Butterfly emerging chrysalis Aswe move from an employer-centric retirement plan to anemployee-centric retirement plan, the entire concept of retirementsavings will evolve. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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“Tomorrow when I wake or think I do, what shall I say oftoday? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fallof night, I waited for Godot?”

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So says Vladimir in Samuel Beckett's acclaimed existentialmasterpiece “Waiting for Godot.” Like Estragon and Vladimir, wehave waited. In our case, we call Godot the 401(k) MEP.

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The 401(k) MEP creates three significant opportunities foremployers, employees and retirement plan service providers.Together, these opportunities will forever change the retirement planindustry.

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Related: Open MEPs could affect millions of retirement planparticipants overnigh

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA, ischief  contributing editor for FiduciaryNews.com,a leading provider of essential news and information, bluntcommentary and practical examples for ERISA / 401(k) fiduciaries,individual trustees and professional fiduciaries.

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For employers, the 401(k) MEP alleviates a burden that has grownover time as the 401(k) benefit became more popular. Once Ted Bennashowed us the way to the 401(k), the defined contribution plan became the standard.Employers retained primary responsibility for plan administrationand execution, just like with defined benefit plans. The definedcontribution plan itself became decentralized. With the promisedsafe harbors, this seemed like a good idea for employers. Employersviewed the retirement plan as nothing more than a sideline, ahobby.

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It's since been learned this decentralization only increasedfiduciary liability for the sponsoring company. To alleviate this,employers have had to devote more time and resources to cover thisliability, time and resources that would otherwise be devoted torunning the business. The hobby was becoming the tail that waggedthe dog.

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The 401(k) MEP permits employers to turn over the keys to aqualified expert. And with those keys goes most—if not all—of theinherent fiduciary liability. That helps the employer,the employee and the customers.

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The 401(k) MEP offers employees something more than merely beingin a position to reap the benefits of working for a more profitableemployer. The employee will no longer have to rely on a part-time,non-expert plan sponsor (the employer) to administer theirretirement savings. Their retirement will now be overseen byexperienced experts whose only job is to make sure they have thebest retirement plan possible. Also, 401(k) MEPs can produceeconomies of scale that reduce the plan costs.

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As we move from an employer-centric retirement plan to anemployee-centric retirement plan, the entire concept of retirementsavings will evolve. With the 401(k) MEP, if you like yourretirement plan, you can keep it—even when you changeemployers.

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This is the real game-changer that comes with the 401(k) MEP. Inthe future, retirement plans can become individual, rather thancorporate. As an employee, your retirement savings vehicle will be“plug-compatible” with whichever employer you happen to be workingfor.

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In a gig-based economy where millennials job hopevery few years, this means retirement saving will become easier,cheaper and more reliable.

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Need to brush up on MEPs? Browse ourlibrary: 

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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).