Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Plain English" in 408(b)-2 disclosures, hah, I've got a bridge I can sell you too!!!!

Every once in a while, someone else does my job for me.  In this case, I'll give the credit to the Wall Street Journal for saying in writing what many of us have been saying in person for quite some time now.  The attached article highlights a problem with the recent 408(b)-2 disclosures mandated to be distributed to Plan Sponsors (employers) earlier this year.

The gist of the article is this.  Many of the industry service providers weren't explicitedly clear in the way they disclosed their fees on the mandated 408(b)-2 disclosures despite that the rules have been very clear that they are to be written in "Plain English".  What a Shock!!! 

The article points towards Wall Street for burying the Plan Sponsors under a mountain of fine print, which is more of the same from what they've always done as the provider referenced in the article estutely points out.  However, to be fair, this wasn't really Wall Street as a whole.  There's probably less than 100 major retirement plan service providers out there and most are insurance companies, mutual fund companies or independent recordkeepers.  Let's keep the blame pointed squarely where it belongs. 

To expect an industry comprised of asset gatherers to be forthright in telling their clients they've been overcharging them for years unapologetically would be counterproductive to their goal, gathering assets.  It is very unsurprising to this author, that vendors are doing as little as possible to make fee clarity just that, clear. 

Kudos for WSJ for writing what a lot of us have been thinking.

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