Paul Merriman writes about seven fatal flaws in America’s 401(k) plans:
#1 Restricted Access
The first and biggest flaw in 401(k) plans is restricted access to the best investment choices
#2 Participation not required
I believe that many American households, with nothing saved for retirement, are headed by employed breadwinners who could participate in a 401(k) retirement plan
#3 Insufficient employer match
I also think employers should be required to match at least a quarter of what each employee contributes — after the waiting period, of course.
#4 Employees bear the costs
Many employers make their workers pay the costs of administering a 401(k) plan, which should be treated as an employee benefit that’s paid for by the company. In far too many cases, the costs paid by employees are hidden in the form of higher fees for investment funds.
#5 No Rollover IRA option
Federal law allows — but doesn’t require — employers to let employees move part or all of their 401(k) balances into a Rollover IRA while continuing to contribute to the company plan. All workers should have this option, which gives them access to virtually unlimited investment choices.
#6 Too much company stock
Corporate 401(K) plans often encourage participants to load up on company stock. There’s probably no way to stop this short of a federal law, because employers with publicly-traded stock love the steady market that’s created for their shares every payday.
#7 Default options are too safe
Too many plans steer contributions to low-performance investments. It’s bad enough that the employee’s default option in many plans is simply not to participate. But for those who do sign up, it’s equally wrong to have a default option of a stable value fund that virtually guarantees the employee will gradually lose some of the purchasing power of their savings.