Fiduciary Responsibility Is Most Important Plan Sponsor Issue

Fiduciary responsibility and fee transparency are at the forefront of important issues in the 401(k) market, an informal survey of retirement plan consultants says.

The majority of 40 of the industry’s most influential retirement plan consultants surveyed at an April Charles Schwab conference reported that fiduciary responsibility is the most important issue for plan sponsors today, followed by fee transparency and plan costs ranking second and third in order of importance.

When asked what issues have increased in importance for plan sponsors in the past three to five years, the majority of consultants said that fee transparency is the area that has grown the most in importance for plan sponsors.

The consultants said the results of 2008 presidential election should have little or no impact on 401(k)s, and in general, consultants are not overly concerned with the current economic environment relative to the future of the retirement industry, according to Charles Schwab. Consultants surveyed did, however, see target-date retirement funds and the effects of Baby Boomers withdrawing funds from their 401(k)s as potentially having a larger impact on the retirement industry in the next five years.

The consultants also said the number of plan sponsors interested in evaluating switching plan administrators seems to be on the rise over the last few years. They also see a growing trend of 401(k) plans moving from wirehouse advisers to registered investment advisers (RIAs).