401(k) Plan Administrator Fees

When selecting a 401(k) administrator for your small business, watch out for excessive or hidden fees that can chip away at the overall savings in your retirement plan.

  • Ubiquity has specialized in affordable, flat-fee plans for over 2 decades
  • We never charge AUM fees that penalize your plan for successful growth and cut into your retirement savings.
  • Enjoy the freedom to cover administrative costs yourself, allowing you to reduce your tax liability, earn extra tax credits, and save more for the future.
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Do you know what fees you’re paying?

The Department of Labor breaks down the general categories of 401(k) fees into:

  • Investment Fees

    The cost of portfolio management takes up the lion’s share of the fees involved in running a 401(k). Typically, investors charge a percentage of the total assets in the plan – called an Assets Under Management (AUM) fee. While it may only be 1-3% of the plan assets, it can really erode the savings.

  • Individual Service Fees

    Opt-in fees may be charged for taking out a loan, rolling over 401(k) investments into an IRA, or requesting additional financial advisory services. These charges are paid by individual plan participants, rather than the plan at large.

  • Administrator Fees

    Administration fees cover the cost of setting up the plan, drafting necessary documents, record-keeping, enrolling, accounting, distributing, approving loans, conducting audits, filling out IRS forms, conducting nondiscrimination testing, hosting educational seminars, customer service, and electronic plan access.

How much do administrative fees cost?

Every 401(k) needs a plan administrator to take care of the day-to-day, whether it’s a financial broker or a third-party administrator. There is no general rule governing how an administrator can charge for their services:

  • Some administrators charge like investment brokers by taking a percent of Assets Under Management.
  • Other administrators charge per-person eligible for the plan.
  • Administrators have been known to charge both AUM and per-person fees.
  • If you’re lucky, you can find an administrator with one low, transparent monthly fee.

A median salary worker who pays just 1% in total plan assets starting at age 25 could end up paying $138,336 in AUM fees over their lifetime, according to the Center for American Progress. The amount paid by high-income earners is even higher.

Anything greater than 1% is traditionally considered exorbitant, but AUM fees can range as high as 5%. For this reason, many employers are keeping expenses down by shifting to low-cost passively-managed funds and seeking out administrators who do not charge AUM fees.

Who pays 401(k) administrator fees?

Employers can choose to pay the administrative fees themselves, shift the burden to plan participants, or share the costs.

Typically, employers pay for administrative, fiduciary, and consulting fees, whereas investment fees are often shouldered by the employees out of their plan assets.

It’s important for plan sponsors to consider their choice of 401(k) provider carefully, as many force sponsors to pay a portion of their 401(k) administrative fees out of plan assets by limiting investment options to funds with hidden revenue sharing and non-transparent pricing.

What is the benefit of employers covering all administrative fees?

Business owners who pay the admin fees themselves benefit by:

Reducing fiduciary liability

No employer wants to be sued for failing to act in the best interest of the 401(k) plan participants. By covering administrative fees from a corporate bank account, rather than plan assets, any potential liability for overpayment is negated.

Lowering income taxes

Any administration fees paid by the business are considered tax-deductible. New 401(k) plans may qualify for a 50% annual tax credit up to $5000 for the first three years of the plan. Sponsors qualify if they have:

  • 100 or fewer employees receiving at least $5,000 in compensation last year
  • At least one plan participant is defined as a non-Highly Compensated Employee
  • It has been more than three years since the business covered employees under a different retirement plan

By contrast, fees paid out of plan assets are NON-TAX-DEDUCTIBLE.

Boosting personal returns

The business owner typically has the largest account balance and therefore pays the biggest chunk of administration fees. While a person with $100,000 invested may pay $1,000 in fees, the head honcho making $600,000 will be responsible for $6,000 in fees. Over time, this can really put a dent in one’s retirement nest egg. Keeping that $6,000 in the account instead allows it to grow to approximately $50,000 over 30 years (assuming a 7% annual interest rate, compounding daily).

Improving plan attractiveness

By covering the cost of administrator fees, employers make their retirement savings plans more attractive to current and prospective employees. Providing a lucrative, low-cost 401(k) can go a long way towards attracting the best talent in your industry, reducing staff turnover, and creating a positive and productive work environment.

Ready to get started?

If you are a small business owner and need a retirement plan for yourself and your company, only Ubiquity offers flat-fee plans, plus expert guidance along the way.

We will fully customize your plan to meet the specific needs of your small business.

All the service, without all the fees!

Looking to offer your employees the best benefits plan in a way that fits your budge? Ubiquity is happy to provide all the 401(k) information you’ll need to make an informed choice about which provider is right for you. Reach out to learn more about our 401(k) plans starting as low as $97/month.

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© 2023 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings
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Do not sell my info
44 Montgomery Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94104
Support: 855.401.4357

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© 2023 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings
Privacy Policy
Do not sell my info
44 Montgomery Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94104
Support: 855.401.4357

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