Fee Disclosure, the Wall Street Journal, and the Value of Regulation

Well, its 2012 and its time to pay close attention to fee disclosure involving 401(k) plans, for those of you who weren’t thinking about it already. The Wall Street Journal caught the bug yesterday, in this article that got wide play. I will tell you what about it caught my attention, which was the quote that the prospect of fee disclosure alone is already "putting downward pressure on fees." I have written on many occasions that the point of the fee disclosure regulations is to create marketplace pressure, driven by sponsors who are worried about the liability risk of failing to target fees and by participants challenging the amount of fees, that will reduce the costs inherent in plans. As I have written before, this approach will affect fees and benefit participants to a far greater degree than the hit or miss excessive fee litigation that has been targeting these issues to date. If the Wall Street Journal says this is already having this effect, then how much more proof do we need?

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