401k Service Providers To Share Services Info Under New Law
New rules about information that service providers have to share about 401k plans could make employees think they are getting charged new fees but a certified financial planner says the fees were being charged all along. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
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New rules are about to shed new light on your 401k plan.
"Service providers of 401k plans are required to disclose the services they are providing, a description of those services and the related fees associated with those services," says Michael Zovistoski, the managing director of UHY NY.
It's the related fees that might come as a bit of a shock. A 2011 study by the AARP found 71 percent of people didn't think they paid any fees for their 401k plan. Roughly three out of five admitted they had no idea how much they are paying. Which is why Zovistoski, a certified financial planner, warns the new disclosure could cause some unwarranted alarm.
"The fees effectively have always been there so we want people not to panic when they see the fees," he says. "These are not new fees."
Chances are you won't actually see them until the fall. Starting in July, plan providers need to disclose a list of potential fees to employers who, in turn, need to pass that information on to their workers. It won't be until your third quarter statement arrives that you'll see the actual dollars and cents you are personally paying.
Experts say the fees you pay can vary but on the whole, you're probably looking at somewhere between one half of 1 percent to 3 percent. And keep in mind, even a fraction of a percentage can translate into tens of thousands of dollars by the time you retire.
So what can you do with the new information? Zovistoski says not much, since it's really your employer's responsibility to choose the plan.
"If you find that you are paying 4 percent, I would recommend that you go to your employer, talk to your employer, identify the services and options that are available to you under the plan and check and see whether or not you believe they are reasonable," he says.
You can also check websites that offer plan comparisons and check in with a financial planner but don't go so far as to check out of your plan. Fees aside, Zovistoski says 401k plans are an important tool. Contributions are pre-tax, they're likely automatic and most important of all, they may be matched.
"The company may or may not match your contributions," he says. "We always recommend that people take advantage of those matches."