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Lawmakers urge oversight to prevent retirement savings withdrawals

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Mortgage woes and spiraling credit debt have many investors using their retirement savings to bail them out for the short term. The concerning trend is causing lawmakers to take action.

In letters sent to nine overseers of 401(k) and retirement plans, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), president of The Senate Special Committee on Aging is urging retirement investment firms to take a hard look at how they disclose fees and risks associated with rolling over or tapping into retirement accounts. Among the companies contacted were bigger firms like T. Rowe and Price and Fidelity Investments.

Some investment advisors are agreeing with the committee’s efforts. Dean Kohmann, vice president of 401(k) services at Charles Schwab in Richfield, Ohio, tells the Washington Post many investors who borrow or withdraw money from retirement savings risk depleting their income and buy for a “short-term risk.”

Furthermore, those who are less vulnerable to financial problems often still make the mistake of reducing their savings contributions. Kohmann tells the Post that dollar-cost averaging, or making routine contributions to investments as a way to sidestep the market’s ups and downs, will create opportunity when the market heads south.

The committee will hold hearings next month, the Post reports. There is no word yet on whether those investment service firms the committee has contacted will be asked to testify.


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