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How might I go about finding out how my company's 401k stacks up against others in it's "peer group"?

My company isn't listed on the site. There are about 250 employees, and it's a non-profit that brings in around 100 million a year.

Nov 04, 2013 by tweek from Los Angeles, CA in  |  Flag
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4 votes
BrightScope Level 11

Thank you for inquiring about how to benchmark your retirement plan. While BrightScope does gather information on every retirement plan that files a Form 5500, we rate plans based on a variety of criteria including plan type, plan size, data availability and general interest. In addition, BrightScope can immediately rate a plan if a plan sponsor or participant uploads all the required data for a plan directly into the plan data vault.

Please see the Getting Involved section of our FAQ page for more information regarding the BrightScope Rating process, and what you can do to help us gather the necessary information to produce a BrightScope Rating: http://www.brightscope.com/faq/401k-retirement/

Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 05, 2013 from San Diego, CA

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The following information is primarily for Plan Fiduciaries.

There are many metrics you can use when tracking how your company’s retirement plan “stacks up” again similar size plans or those of firms in your industry. You could evaluate fees, participation rates, utilization rates (average deferral rate and/or employer contribution rate) and investment performance.

You can get an idea on how your fees stack up by purchasing the “401k Average Book” at www.401ksource.com. However you should know that while you can compare raw fees you are not comparing value. In other words your plan may have a higher all-in fee than most but you may also receive a much higher level of service designed to lead to better participant outcomes in retirement despite the higher fee. www.fiduciarybenchmarks.com will prepare a fee report for you that considers the level of effort provided by the plan’s service providers. You’ll pay more for this service but the answer will be much more accurate.

If you can’t find your plan on brightscope.com and you want to pursue the other metrics; investment performance, participation and utilization rates you will need to hire a consultant with access to this data as it is not readily available. My firm provides such Diagnostics Reports for a fee and we would be happy to help.

If you go down this road I encourage consideration of other measures such as the success of the plan’s education program and its compliance or fiduciary governance program. There is a lot to look at when evaluating how your plan stacks up and how it can be improved.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 04, 2013 from Woodbridge, VA

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Michael and John have good resources for you. One additional item to verify is the type of plan you have as the BrightScope site only references 401(k) plans. If you plan is a 403(b), 457, pension, or some other type of fund, it may be difficult to find peer rankings. But you should be able to find some type of plan document that details the plan fees and fees for the investments available to you. Your Human Resources Department may be able to point you in the right direction. Best of luck!

Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 04, 2013 from River Hills, SC

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Vanguard publishes an exhaustive annual study called "How America Saves". I have found it helpful to compare plans across various industries. Given the size and scope of Vanguard, their data set is pretty useful to grab some comparisons in areas like participation, costs, participant behavior, and the popularity of various plan provisions. Here is the link to the 2013 study:

https://institutional.vanguard.com/VGApp/iip/site/institutional/clientsolutions/dc/howamericasaves

Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 05, 2013 from Knoxville, TN

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There are couple of ways you can do that. First one is you can go back to your TPA, and ask them for a benchmark report a lot of times your admin is able to provide that to you. Depending on the advisor you are using, he/she might be able to help you. I know at our firm we have access to a great tool that does allow us to compare similar plans. The final way, would be to get a planner to come and run an evaluation of your plan and provide you with a written report on how your plan compares to others that are similar to you, as well as provide you with some ideas on how to improve it. For example funds line up, record keeping fees and so on. Please let me if you have any further questions. best of Luck. Sincerely. Michael Mezheritskiy. www.VisionaryWealthMgmt.com

Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 04, 2013 from Farmington, CT

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1 vote

Ditto's...

Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 14, 2013 from Springfield, MO

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