Benefits/ERISA

Law prof plans to release survey of 401(k) fees via Twitter


A Yale law professor has written to about 6,000 employers warning them that he is studying corporate 401(k) plans and is planning to release the results via Twitter.

The study focuses on the financial impact of investment and administrative fees in investment plans, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), Forbes and Investment News (reg. req.) report. The letter by Yale law professor Ian Ayres says he will use a separate hashtag for each company and will also give the findings to newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Investment News obtained three of the letters, which inform the recipients that their fees are too high.

The letters come as several employer plans are facing litigation claiming excessive fees, the Wall Street Journal says. Cigna Corp. and a unit of Prudential Inc. recently agreed to a tentative $35 million settlement with workers and retirees who claimed excessive fees and self-dealing in Cigna’s 401(k) plan. Cigna sold its retirement business to the Prudential company. The companies have said the plan was properly managed.

Ayres is conducting the study with University of Virginia law professor Quinn Curtis. The findings will be released in the spring of 2014, Ayres says.

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