A 401(k) plan can be an important part of planning for retirement, but it is important to be aware of the fees that your plan charges, in order to be sure that you are getting the best value from your investments.
One year ago, the Labor Department began requiring employers that sponsor a 401(k) savings plan to provide additional disclosures about the fees that are charged for administering various investment plans. Industry experts predicted that this information would lead employees to make changes to lower-cost investments, but so far few have followed through with making such changes.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute surveyed contribution plan participants recently and found that 53 percent had noticed the new disclosures on their statements, and most of them had taken no action. Just 14 percent of the people who were aware of the fee information made changes to their portfolios, including dropping investments that carry high fees.
Part of the problem is the lack of comparison information. Even with the disclosures, it can be difficult to know whether one’s 401(k) plan has high fees compared to other plans. A service called Brightscope provides such a comparison, and CNN Money offers an online tool that shows the impact of fees on the savings plans offered by large employers. These are good places to start in learning the impact of fees on your retirement plan.