Now, finally, many employees will see just how much their accounts have been whittled away by fees — fees that, in this market especially, can spell the difference between making money and losing money in a given investment.
Regardless of their size, companies that fail to comply with the new rules may be hit with severe fines and other sanctions.
Many people aren't aware that when it comes to their 401(k) plans, employers and employees are basically in it together. Companies don't benefit from substandard or overpriced plans. Indeed, top managers suffer because they invest in these plans themselves.
At this critical juncture for 401(k) plans, you can improve your plan, and your prospects for retirement security, by:
• Resolving (if you haven't already) to pay more attention to your plan and your responsibilities under it.
• Checking with your company's human resources department to see if preparations are under way to send employees the required fee disclosures by Aug. 31. If so, is the company making progress at determining whether these fees are reasonable?
• Volunteering to work with your employer by serving on committees being created to consider changes, potentially including seeking new service providers with more-reasonable fees and improved plan education, so employees can make more informed investing decisions.
• Seeking to learn more about your plan's investment options and how to best choose from them to assemble and maintain a portfolio that meets your goals, age and risk tolerance.
After all, it's your retirement, not someone else's. By working with your employer, you can be part of a national 401(k) awakening aimed at increasing the average person's chances of retiring with dignity.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Anthony Kippins is president of Retirement Plan Advisors, Ltd. a Registered Investment Advisory firm that addresses the needs of retirement plans and the employees who invest in them. An Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst (AIFA®) with more than 30 years of experience domestically and abroad, Kippins specializes in providing fiduciary advice to retirement plans on governance, investments and educational services. He also advises individual clients on retirement planning and investment management after retirement. Kippins serves as managing director of Institutional Fiduciary Assurance LLC, an organization that provides fiduciary advice to trustees of endowments, foundations, non-profit organizations and charitable trusts. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.