401(k) Plan Fees: Can Benchmarking Determine Value and Reasonableness?
Guest: Tom Kmak
It should be no surprise that 401(k) plan fees have been the hot topic of discussion amongst both plan sponsors and the industry. With fee disclosure regulations, a growing number of lawsuits and the press all swirling around the issue the need for plan fiduciaries to have a process to both understand and evaluate plan fees for reasonableness has never been more important. My guest, Tom Kmak, the CEO and co-founder of the firm Fiduciary Benchmarks which provides independent, comprehensive and informative fee benchmarking services is in a unique position in this conversation, over the past 9 years they have evaluated and benchmarked the fees of over 80,000 retirement plans. During our conversation, Tom specifically shares his experience and perspective on how to create a meaningful fee benchmarking process. As a 30 year industry veteran, he also shares great stories, analogies and opinions to help employers understand and process some of the more controversial and complex topics around 401(k) plan fees. Be sure to listen for his thoughts on flat dollar participant fees, why the DOL did not use the word “lower” in their recent fee disclosure regulations and much more!
CEO and co-founder of Fiduciary Benchmarks, 2007 to current. Fiduciary Benchmarks (FBi) is a premier and patented benchmarking service (U.S. Patent 8,510,198) for defined contribution plans that uses various mathematical models to help fiduciaries determine whether the fees they are paying to their service providers are reasonable in light of the value being received. Through their construction and presentation, FBi reports give plan decision makers the context necessary to improve decisions and positively affect the measures of long-term plan success. FBi reports are available primarily through advisor/consultants, recordkeepers, TPAs and other plan service providers.
Prior to founding FBi, Tom Started the JPMorgan Retirement Plan Services business in 1990 with American Century. Upon leaving in October 2007, that business employed 1,100 people serving 200 large plan sponsors with over 1.5 million participants and more than $115 billion in assets.
During his 18 years with Retirement Plan Services, the company initiated numerous industry firsts including no blackout conversions and the innovative employee education program, Audience of One. Tom also served on the Executive Committee for JPMorgan’s asset management business.
Named by Ingram’s magazine as one of Kansas City’s inaugural class of “Forty most influential people under Forty,” Tom is a recognized expert in the retirement services industry who has been a featured speaker at various conferences and has published articles in some of the most well-known periodicals in the industry.
Graduated Phi Beta Kappa from DePauw University with B.A. degrees in Economics and Computational Mathematics. He is also the first graduate of the Management Fellows Program and 3 year letterman in inter-collegiate basketball.