The heat is on in the 401(k) industry, and the push for changes could wind up being a boon to exchange traded funds (ETFs) if those in power are listening closely and if investors fight for themselves.
The criticism of the 401(k) industry is getting louder and harder to ignore, and even Congress is paying attention. Rep. George Miller has a schedule of reforms that many investors and experts would like to see implemented. Rep. Miller is taking the mutual fund industry to task over their hand in the decimation of many individual investors’ portfolios, and this could solidify the case for ETFs to enter into this investment arena once and for all.
There are two big issues here: extremely poor fee disclosure and a lack of good education. Rep. Miller is working hard to take on this issue on both fronts.
This Sunday’s 60 Minutes focused on the need for more reform within the 401(k) industry. Watch it at CBS’s website.
In the interview, Rep. Miller called for more fee transparency and portrayed the fund industry as aggressively opposed to this as their fee revenue would be lost. In the report, which should make every investor angry, he held up a prospectus and challenged anyone to find the dozen-plus fees investors are socked with on an annual basis. Some can be located, but many can’t. And good luck understanding the prospectus at all – it’s a rare one that’s written in plain English.
60 Minutes also attributes the rise of the 401(k) industry to the ease of exploiting novice investors, says Joe Morris of Ignites. Many mutual funds recommended for plan inclusion are just average, the 60 Minutes report said, and often investors who have no expertise or understanding of mutual funds are asked to make difficult choices about the very investments that could determine their futures.