A recent survey conducted by Rebalance IRA found that 46% of Baby Boomers don't understand that they're paying fees on the investments in their 401k account.
When you dig a bit deeper into the numbers, those that do not understand that they're paying something for their investment accounts are a bit scary. Only 4% of the respondents believe that they're paying more than 2%.
If we're talking about your typical 401k, largely invested in actively managed mutual fund offerings the 4% who believe that they're paying more than 2% are off by about another 2% when you take manager expense ratios and undisclosed trading costs into account.
For the record, these costs along with restrictions on what investments you can own (your investment offerings are generally dictated by the plan) are the main reasons why a rollover of your retirement plan when you leave work is an optimal idea.
The survey goes on to say that the average fees were about 1.5% (that doesn't include undisclosed trading costs which are generally about equal to a funds expense ratio), among smaller plans, the average is 2.5% or has high as 3.86%.
And what about performance? The typical respondent believes that his/her account went up in value by about 5.2%, yet target benchmark indices were up about 9.5% meaning that the average respondent underperformed the market by over 4%. I'm sure that the fees that were paid had something to do with the material underperformance of their investments. And yet, as is often typical, the average respondent said that they were happy with their under performing by about 100%. My sense here is that most Boomers relate returns to bank interest rates and 5.2% certainly sounds good when you compare it to what you earned on a savings account.
The additional feedback from respondents centered on savings rates and other factors. Rebalance IRA found that 28% of respondents aren't actually saving for retirement and 66% said that they are either very anxious or somewhat anxious about their readiness to retire.
Bottom line, most people make (and have continued to make) fundamentally flawed investment and retirement decisions.
Thankfully, the Client's of my firm are NOT among them.