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Researchers : Retirement Savings: Better Information and Sponsor Guidance Could Improve Oversight and Reduce Fees for Participants
Complete Description:American workers increasingly rely on defined contribution (DC) plans like 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts (IRA) for retirement income. In this report, GAO examined: (1) the types of fees charged to participants and investments of various DC plans; (2) how DC plan sponsor actions affect participant fees; (3) how fee disclosure requirements vary; and (4) the effectiveness of DC plan oversight. GAO reviewed laws and regulations and consulted with experts, federal officials, service providers, and six plan sponsors. Participants in DC plans and IRAs generally pay the same types of fees, regardless of the plan in which they are enrolled, such as investment management fees. However, participants in some plans are more likely to invest in products that may have higher fees. According to experts, one reason for the different investments is that many 403(b) plan sponsors do not make group products available to participants. DC plan sponsors generally take certain actions that decrease participants’ fees by offering cheaper investment products or pooling assets to obtain pricing advantages. 401(k) and 401(a) plan sponsors frequently pool participants’ assets to realize lower fees in mutual funds, but sponsors of 403(b) plans often do not. Fee disclosure requirements vary depending on plan regulations and investment regulations. Labor oversees disclosure for participants of certain DC plans, while IRS oversees tax laws that underlie all DC plans, but both lack information that could strengthen oversight. In addition, IRS and other regulators do not routinely share information with one another to use resources effectively and help enforce a rule requiring reasonable fees.
Date Published:Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Funding Agency: US General Accountability Office
Type: Report;
Source: Focus groups and/or interviews; Literature review;
Language: English
Audience: Researcher