401(k) Providers

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It's hard for 401(k) sponsors to get it right these days. On one hand, getting employees to participate in defined-contribution plans can be like pulling teeth. On the other, some employees are rising up in high-profile lawsuits to protest minutiae like the web of fees associated with mutual funds.

This year, we tackle both sides of the problem in our annual look at 401(k) trends. "Sea Change" looks at how employers are dummy-proofing their plans along the lines of the pension-plan model (without the funding, of course). Besides automatic enrollment, more companies now are offering employees better options for advice on how to allocate their funds, as well as the option to outsource the decisions altogether. They are also increasingly enhancing their target-date fund offerings for those who choose to make no decision.

In "Cracking Down on Fees," we look at how employers can take advantage of the firestorm around mutual-fund fees, ahead of new rules mandating additional disclosure expected out of both Congress and the Department of Labor. For one, administrative fees are more negotiable than ever as a result of increased transparency. Employers can also find ways to save on management fees — an increasing number are turning to alternative (and generally cheaper) structures known as collective trusts.

To see the results of our 2010 401(k) Providers Survey, go to the box at the bottom right-hand corner of this page.



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