SURVEY SAYS: Using Trade Publications to Inform Plan Decisions

There are several trade publications that report about retirement plan design, investments, administration and compliance.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “How much do you use articles in trade publications to inform decisions about your plan?”


More than two in 10 (21%) of responding readers reported they use articles in trade publications to inform decisions about their plan very much. Close to one-third (31.6%) use trade publications somewhat to inform plan decisions, while more than one-quarter (26.3%) indicate they use them a little. More than 10% said they rarely use articles in trade publications to inform decisions about their plan, and the same percentage (10.5%) indicated they do not use them at all.


Many respondents who chose to leave comments said articles in trade publications can be a good source for informing plan decisions, but many accurately noted that they should be considered along with other things (such as the help of a consultant) when actually making plan decisions. Some said one must consider the qualifications of the author as well as the purpose of the article. There is no Editor’s Choice this week.


Thanks to all who participated in the survey!




We have a fabulous plan consultant that oversees our investments and makes recommendations. The articles are interesting but not influential.

To be a competent professional, such reading is essential.

Much depends on the journal in which the article appears as well as the qualifications of the author. Authors who are consultants are usually just trying to sell something – and too often, those are re-hashed ideas that have failed in the past – but with a bit of new window dressing.

Trade publications are a great source for plan design enhancements. Always filtered through the lens of, are these truly worthwhile developments, or, strictly income streams for advisers?

I look for the up and coming trends as a way to evaluate additional improvements for our DC plan.

I use trade pubs to keep informed on what’s happening, and my internal stakeholders to get a sense of the feedback they’re receiving. It is the mesh of those two, plus consultants, that works for me.

They keep me informed about actual and potential changes to regulations, ongoing case law, new products and trends.

Only to the extent that we ensure we are up on the latest legislation.

The volatility of the stock market and even bonds isn’t addressed much in trade publications. They all seem to tow the line when it comes to 401(k)’s. But a lot of Americans rely on a 401(k) for retirement. And the risk is not being addressed. So, I don’t really rely much on them for advice or help.

Use the articles to provide us with new ideas, keep us compliant, best practices for our 401(k) plan.

They are good resources to utilize but should not directly affect one’s decision about the plan.

It doesn’t matter how accurate or well-researched recommendations and/or cautions are, there’s nothing like an independent article from a credible source to motivate action/response.



NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.