401(k)s to Become More Transparent

If you’re one of the 72 million Americans with a 401(k), chances are you’ve spent some time puzzling over the variety of investment options at your disposal. Under new regulations announced yesterday by the Department of Labor, those options are about to get a little clearer.

The new rules were handed down by the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), and are aimed at giving employees the information they need to make an informed decision about their options.

“For the first time, workers will have at their fingertips important and accessible investment-related information to comparison shop among the plan options available to them,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in a statement.

Under the new rules, workers with 401(k) retirement plans will be provided details about these options in a “user-friendly format,” allowing them to make an apples-to-apples comparison across different plans. Required information includes the fees and expenses associated with each option, as well as historical return data, which will be calculated in a uniform way to better facilitate comparison shopping.

The new regulations will take effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

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