By Stephen J Butler
The writer, cofounder of a third-party pension management company and public speaker, discusses how 401(k) plans paintings, tips on how to determine the standard of a plan, and the way to revamp it to be greater. Of most likely curiosity to corporation decision-makers and energetic 401(k) plan members.
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Extra info for 401(k) today: designing, maintaining & maximizing your company's plan
What is the reason for this relatively infrequent use of loans? My best guess is that 401(k) money becomes sacrosanct in many participants' minds. They would rather borrow conventionally than tamper with their 401(k) money. There is also the possible opportunity cost: if the participant borrows from an investment returning 12% annually and the participant pays only 8% on the loan, he or she misses out on a net 4% of return on the outstanding amount of the loan. On the other hand, if an employee is contributing to a 401(k) for the sole purpose of bor- Page 20 rowing the money back relatively soon, that money will be invested in a money market fund.
The responsibility lies with the plan sponsor. Daily Valuation Versus Quarterly ValuationA New Look The issue remains as to whether daily valuation with 800-numbers (and now Internet access) is worth what might be an extra cost. The fact is that 401(k) participants demand the service for psychological reasons. The average participant today has owned retail mutual funds in which individual service and a level of immediacy is routine. This makes it difficult for participants to understand why, in a 401(k) plan, their money may only be valued quarterly and why they have to wait several weeks after the quarter to receive their statements.
This difficult issue was discussed at a Western Pension Conference in San Francisco, where I sat on a panel with human resource professionals and lawyers from a collection of major Silicon Valley Fortune 4,000 companies. They were talking about how difficult it was to play God, as they struggled to determine what really qualified as a hardship distribution. Some of them elected to hear each participant's story and determine if it qualified for a hardship distribution. Was a new engine for the car that the participant used to get to work an acceptable hardship?
401(k) today: designing, maintaining & maximizing your company's plan by Stephen J Butler