We've heard it all ad nauseum. How many have cited thisquotation from the Department of Labor: A “1 percent differencein fees and expenses would reduce your account balance atretirement by 28 percent”? How many financial advisors misquote acontroversial 20-year-old study and say “asset allocation accountsfor 92 percent of a portfolio's investment return?” Barely a daygoes by without some investment blogger or product salesman usingone or both of these pitches.

Would you be surprised to discover these bromides are nothingmore than urban legend? 

An August study from the Wharton School at the University ofPennsylvania turns the 401(k) universe on its head by showing—whilefees and asset allocation do have a nominal influence in achievinginvestors' retirement goals—often overlooked factors have greaterprimacy. Astute financial advisors have long known of theseimportant ingredients: investing early, investing more and retiringlater.

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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).