Excessive Fees, ERISA and 401(k) Plans

Here is an excellent article, by way of workplace prof, on the fees charged in 401(k) plans, their impact on performance, and the difficulty of even learning about them. We have talked before about how challenges to excessive fees charged to 401(k) plans is the new growth stock in ERISA litigation, and many people are always skeptical, often with good reason, when the plaintiffs’ bar moves into a new area and starts pressing a particular theory of liability against numerous companies and in many different jurisdictions. Yet articles like this one make clear that the underlying issue, of whether fees are appropriate and how they are arrived at, is a legitimate one with serious implications for the financial well being of the average investor, and for the retirement they can expect to afford. And at the same time, to the extent that excessive fees are a problem or the growth in this type of litigation is worrisome, it is clear that proper management by fiduciaries can eliminate both the problem of excessive fees and the potential liability of fiduciaries for allowing excessive fees.