SURVEY SAYS: What's Going on With Your Plan Fees?

November 5, 2009 ( - Earlier this week, we reported on an NEPC survey that suggested that recordkeeping fees were declining.

For this week’s bonus question we asked readers if their retirement plan fees had changed in the past year – and guess, what?  

Well, there’s been a lot of change – but according to this week’s bonus survey respondents, anyway – that doesn’t seem to apply to retirement plan fees.   Just over four-in-ten (41.2%) said there had been no change.

Change Rates

That said, nearly 27% said that there had been change, albeit in a variety of ways.   Just over 14% said they had changed – and they were lower.   Another 8.2% said their fees were lower – but only because of the market’s impact on asset values.   And the remaining 4.1% ?   Said their fees have changed – and had moved higher.

It's hard to ignore the 25.8% who said they weren't sure about those fees - and the remaining 5.2% opted for "other", generally because their fees had changed, but for "unusual" reasons, including these:

"We just changed plans and were able to get (much) lower fees but we will see how long they stay that way. However, I am not adverse to doing a search if needed!"

"As a recordkeeper, we are continually adjusting fees to 1) stay competitive in the market and 2) reflect efficiencies gained from internal process improvements. However, I don't know what the fee impact has been on our own plan!"

"They are the same, but the record keeper informs us that we will start being charged fees the beginning of the new year. Our plan assets have increased from a year ago, but are down from two years ago.

So we will be charged additional from what they make off from our funds now. I feel like they should cut us some slack. It is not our fault that the market is down. And they made plenty of money off from us when the market was up."

"We just signed a 5 yr agreement essentially locking in the given fee."

"Our plan fees were eliminated over a year ago so they really can't get any lower than that."

"We had to ask the provider in very strong terms for the lower fees."

"We don't pay a dime in record keeping fees. They make enough money off us with expense ratios."

But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who said, "Yes, lower recordkeeping fees due to a provider switch in 2009. Currently paying less and getting more - can't beat that!"

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!