In early February the DOL announced the guidelines for its newfee disclosure rule. Sadly, the DOL (again) pushed back theimplementation date three months to July 1. It's sad for tworeasons. First, it only delays the inevitable and perhaps hurtsinvestors. Second, it now precludes the delicious irony of exposingonce hidden fees on April Fools' Day and, given theconflict-of-interest ramifications of revenue sharing, theopportunity to mention “a fool and his money are soon parted.”

Fiduciary proponents no doubt delighted in the forthrightaggressiveness of the DOL's promotion of these new guidelines. Itssimple rule to 401(k) plan sponsors should they find a serviceprovider fails to properly comply with the new rule: Fire them. Itwasn't a suggestion; it was an order. This may place some vendorsbetween a rock and a hard place. By showing 401(k) plan sponsorsthey were saving pennies while losing dollars, it may discouragethose 401(k) plan sponsors from selling their soul for one-stopshopping.

Which vendors lay destined to soon fall within the crosshairs ofthe ire of 401(k) plan sponsors? A regulator once told me, when hefirst arrived at his job, he laughed at industry pros who told himmany 401(k) investors thought they could get something for nothing.He now realizes too many believe they are getting their 401(k) forfree. The new fee disclosure rule will expose this fallacy.Quickly. And disturbingly so for naïve plan sponsors. No longerwill vendors be able to hide fees with 12b-1 payments or revenuesharing. Those who touted “low” fees as a result of these hiddenfees must now fess up.

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal FiduciaryNews.com and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christophercarosa/)and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ChrisCarosa).