Ted Benna immediately knew he had discovered something of valuewhen he finished reviewing the IRS regulations that fateful weekendin 1980. And, although the client he was doing the analysis forrejected the idea, his own firm, The Johnson Companies, didn't andthe first 401(k) savings plan with matching employer contributionsand employee deferrals became effective January 1, 1981.

Thus began one of the greatest real-life “they laughed when Isat down at the piano” moments. And like the famous andoft-repeated 1926 ad by John Caples, the concept of the 401(k) not only had staying power, but it hasproven to be quite successful in its intended purpose. How strongis the concept? Benna's simple idea has been repeated 640,000 timessince he convinced his company to start the first 401(k) plan. Howsuccessful is the concept? The 401(k) has allowed 60 millionemployees to accumulate more than $7.8 trillion in assets.

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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).