Investigation of Fees Charged To Employees/Participants By Retirement Plans

Status Investigation

Practice area Employee Benefits / ERISA


Summary of the Investigation

Cohen Milstein is investigating the fees and expenses associated with retirement plans (such as 401k plans).  Fees and expenses can substantially reduce the growth of an employee’s retirement account.  Plan fiduciaries (i.e. those operating the plan) have a duty to establish, implement, and follow procedures to prudently determine the reasonableness of fees and may be responsible for losses to the plan caused by excessive plan fees.  Until recently, it has been difficult for employees (even aided by professional advisors) to decipher the fees associated with their retirement plans and to determine whether fees are paid, by whom, or how (e.g., by the employer, from a plan forfeiture account, from revenue sharing proceeds or directly from employees’ accounts).

New regulations by the Department of Labor require most defined contribution plans (such as 401k plans) to provide annual fee disclosures with substantially more clarity to participants by August 30, 2012, and quarterly fee disclosures by November 14, 2012.  These disclosures should detail (among other things) the fees and expenses for general plan administrative services (e.g., accounting, recordkeeping, or legal fees) charged to participant accounts, as well as the fees and expenses that may be incurred by participants and charged directly to their accounts (e.g. a fee for a plan loan, QDRO determination, or brokerage window).  These disclosures will also detail certain investment-related information for plan investment alternatives that do not offer fixed returns, including (among other things) the amount and a description of each shareholder-type fee (e.g., fees charged directly against a participant’s investment, such as commissions) and the total annual operating expenses of the investment.

What Information Do We Need From You

We will want to obtain some information in order to investigate your claim, including participant statements showing investment-related information for each of the plan’s designated investment alternatives; participant statements showing the dollar amount of the administrative and individual expenses actually charged to your account and describing the services for which those expenses were incurred;the plan document for your retirement plan; and the summary plan description for your retirement plan.

If you do not have copies of these documents, we can assist you in making a request for copies.  There is no charge to you for us to assist you in making this request or for us to evaluate your case.

Whom to Contact for More Information

If, upon review of your plan’s fee disclosure, you are concerned about the fees and expenses associated with your retirement plan or if you do not receive such disclosures, you may want to contact one of the following persons:

Daniel R. Sutter, Esq.
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
1100 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20005
Telephone: 888-240-0775 or 202-408-4600