Data and Research

403(b) Plan Fees Mostly In Line With Other DC Plan Fees

Data from the PLANSPONSOR DC Survey indicates there were only slightly more 403(b) plans with investment expense ratios in the upper extremes than all DC plans, even among non-ERISA plans.

By Rebecca Moore editors@plansponsor.com | January 09, 2017

According to the 2016 PLANSPONSOR Defined Contribution (DC) Survey, average asset-weighted expense ratios of all investment options in 403(b) plans are mostly in line with that of all DC plans.

While there were slightly more 403(b) plans with expense ratios in the upper extremes than all DC plans—0.3% of 403(b) plans had expense ratios between 2.01% and 2.5% versus 0.2% of all DC plans, and 0.8% of 403(b) plans had expense ratios of more than 2.5% versus 0.2% of all DC plans—9.1% of 403(b) plans had expense ratios less than 0.25%, compared with 10.5% of all DC plans.

In addition, 21.8% of 403(b) plans had expense ratios between 0.25% and 0.50% compared with 21.2% of all DC plans, and 15% of 403(b) plans had expense ratios between 0.51% and 0.75% compared with 16.7% of all DC plans. The survey found 7.5% of 403(b) plans had expense ratios between 0.76% and 1.00%, while 12.3 % of all DC plans had expense ratios in this range.

Even among 403(b) plans not governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (non-ERISA plans), there was not much difference between their expense ratios and those of all DC plans. The survey found 7.1% of non-ERISA 403(b)s had expense ratios less than 0.25%, 17.3% had expense ratios between 0.25% and 0.50%, and 14.3% had expense ratios between 0.51% and 0.75%.

According to the survey 71.8% of all 403(b) plans formally review actual administrative costs and fess of their plans annually, 10.8% do so every one to two years, and 6.9% do so every two to three years. Among non-ERISA plans, the percentages are 75.9%, 10.6% and 5.0%, respectively.

The PLANSPONSOR DC Survey received responses from 481 403(b) plans, including 112 non-ERISA plans.

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