Here’s another great tip from my interview with author Laura Rowley: BrightScope.com. The site ranks 401k plans for some of the country’s biggest employers, from 0 to 100. Is your company listed?
- Home Depot
- Hewlett Packard
- General Electric
- Walt Disney
- Exxon Mobile
- Proctor and Gamble
The ratings consider 200 factors, including total plan cost, company generosity, and investment menu quality. For each of these factors and others (like participation rate, salary deferrals, and average investment) you can see how each plan ranks compared to others. The Google 401k plan, for instance, is in the top 15 percent of plans with the lowest fees, but is in the 35th to 64th percentile for average account balances. Those young computer whizzes are banking on their stock options, apparently. You can also get a report on the fees associated with your 401k when you register for the site.
BrightScope’s goal is “to increase the retirement security of America’s workforce by bringing transparency and efficiency to the 401k plan market,” the site says. BrightScope claims to be “the only 401k analytics firm that is truly independent and does not accept compensation in the form of revenue sharing from mutual fund companies or plan providers.”
So how does the site make money? BrightScope is “aligned with plan sponsors,” which is all the website says about its bottom line. That leaves me slightly suspicions. It seems the site means well, but if the folks behind BrightScope are not willing to explain how it makes money then they are hiding something. You can read more about the company on their About page.
As for the data sources, the site culls 401k info from the Department of Labor, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some mutual fund and investment data come from mutual fund prospectuses, and a few companies provided information.I hope this site is a resource for you!