Rate Your 401(k) Plan


Rate Your 401(k) Plan

See if your company's plan stacks up.

How good is your 401(k) plan? If you're like most workers, you probably don't have a clue. But now there's a free service to help you figure out how your retirement savings plan stacks up.

BrightScope (www.brightscope.com), an independent 401(k) ratings and analytics firm, relies on public documents to grade 401(k) plans based on such things as their administrative costs, investment returns and expenses, and company contributions. It uses the information to come up with a single score between 1 (poor) and 100 (excellent). For example, Google's 401(k) plan scored an 80, based on its low fees, generous company match and great employee-participation rate. But it lost points for its below-average investment menu and the so-so account balances of its workers.

BrightScope has already reviewed more than 4,000 401(k) plans and hopes to rate up to 30,000 plans by the end of the year. If your employer is not one of them, you can get your retirement plan rated free, no matter how small your company is. Just follow the instructions on the site's "plan data vault" for submitting the necessary documents, which are available for all plan participants.

If you don't like what you see, you can engage in some electronic rabble-rousing. E-mail the results to your co-workers and your human-resources department and ask why you don't have a better plan. Chances are your boss will want to ask the same question of your plan provider to make sure your company is getting its money's worth in these tough times.