Beware High 401(k) Fees What you need to know about the charges behind 401(k) plans to keep your employees happy.
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How I Saved
Bob Syracuse, co-owner, Pizza Plant Italian Pub, Williamsville, N.Y.
"In 1994, we joined a barter organization [International Monetary System, formerly Rochester Trade Exchange] because it seemed interesting. It works. We've remodeled our restaurant facilities and purchased advertising, window cleaning and even food items through the group. Our purchases work like a credit card--we buy something, it goes through the barter service, then they debit our account and credit the other individual's account. We still have to pay sales tax, which we would pay anyway. We also get a 1099-B for anything we've purchased, but from that we can deduct the expenses of what we have provided. We do about $20,000 worth of barter per year. We save an average of about $4,000 per year in the difference between the value we receive and the cost of the items we provide."
Last year, Caterpillar settled a lawsuit brought by its employees, claiming that the construction and manufacturing giant failed to fulfill its fiduciary duty to ensure the fees on its 401(k) plan were not excessively high. The August settlement cost the Peoria, Ill., company $16.5 million.
Business owners offering 401(k) plans have a fiduciary duty to their employees, says Jonathan Bergman, vice president and chief investment officer of Palisades Hudson Financial Group, a financial planning firm in Scarsdale, N.Y. He says your plan should meet the following criteria, at minimum: