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MAJORITY OF 401(K) PARTICIPANTS DON'T KNOW THE COST

A California Democrat proposes a bill requiring more complete information on managers' fees.

More than 80 percent of people age 25 and older who participate in 401(k) plans do not know how much they pay in fees and expenses, which can drain thousands of dollars from a worker's retirement savings, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Rep. George Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, seized on the survey by AARP, the advocacy group for seniors, as further evidence that legislation was needed requiring companies that manage 401(k) plans to provide clearer and more complete information on fees.

The California Democrat proposed a bill last week that would mandate such disclosure and require 401(k) plans to include at least one lower-cost, balanced index fund in their investment options.

Plan administrators also would have to disclose all potential conflicts of interest - some of which arise because pension consultants are not required to disclose payments they receive from companies that manage 401(k) plan assets.

In the AARP survey, 83 percent of plan participants age 25 and older said they are not aware of how much they pay in fees and expenses.

Fifty-four percent said they do not feel knowledgeable about the bite that fees can take out of their account balances.

The findings are consistent with earlier research, including a report issued in November by congressional investigators.

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