Defined contribution plans used to be fairly low maintenance. A plan sponsor could pick a recordkeeper, create a menu of investing options, and leave the rest to plan participants. 

But times have changed. Once largely a supplemental program for top-earning executives, 401(k) plans are now the primary retirement savings vehicle for the majority of American workers. It's estimated that some 69 percent of current employees will depend entirely on their 401(k) – plus Social Security – for retirement. Unfortunately, many participants don't save enough, others don't save at all, and many who have saved have inappropriate asset allocations. 

At the same time as their role has grown, many DC plans have found themselves facing growing legal and fiduciary hurdles. For several years, plaintiffs' lawyers have targeted DC sponsors for issues including administrative fees, share class issues, company stock performance and inappropriate funds on the investment menu. Plus, in 2012 the U.S. Department of Labor issued rules requiring plan sponsors to provide detailed information about fees and expenses. The rules also require sponsors to actively monitor recordkeepers and other providers, and the scope of service providers who are fiduciaries may be expanding. 

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