small businesses, these changes took effect January 1, 2020.