Without Employee Knowledge, 401(k) Plans Don't Work
Employee Benefit News (12/02) Vol. 16, No. 15 p.42; Ackley, Dennis

A good plan, employee contributions, and employee knowledge are the cornerstones necessary to building an adequate 401(k) retirement plan. Despite this fact, one survey finds that over 50 percent of employees over the age of 64 with 401(k) retirement plans are unable to answer simple questions about their plans. Even though plan sponsors tout the need for employee education, most plans lack any way of measuring whether employees are receiving adequate knowledge about their retirement plans, and ERISA does not provide any regulations to ensure the responsible education of plan participants. In order to ensure that plan participants have the knowledge they need to manage their 401(k) plans, plan sponsors must require some kind of proof of accomplishment from retirement education providers. Sponsors should inquire about the methods used by education providers, and whether they are teaching participants how to correctly estimate, contribute, and invest in order to reach their retirement income goals. Testing employees is the only way to determine whether they have adequate knowledge to make informed decisions about their 401(k) retirement plans. Rather than just telling employees how to manage their plans, companies must teach, motivate, and inspire employees to aggressively plan for their own futures.

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