Fiduciary Requirements for Disclosure in Participant-Directed Individual Account Plans
EBSA plans to enhance retirement security by ensuring that all workers who invest the assets in their 401(k)-type plans are given the information they need to make informed decisions about the management of their individual accounts and the investment of their retirement savings, including information about fees and expenses, and that such information will be presented to workers in a format that makes it easy for them to compare the investment options under their plan.
Key Action: Final Regulation
The Department's EBSA plans to publish a final regulation in September 2010 imposing this disclosure obligation on plan fiduciaries of all participant-directed individual account plans.
Key Concern and Issues to be Addressed
An estimated 70 million participants are covered by approximately 466,000 participant-directed individual account plans (including 401(k) plans). These plans give participants and beneficiaries the opportunity to direct the investment of all or a portion of the nearly $2.8 trillion in assets held by these plans.
While workers in these plans are responsible for making retirement savings decisions, there is concern as to whether they have access to basic plan and investment information in a format useful to making informed decisions about the management of their own retirement accounts.
Plans that elect to comply with section 404(c) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act already disclose information to participants about their plans and designated investment options, including associated fees and expenses. However, compliance with section 404(c) is voluntary and because not all plans elect to comply, the 404(c) disclosure requirements do not extend to all participant-directed plans.
The Department published a proposed regulation on July 23, 2008.
The proposed regulation requires that uniform, basic disclosures be given to ALL participants and beneficiaries who direct the investment of assets in their individual accounts, and that investment-related information be presented in a format that makes comparisons easy.
The proposed regulation mandates that the required disclosures be provided on a regular and periodic basis, generally when a participant becomes eligible to participate in the plan, and annually thereafter.
The Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration estimates that the proposal will result in cost savings of $6.9 billion to participants and beneficiaries over the period 2009-2018.
The Department received approximately 100 comment letters on the proposal. Comments on the proposal are available at www.dol.gov/ebsa/regs/commentsmain.html.