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PRC Letter to the Editor on electronic disclosure (06/06/2012)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On June 3, the New York Times published a column about the Labor Department's new regulations that require 401(k) providers to disclose how much they charge in fees. Below is a letter that the Center sent to the New York Times in response to the article:

To the Editor,

In addition to telling people how much they’re paying in fees for their 401(k) accounts (“The Curtain Opens on 401(k) Fees,” June 3), it’s vital that people actually receive that information.

The financial services industry is currently waging an all-out lobbying effort to make electronic disclosure the default method for 401(k) fee information. They contend that if companies decide that workers and retirees have the “effective ability to access” the fee information on a website, smartphone or grandchild’s computer, the information should automatically be provided to them electronically. This ignores the fact that millions of older Americans, lower-income workers, and people of color do not regularly use computers and are not comfortable receiving personal financial information electronically.

Given the financial industry’s earlier unsuccessful campaign to avoid full disclosure of its fees, one has to wonder if this push for electronic disclosure isn’t yet another attempt to hide the facts.

Karen D. Friedman
Executive Vice President and Policy Director
Pension Rights Center

For more information on the Center's position on electronic disclosure, read the letter and memorandum that PRC and several other organizations sent to the Labor Department in April.