Stocks Add Some Spice to Plain-Vanilla 401(k) Plans
U.S. News & World Report (08/21/00) Vol. 129, No. 7 p.64; Lim, Paul J.

Southwest Airlines Pilot's Association has started to allow its members to invest some of its 401(k) monies in stocks. In addition to current investments in mutual funds, some pilots are investing as much as half of their retirement funds in the stock market. From large well-known companies like Lucent Technologies, to small, lesser-known risky companies, the flexibility to invest in individual stocks is welcome news to Southwest's employees. Southwest Airlines pilots are just a few of the employees now able to invest in this manner. Benefits consultants agree that this new trend in retirement investing is currently on the rise. However, just because an employee may be given the freedom to "play" with their retirement funds does not mean they should. Many financial planners worry about the fact that this new freedom may prompt employees to overload their portfolio with stocks--paying little attention to risk. Additionally, commissions, costs, and the difficulty of buying and selling small amounts of stock may make it more reasonable for an employee to stick with mutual funds. Nine out of 10 Wall Street players recommend that a person let their money build up in mutual funds before investing in stocks. Employees are urged to keep the majority of their retirement money in diversified funds--allocating a small portion to stocks.


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