On a more consequential note, we've been accumulating some 401(k)-related items and plan to unleash a couple of those tomorrow and Friday. Today, we'll kick this little series off by drawing your attention to an enormously important development in the retirement plan marketplace: The upcoming launch of BrightScope.
Basic economics assumes that consumers of goods and services possess a certain level of information. But as we've written repeatedly in this space, 401(k) sponsors and participants have been kept in the dark about their plans' true costs (often far too high) and investment options (often deeply flawed). By providing comprehensive, comparative information on expenses, eligibility, company generosity, investment menus, participation rates, and more, BrightScope changes that game fundamentally. For sponsors, participants, and fiduciary service providers, BrightScope is truly a great leap forward.
Think of BrightScope as an x-ray machine for your retirement plan. If there are problems lurking in there, they're very likely to show up on the results produced by BrightScope. With BrightScope's rock-solid diagnosis in hand, sponsors and participants can get serious about improving their plans, either by working with current service providers or (more often, perhaps, because some of the biggest problems are inherent in current providers' business models) selecting new (fiduciary!) service providers altogether.
Built by a team of blindingly smart, deeply committed fiduciaries, BrightScope is one of those developments where history will mark very clear distinctions between "before" and "after." And the "after," this new era of more transparency in the marketplace, will be a much better place.
Here's a link to BrightScope's blog. Check it out. We'll be writing plenty more about this excellent new resource in the coming weeks and months.