401(k) Annual Report: Confirmations and Concerns

401(k) Annual Report: Confirmations and Concerns

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So on Friday a memo was delivered to my desk containing my employer’s annual report summary for the 401k plan they administer and that I participate in.

Amongst the legal jargon and gobbledygook, the memo clearly mentions that plan participants are supposed to receive this annual report, well, annually.

Funny, I don’t recall *ever* receiving it and it’s exactly the type of thing that I’d remember… Doesn’t really matter though…

So what I found most interesting are the actual numbers. It lists out the plan expenses, the number of participants, and the plan assets at the start of 2009 and at the end of 2009.

Why it takes over 9 months to report numbers that would have been easy to calculate on January 2 will always be a mystery to me. Again, I digress…

Some of the numbers were higher than I expected. Some were lower. Actually, it was all pretty eye opening. Nothing seemed, well, what I would have guessed.

So I went back and checked out my own personal numbers on January 1, 2009 and on December 31, 2009. The entire company’s net assets increased at roughly the same rate that mine did.

I did a little better. Just a bit, though.

What really blew me away, though, is that my assets alone make up well over ten percent of the total value of the plan’s assets.

While this certainly strokes my own ego some — as it all but verifies my long-standing belief that I’m the biggest contributor in the company — it also causes me a bit of concern because I have zero say in how the plan is administered.

I dunno — with each passing month it (the 401k) seems like a more and more foolish thing to do with my money.

Now, I know that typical employees never have control over their 401k administration unless they’re the CFO or whatever — I totally get that — but I don’t think that most have as large a percentage “in the game” as I do unless they work for a very small company.

According to the memo, there are nearly 700 hundred participants in the plan — it’s not a small operation.

So, with the employer match a thing of the distant past, the inconvenient account administration on the website, and my newly realized frustration over not having any say in what options are offered in our plan (cause, I’m sorry — some of the options we’re offered totally blow and some of the fees are ludicrous too), well, I’m once again considering dropping out all together and doing it my own way…

Not sure if that’s a smarter move or not but I really don’t like having so little, actually, no control over the options of how my money is managed when I (possibly naively) feel like I’ve got enough on the table to, well, be heard.

PIAC Post Extension:
What really shocks me is how little my fellow co-workers must be contributing — if they participate at all — for the numbers to be so out of whack.

While I’m pretty proud of it, I personally don’t think my 401k balance is very high in the grand scheme of things — especially when compared to some other personal finance bloggers out there sharing their numbers.

The fact that my percentage is so high while my balance is so middle-of-the-road, though, I think speaks volumes, you know, when it comes to the generation X and Y workforces’ thoughts on retirement.

We’re not gettin’ social security ever and we’re not saving either…


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