10 Ways Your 401(k) Can Fail You
2. Limited offerings
In years past, "the more the merrier" was the approach taken to investment options in a 401(k) plan. It wouldn't be uncommon to have 30 to 40 funds to choose from.
Today, "less is more" is the strategy, with a smaller, less confusing array of investment options to choose from and target date funds intended as a no-fuss way to get started.
The problem is that your workplace plan may not keep pace as you get more financially savvy. Major asset classes may be represented, and you likely have small-cap, large-cap, stable value and money market funds to choose from. But if your strategy calls for midcap equities, TIPS, commodities, emerging markets or REITs, you may find the rather generic menu options unsatisfactory.
3. Poor communication
Back in the dire days of the Great Recession, many couldn't bear seeing their retirement savings plummet. They just stopped opening their statements.
That ostrich-worthy strategy can be disastrous; you can't fix a problem -- or change course -- when you don't even know how bad things are and why.
Which raises a potential problem you may not even be aware of. Do you get your quarterly statements in a timely fashion? Are they issued reliably and arrive like clockwork when you expect them?
Today's volatile markets mean that decisions often need to be made quickly (although certainly not by headline-chasing, we hope). It's crucial for you to keep constant tabs on your 401(k)'s performance and how its investments fare. You also need to make sure your employer is transmitting retirement contributions accurately and in a timely fashion.
The erratic delivery of your 401(k) statements, even if the data are available online, may be a red flag.
4. Reliance on employers
Even the most savvy self-starters can need to rely on their employer for financial needs that go beyond a paycheck.