PSNC 2013: After Fee Disclosure, Negotiating a Better Deal

June 5, 2013 ( - Even for companies that had full transparency before fee disclosure regulations, 408(b)(2) and 404(a)(5) still prompted change in their businesses.

Genny Sedgwick, principal at Milliman, said during a panel at the 2013 PLANSPONSOR National Conference that although her company’s entire book of business already had fee transparency, fee disclosure regulations spurred more education initiatives. In educating plan sponsor committees about fee disclosure, the outcome included investment changes. “There were a lot of changes in the fund menu,” Sedgwick said.

More index funds were also added to plan menus, she added, anticipating that participants would ask for lower-cost investments following fee disclosure.

Overall, Sedgwick said Milliman welcomed fee disclosure because it leveled the playing field by requiring more transparency across the industry.

Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, agreed that transparency is a good thing. “We believe that transparency will certainly lead to lower fees,” he said during the panel.

Benjamin said he and other staff members are facilitating conversations with mayors across the country to help people understand their roles as a fiduciary. Benjamin said he wants to make sure that in the public sector, “we’re encouraging our members to ask the tough questions, to ask their providers … what types of disclosure do you do for your private sector clients? We want the same type of service.”

In light of the regulations, clients should ask whether they are getting the outcomes they want in relation to the fees they are paying, concluded Suzanne Herbst, managing director at Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement & Trust. Three keys to successful outcomes in a retirement plan are ensuring employees participate in the plan; that they are saving enough; and that their portfolios are adequately diversified, she said.