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Ric Edelman: How to Bring 401(k) Plans Into the 21st Century

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Ric Edelman, CEO of Edelman Financial Services LLC, has penned a new white paper that the firm says identifies problems with 401(k) plans and provides methods employers can use to save time and money on plan administration, reduce their fiduciary risks, and attract and retain high-quality employees.

The White Paper, “Bringing 401(k) Plans Into the 21st Century,” is available for free at “Workers should be able to create a sufficient amount of retirement income through their 401(k) plans,” said Edelman in a statement. “Yet millions of employees will instead reach retirement without enough money due to poor plan design, limited or inferior investment opportunities and excessive costs.”

Edelman notes in his white paper that when created and administered correctly, “a company’s 401(k) plan should help it attract and retain workers. Period.” If workers are not overtly enthusiastic about the plan, he says, “if new hires do not cite the plan as a significant reason for accepting the job offer, and if employee participation rates are not near 100%, then the plan is failing to do its job.”

Edelman says that “ideal 401(k) plan” will have the following attributes:

For the employer:

Attraction in recruiting and maintaining high-quality workers;

Low cost to create, administer and maintain the plan;

Ease of plan administration and management;

Compliance with all applicable laws and regulations; and

Low fiduciary risk.

For the worker:

Low cost to contribute, invest and managemoney in the plan

Wide variety of investment choices;

Low risk, with returns reflecting the market’s return as a whole;

Emphasis on diversification, asset allocation and portfolio construction, not investment selection or market timing;

Clear and complete periodic statements disclosing all important information about the plan;

Suitable and appropriate investments; and

Complete guidance and advice to help each employee make the investment decisions that are right for them.