The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued final regulations that require 401(k) providers to disclose their costs to 401(k) plan fiduciaries, and for participants to receive simplified disclosures that show investment and administrative expenses. The Obama Administration is touting these rules as part of its Blueprint for an America That’s Built to Last initiative, and the rules are indeed a step in the right direction.
By Aug. 30 of this year, most 401(k) plan participants will be able to see disclosures that spell out the investment and administrative expense ratios for the funds that are offered in their 401(k) plans. This heightened focus on plan fees will continue the fee reduction trend, which will put more money in your 401(k) accounts.
The trend to reduce fees has been going on for several years at many large 401(k) plans — those with 1,000 or more participants. Finance and HR professionals have been using their buying clout and analytical resources to shop and negotiate for the best deals on your behalf. In fact, many of these plans have voluntarily been providing the information that’s now required by the new Labor Department regulations. Participants in 401(k) plans of smaller employers often haven’t enjoyed these benefits, since these employers don’t generally have the resources and clout of larger employers. The new fee disclosure rules, however, will put pressure on 401(k) plans of all sizes to continue to reduce fees.