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Do-it-yourself investing? Read this first

There’s a battle brewing for your retirement savings, and it’s shaping up to be a doozy. Billions of dollars each year roll out of company-run 401(k) plans and into personal IRAs, increasingly directed by retirees themselves.

Who wants a piece of that money? Well, your old 401(k) plan would like to keep it, of course.

That’s what led to a recent federal study, put out by the Government Accountability Office, warning the public that the plans often attempt to steer workers directly into IRAs they run, thus maintaining their hold on fees charged.

The problem isn’t so much that their own IRAs are bad, but that workers don’t realize that they have choices, the GAO explained: Keep it in the 401(k), put it into a new employer’s plan, roll over into an IRA run by the same firm or a competitor, or (by far the worst choice) cash out.

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