An Easy Checklist To Monitor Your 401k Fees

The Department of labor wants people to be aware of the cost of their 401(k) since there are many hidden fees that erode the growth of many plans. The primary responsibility of ensuring the fees are reasonable falls on the plan sponsors. Unfortunately many are too busy running their companies to take the time to understand all the charges by the financial services industry.

If you are a plan participant ask your 401(k) plan sponsors to identify those fees that apply to your plan and have he or she enter the corresponding fee.

Administration/Recordkeeping: XX __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Annual Audit: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Back-End Load __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Balance Inquiry: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Brokerage Commission: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Contract Administration Charge: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Contract Termination Charge: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Distribution Expense: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Expense Ratio (Average and range): __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Front-End Load: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Installation Fee: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Investment Transfer Expense: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Loan Maintain /Repay Tracking Fee: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Loan Origination Fee: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Loan Processing Fee: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Management Fee: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Mortality Risk, Admin (M&E Fee): __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Nondiscrimination Testing Expense: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Participant Education Expenses: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Plan Document Letter (Filing Fee): __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Product Termination Fee: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Service Provider Termination Fee: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Signature Ready Form 5500 Fee: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Start-up/Enrollment Expense: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Trustee Services: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
Wrap Fee: __ No __ Yes Fee__________
12b-1 Fees: __ No __ Yes Fee__________

About the author

Michael Chamberlain, CFP®

Hello. My name is Michael Chamberlain CFP®, the principal of Chamberlain Financial Planning and Wealth Management. Our firm is “fee-only” with offices in Sacramento, Campbell and Santa Cruz California. “Serving clients from the mountains to the sea.”

Our mission is to help clients realize their full potential today while planning for an abundant tomorrow through comprehensive financial planning and collaborative decision-making.

As an experienced investment and planning professional, I have had the privilege of being interviewed by and contributing to hundreds of articles in such publications as Money Magazine, Financial Planning Magazine,,, Nerdwallet,, Yahoo Finance and more.

I hope that you spend some time at the FiGuide site and learn more about the financial matters important to you. To learn more about our firm, visit our website or give us a call at 800-347-1340.


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  • You are correct IT SEEMS like a lot. The terms should be spelled out in the paperwork that you first signed. If you do not see it, ask the record keeper to show you where it is in the original paperwork.

    Before you transfer to a payroll service plan think twice or rather 3 times. The payroll service plans that I have seen leave much to be desired.

    Email me and we can have a chat about what you shpould be looking for.

    Thanks Mike

  • I am the plan sponsor for my firm’s 401k plan, and would like to transfer the recordkeeping and funds to my payroll firm. My current recordkeeper wants to charge me $2,000 to terminate their services and provide the new firm with the necessary records. I reviewed the contract I signed 9 years ago and it doesn’t mention any termination fee amount. I think $2,000 is unfair and see this as a punitive fee.
    Isn’t this an excessively high amount? What is the norm?

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