Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

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Wildebeest
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Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Wildebeest » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:26 pm

How to campaign for a better 401 K in the Wiki is a great resource.
I used it as a template as the first step to hopefully get low cost index funds added.

Step one in May 2017 (Copy and paste from the Wiki):

"Dear company plan administrator:

I am appreciative of the company’s providing a tax deferred plan to help employees prepare for retirement by long-term investing. However, after studying the investments available in the plan, I am concerned that there are few options for employees who wish to invest efficiently for the long-term.

Most, if not all, of the fund choices in the company tax deferred plan are high cost actively managed funds which will not do the job of retirement investing. Over long periods of time, even a difference of one percent in fees can add up, through the effect of compounding, to a reduction in the end value of the an employee’s account of almost 20%. After 30 years, that can mean losses exceeding $100,000.

Because many employees are counting on this plan to see them through a lengthy retirement, I believe the company has a fiduciary duty to provide adequate fund investments to attain that goal. That fiduciary duty could be easily met by the addition of just a few index funds to the company plan. Such funds are available from Vanguard and Fidelity. This is a strategy that even Warren Buffet recommends:

"Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges minimal fees. Those following this path are sure to beat the net results (after fees and expenses) delivered by the great majority of investment professionals." --Warren Buffett Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letter, 1996

Mr. Buffett’s recommendation is consistent with the great majority of academic research done on investment costs and index fund performance.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulators have recently turned their attention to 401(k) plans with high fees, and as a result there have been a number of lawsuits that have been filed over the issue of high fund expenses. Consequently, I believe that the company could insulate itself from legal problems by providing low cost, index fund options.

Sincerely,

W.



Step 2:
I had not heard back in 6 months so I send it again stating I had received an answer for 6 months and requesting an answer more urgently. The pension administrator cc the Wealth manager of Merrill Lynch who set up the 401 K, and this Wealth manager E mailed me to set up a phone call to discuss my concerns.

Step 3:
I responded that I would prefer adding the low cost Index funds to be in compliance with the ERISA law so there was no need for a phone call. I asked if the plan had been vetted for compliance and who the fiduciary was.

I have not received a response. It has been 7 days.

What do the next and I was considering this Email to my company's contact, not the wealth manager.

Future Step 4: ( not sent yet)

Cut and paste from the Wiki as template to create this follow up Email.

Dear Sir,

While the company's 401 K set up appears sound there is room for improvement by adding a few low cost index funds.

What is more as I understand it, it is the law: the company has an obligation to provide fiduciary responsibility for our 401(k) plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)[1].

High expense ratios (averaging 1% or more), loads and or 12b-1 fees present red flags. Only one index funds option should also put one on the alert.

Are you the fiduciary and if not, can you let me know who is?

I request all documents related to the plan. (long list and and for this see the Wiki)

401(k) plans must offer a diversified selection of funds. And the following quote from an article titled “A Look at 401(k) Plan Fees” [4] from the U.S. Department of Labor says, While actively managed funds seek to provide higher returns than the market, neither active management nor higher fees necessarily guarantee higher returns. Funds that are “passively managed” generally have lower management fees. Passively managed funds seek to obtain the investment results of an established market index.

That statement may be interpreted to mean at least three index funds should be available.

I would suggest adding the following funds:

VTSAX--Vanguard Total Stock Market Admiral

VBTLX--Vanguard Total Bond Index Admiral

VFWAX--Vanguard FTSE All World Ex US Admiral


Even better would be if these could be institutional.

Sincerely,

W.


1. Any thoughts on this Email?
2. How to improve on the Email?
3. Add Fidelity or other funds?
4. Copy the wealth manager? Copy the CEO or Board of Directors?
5. When to send it? e.g. if there are no further posts in 24 hours on this thread?

6. If I do not get a response what would you suggest as the next step?
7. Should I Email or call other participants who would benefit from better options?

Once I have sent this Email, I will post updates.

Thanks
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Nate79
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Nate79 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:19 pm

Some thoughts.
What are the lowest cost funds in your plan?
Perhaps you should remove Vanguard fund names and instead ask for low cost index fund such as S&P500, extended market, mid cap and small cap index, total international and total bond fund. These can be available from a number of low cost index providers like Vanguard, Fidelity, Blackrock, etc.

I'm not even sure if the admiral share class is available to invest by your plan. By requesting funds that may not be available you would come off as an uninformed fool to the advisor. General request of index funds I think would be better received. Asking for different asset classes, and especially a S&P500 would probably also have better chance especially as participants like to use these.

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whodidntante
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by whodidntante » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:33 pm

I cannot recommend being the squeaky wheel, but it has always worked so well for me.

My once terrible 401k has been significantly improved twice, and now I actually have a low cost way to implement a three fund portfolio, and a DFA small value fund as well. It's not the 401k I would design if you handed me the job, but it's MUCH better than the [self-redacted] we started with.

My approach was more subtle than yours. You are making a thinly-veiled accusation of malfeasance in my opinion. That might actually be how you feel, but I personally wouldn't express it. These things usually come down to ignorance and/or the costs of providing a better plan. You might be able to overcome both with education and patience.

Stormbringer
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Stormbringer » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:15 am

A while back, I had my wife nag her company's finance guy to add low-cost index funds to their 401k. He thought that was a really strange request ("who invests like that?"). It took a few years, but when the company switched to Fidelity they started offering Vanguard index funds, which seems odd in itself. It might have helped that she is a VP.

They still offer some beauties like this:

Image
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munemaker
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by munemaker » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:45 am

My previous employer had a 401k committee that met quarterly with a representative from the plan administrator. The committee made decisions regarding when to add and remove fund choices (within a menu that the plan administrator could make available). Even with a committee like that, it was difficult to add low cost index funds. Employees on the committee are not that knowledgable on investing and are somewhat seduced by past performance numbers. Fortunately there was one low cost S&P 500 index fund, and that's what I used exclusively.

In the companies I have worked for, HR was the primary interface with the plan administrator, and finance had their fingers in the relationship too. You should find out who inside your company is the interface and have a chat with her.

Thing to remember is there are extra costs associated with a 401k plan (compared to your personal accounts), and often some or these costs are paid for by the participants. It is now always reasonable to expect you are going to get the same low cost funds that you have in your personal accounts (unless you pay a separate fee, or unless your employer pays all the expenses).

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Wildebeest
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Wildebeest » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:15 pm

Nate79 wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:19 pm
Some thoughts.
What are the lowest cost funds in your plan?
Perhaps you should remove Vanguard fund names and instead ask for low cost index fund such as S&P500, extended market, mid cap and small cap index, total international and total bond fund. These can be available from a number of low cost index providers like Vanguard, Fidelity, Blackrock, etc.

I'm not even sure if the admiral share class is available to invest by your plan. By requesting funds that may not be available you would come off as an uninformed fool to the advisor. General request of index funds I think would be better received. Asking for different asset classes, and especially a S&P500 would probably also have better chance especially as participants like to use these.
Excellent thoughts.

The lowest fund is a Black Rock S&P 500 fund at expense ratio of 0.11 %. Not bad and I can live with it even while Vanguard and Fidelity are lower. However the average other funds are 1 + % fund expense ratio funds .

I feel bad for all the other participants in this 401 K who do not realize the effects of expense ratio's on their investment return.

This new 401 K expense ratio I found to really high. A sampling:

American Funds 2020 Target Date Expense ratio 1.17%/1.07%
American Funds 2025 Target Date 1.19%/1.09%
American Funds 2030 Target Date 1.20%/1.10%
American Funds 2035 Target Date 1.20%/1.10%
American Funds 2040 Target Date 1.21%/1.11%
American Funds 2045 Target Date 1.21%/1.11%
American Funds 2050 Target Date 1.26%/1.16%
American Funds Trgt Date Ret 2055 1.40%/1.12%
Dreyfus International Equity Fund A1,2 1.53%/1.50%
Ivy Emerging Markets Equity 0.97%/0.91%
Janus Global Research 1.33%/1.33%
Oakmark International 1.14%/1.14%
Oppenheimer International Growth A 1.19%/1.19%
BlackRock Health Sciences Opps 0.86%/0.86%
Davis Financial A1,2 1.26%/1.26%
Ivy Science & Technology A2 Expenses~6.48% 0.82%/0.82%
Prudential Jennison Utility A1,2 1.30%/1.30%
Principal Real Estate Securities A1,2 1.31%
Morningstar Real Estate Sector 1.15%/1.15%
Janus Triton A2
JGMAX -
Morningstar Small Growth TR 2.08%/1.57%
Undiscovered Mgrs Behavioral
Value A1,2

And even the bond funds have a 1 + % expense ratio.

I am over 59 1/2 and I will transfer out ASAP. I am concerned for the employees, who can not.
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Wildebeest
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Wildebeest » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:47 pm

whodidntante wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:33 pm
I cannot recommend being the squeaky wheel, but it has always worked so well for me.

My once terrible 401k has been significantly improved twice, and now I actually have a low cost way to implement a three fund portfolio, and a DFA small value fund as well. It's not the 401k I would design if you handed me the job, but it's MUCH better than the [self-redacted] we started with.

My approach was more subtle than yours. You are making a thinly-veiled accusation of malfeasance in my opinion. That might actually be how you feel, but I personally wouldn't express it. These things usually come down to ignorance and/or the costs of providing a better plan. You might be able to overcome both with education and patience.
Thanks for your input.

You are right: Subtle I am not when I think the plan has high expenses and has unduly harmful to the average employee. I have tried to reach out Plan administrator and he has asked the Merrill Lynch wealth manager to address my E mail after first ignoring my initial Email for 6 months.

I take this as that the plan administrator wants me to go away and hopes that deferring me to ML wealth manager assures that I will be taken care off.

I was trying to use language the plan administrator can not ignore about protection granted to the 401 K employee by ERISA.

Please share how you went from a once terrible 401 K to a three fund portfolio and and got your DFA small value fund as well.
What was the time table and time investment on your end?
Do you think ERISA gives us a right to low cost index funds?
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whodidntante
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by whodidntante » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:08 pm

Wildebeest wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:47 pm
Please share how you went from a once terrible 401 K to a three fund portfolio and and got your DFA small value fund as well.

I can tell you what I did. I have only fought this battle for 3 years and maybe a few months. I have worked for the company for much longer. It's a large-ish company; big enough to be difficult to navigate. I have minor clout within my division, but none that would extend to the corporate functions.

The first thing I did was to understand who could help. I looked up who the 401k administrator was, which is public information. I personally knew that person and I knew he was more of a visionary, influential, high level thinking guy, not someone that I felt would carry my concerns which were frankly in the weeds of details. So I used my network to find out who the other decisions makers were. I found there was an employee ran benefit committee, and a committee that selected the investments (presumably with the help of an advisor). I found an "in" with someone that I had pleasant prior dealings with on an unrelated matter. She was quite far away, so I wrote her an e-mail, similar to the below (I no longer have it):


I have a couple of suggestions for our company 401k plan that I want to share.

Our present investment lineup mostly consists of expensive, actively managed mutual funds. These expenses add up over the years and significantly impact investment returns. Our only index fund option charges much higher expenses than funds I can buy outside of our 401k. I'm writing to request changes to our investment lineup, in order to add low cost passive options to our plan from DFA, Vanguard, and other low-cost providers of passive mutual funds.

I also request that an after-tax contribution option be added to the plan, along with the ability to complete in-service rollovers of after-tax contributions.

I hope that you will consider these changes and I am happy to discuss it in more detail.



That resulted in a few more exchanges. It was slow, grinding, and mostly opaque. I just stayed patient, helpful, and collaborative/understanding.

I do not know, and I will never know, how much this contributed to the positive changes that occurred. But they did occur, and what I did could not have hurt.

texasdiver
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by texasdiver » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:54 pm

Went through this with my wife's previous 401k plan (actually a 403(b). It was being administered by Standard Insurance.

Turns out that they were more than happy to add some more funds to the portfolio. They added a suite of Vanguard index funds at her request (Not all, but enough of them) and they added target retirement funds but oddly from T. Rowe Price.

The kicker was that they plan was still mediocre because although the fund choices improved, they still had their management fee of 0.55% added on top of all the ordinary fund fees. So fund selection isn't everything. The only way to reduce that management fee would have been to change plan administrators and that simply wasn't going to happen. The day she left that job we put in the paperwork to roll the balance over to Vanguard.

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Wildebeest
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Wildebeest » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:02 am

Stormbringer wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:15 am
A while back, I had my wife nag her company's finance guy to add low-cost index funds to their 401k. He thought that was a really strange request ("who invests like that?"). It took a few years, but when the company switched to Fidelity they started offering Vanguard index funds, which seems odd in itself. It might have helped that she is a VP.

They still offer some beauties like this:

Image
Good to know. This gives me hope.

Did your wife call, meet or write to him?
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Wildebeest
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Wildebeest » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:20 am

munemaker wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:45 am
My previous employer had a 401k committee that met quarterly with a representative from the plan administrator. The committee made decisions regarding when to add and remove fund choices (within a menu that the plan administrator could make available). Even with a committee like that, it was difficult to add low cost index funds. Employees on the committee are not that knowledgable on investing and are somewhat seduced by past performance numbers. Fortunately there was one low cost S&P 500 index fund, and that's what I used exclusively.

In the companies I have worked for, HR was the primary interface with the plan administrator, and finance had their fingers in the relationship too. You should find out who inside your company is the interface and have a chat with her.

Thing to remember is there are extra costs associated with a 401k plan (compared to your personal accounts), and often some or these costs are paid for by the participants. It is now always reasonable to expect you are going to get the same low cost funds that you have in your personal accounts (unless you pay a separate fee, or unless your employer pays all the expenses).
Thanks for your insights. I will ask if I can join the 401 K committee as a member ( If they have me after my initial E mails). And if not, I'll request names as to who are part of this 401 K committee. May have the conference call with Wealth advisor after all.

In my current 401 K plan I make the decisions as to what to add and remove funds and pay all the expenses for the participants ( other than taking loans out). I had requested information as to what I would if I pay the extra fee to self manage, but again I was stonewalled.

I thought ERISA would make the 401 K committee much more on alert to add the low cost funds since there have been successful lawsuits over high cost funds.
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Stormbringer
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Stormbringer » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:05 am

Wildebeest wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:02 am
Did your wife call, meet or write to him?
I think she emailed him first and then talked to him personally.
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Wildebeest
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Wildebeest » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:57 pm

whodidntante wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:08 pm
Wildebeest wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:47 pm
Please share how you went from a once terrible 401 K to a three fund portfolio and and got your DFA small value fund as well.

I can tell you what I did. I have only fought this battle for 3 years and maybe a few months. I have worked for the company for much longer. It's a large-ish company; big enough to be difficult to navigate. I have minor clout within my division, but none that would extend to the corporate functions.

The first thing I did was to understand who could help. I looked up who the 401k administrator was, which is public information. I personally knew that person and I knew he was more of a visionary, influential, high level thinking guy, not someone that I felt would carry my concerns which were frankly in the weeds of details. So I used my network to find out who the other decisions makers were. I found there was an employee ran benefit committee, and a committee that selected the investments (presumably with the help of an advisor). I found an "in" with someone that I had pleasant prior dealings with on an unrelated matter. She was quite far away, so I wrote her an e-mail, similar to the below (I no longer have it):


I have a couple of suggestions for our company 401k plan that I want to share.

Our present investment lineup mostly consists of expensive, actively managed mutual funds. These expenses add up over the years and significantly impact investment returns. Our only index fund option charges much higher expenses than funds I can buy outside of our 401k. I'm writing to request changes to our investment lineup, in order to add low cost passive options to our plan from DFA, Vanguard, and other low-cost providers of passive mutual funds.

I also request that an after-tax contribution option be added to the plan, along with the ability to complete in-service rollovers of after-tax contributions.

I hope that you will consider these changes and I am happy to discuss it in more detail.



That resulted in a few more exchanges. It was slow, grinding, and mostly opaque. I just stayed patient, helpful, and collaborative/understanding.

I do not know, and I will never know, how much this contributed to the positive changes that occurred. But they did occur, and what I did could not have hurt.
Great Email and I will send use it to send to the investment committee at the company. After finding out who they are, I have no chance of joining them ( 5 leaderships positions of the company).

I guess I have to dig in for the long run as you did so successfully and hope I can stay as collaborative and understanding and copy them on lawsuits regarding high expense fund options as they occur.

I especially like the line in your email about the after tax contribution to be added and the ability to complete in-service rollovers of after-tax contributions.
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Wildebeest
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Wildebeest » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:02 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:54 pm
Went through this with my wife's previous 401k plan (actually a 403(b). It was being administered by Standard Insurance.

Turns out that they were more than happy to add some more funds to the portfolio. They added a suite of Vanguard index funds at her request (Not all, but enough of them) and they added target retirement funds but oddly from T. Rowe Price.

The kicker was that they plan was still mediocre because although the fund choices improved, they still had their management fee of 0.55% added on top of all the ordinary fund fees. So fund selection isn't everything. The only way to reduce that management fee would have been to change plan administrators and that simply wasn't going to happen. The day she left that job we put in the paperwork to roll the balance over to Vanguard.

Good to know. Our plan does not have a management fee. As I was explained that the high expense ratios take care of the administrative fees other 401 K plans charge. I am grateful I over 59 and 1/2 and can move my 401 K to an IRA.
The Golden Rule: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

munemaker
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by munemaker » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:12 pm

Wildebeest wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:20 am


In my current 401 K plan I make the decisions as to what to add and remove funds and pay all the expenses for the participants ( other than taking loans out). I had requested information as to what I would if I pay the extra fee to self manage, but again I was stonewalled.
Not sure if we are talking about the same thing or not. To clarify: The committee would make changes to the list of funds that employees could invest in. The committee could not pick any funds in the universe. They were limited to funds that the administrator had available on a kind of master list. Generally these funds had higher expense ratios than the best funds that you could buy retail, but they were not in what I would consider the gouging category. The one exception was the S&P 500 index fund which was very low cost. The reason for the higher expense ratios is that is what paid for the expenses of operating the company's 401(k). In our case, the administrator would have CFAs come in and make presentations and meet individually with employees and their spouses (if they wanted). They maintained a telephone service for employees to call to check on their account or get advice. They provided comprehensive quarterly reports to the committee. There are legal requirements for filing documents, performing discrimination tests and having third party audits performed. No one wants to hear it, but someone has to pay for this overhead. Sometimes the company does...sometimes not.

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Wildebeest
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Wildebeest » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:21 pm

munemaker wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:12 pm

Not sure if we are talking about the same thing or not. ... snip ... There are legal requirements for filing documents, performing discrimination tests and having third party audits performed. No one wants to hear it, but someone has to pay for this overhead. Sometimes the company does...sometimes not.
I guess I did not know how good I had it till I joined a large company and was not told I had to join their 401 K, till 18 months after/ later ( at the time I joined they did not have a 401 K). You are so right that somebody has to pay for the benefits offered. I pay the larger company on a year to year basis to join them and now I make less money ( I was told it was revenue neutral ( silly me)), so it hurts to find out their 401 K has worse choices and I am paying them so my 401 K has higher expense ratios: "Buyer beware ( except I did not know what I was buying a 401 K plan)".

I would like the costs and benefits of a 401K to be transparent to all. I wish I have the wherewithal to be like Whodidnante, Stormbringer and texasdiver or you and be patient and persistent and successful in changing the 401 K and I'll keep at it to see if can be make a change for the better.

The one thing that keeps my sanity intact is that I can walk away and retire and be fine. That is peace of mind.
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financeidiot
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by financeidiot » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:02 pm

Not sure how large your company is, but this may be better managed through personal conversations with whoever is in charge of 401k selection. The stock emails you sent sound more like something you would send before a lawsuit than an honest request from someone who is interested in improving the company. They could be ignoring you to put you in your place instead of thinking about the content of your suggestions.

Improving the 401k plan benefits all employees and should be treated as colleagues helping one another. Change takes time and you'll likely need to convince whoever the decision makers are that it's their idea. Get to know the decision makers, learn why they chose the current plan administrator, how they make decisions, and show them how they would benefit from lower cost friends as a trusted colleague. If you're sealed off from the decision makers, you can coach a champion (your boss or another higher up) to make the case for you.

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Wildebeest
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Wildebeest » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:01 pm

financeidiot wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:02 pm
Not sure how large your company is, but this may be better managed through personal conversations with whoever is in charge of 401k selection. The stock emails you sent sound more like something you would send before a lawsuit than an honest request from someone who is interested in improving the company. They could be ignoring you to put you in your place instead of thinking about the content of your suggestions.

Improving the 401k plan benefits all employees and should be treated as colleagues helping one another. Change takes time and you'll likely need to convince whoever the decision makers are that it's their idea. Get to know the decision makers, learn why they chose the current plan administrator, how they make decisions, and show them how they would benefit from lower cost friends as a trusted colleague. If you're sealed off from the decision makers, you can coach a champion (your boss or another higher up) to make the case for you.
The company is big and it galls me that I do a better job for my employees, than a larger company which in principle should get a better deal for their employees and lower expense ratios than a small company.

I had "paste and copied" from the Boglehead Wiki "Advocating for better 401 K ", because I imagined that would scare them in submission and would the best way to get the most advantageous expense ratios for participants in the 401 K plan.

So far: " no go".

I agree that a 401 K plan should benefit all employees and I am willing to do my part to make it happen. If I am ignored and put in my place, that is okay. I feel secure in what I bring to the table. If I fail, it is not for lack of trying and I hope that the next Boglehead going for a better options in a 401 K plan will learn from my attempts and does better.

You are right that I am impatient and I do not particularly care about the decision makers and I think they should care about what is right for their employees. I will keep at it.

You bring up good points, and I will try to be less adversarial in the future.

Thanks
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Wildebeest
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Re: Quest for better fund selection in 401 K

Post by Wildebeest » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:42 pm

Yesterday I attended a webinar sponsored by XXXX and Merrill Lynch to explain the details of how their 401K plan worked.

In the presentation we were told we have two options:
1]You can freeze your current 401 K plan or
2] Roll over your assets in the the XXX plan.
If you roll the 401 K plan in the XXX plan you have no costs. We were told that every body on the retirement plan team was a fiduciary including the portfolio manager for Merrill Lynch,


I was told I can not transfer my current very low fee funds to XXX Merrill Lynch and keep the same funds I have now. I have to pick from their offering of funds. I asked about the self directed account and what choices I would have. I got an email but could not make heads or tails of it and the ML wealth manager suggested I call him.

I asked my current consultant: Will you help me weigh the following options and advise me what I should do?

1. Freeze my current 401 K account. What would be my costs be from year to year?
2. Take service distribution from XXX to an IRA account. [This will only apply to us since we are over the 59.5]. If we do this can we keep the same funds in the IRA that we have within Alerus? Would you suggest I keep the IRA with Alerus?. I had contacted Alerus regarding this a while back and I did not get a straight answer that I understood . Other options I have considered are E-trade or Fidelity or FPL
3. Pursue the self directed option with XXX ( the Merrill Lynch cost of 0.8 % is too rich for me. Mr X mentions I could pick a custodian of my choice. I'm not sure what the custodian is or could be. What questions do you advise that I ask.other than what the cost would be?}
4. Am I missing other options?
The Golden Rule: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

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