Best Buy’s 401(k) Meltdown

No matter how loyal you are to you employer and no matter how well your company stock has performed in the past do not put all your ‘eggs’ in one basket. No one can predict the future and the unexpected can happen at anytime. If something happens to your employer and most or all your retirement account is in the company stock, you would not only lose your job bit also your retirement account. Don’t do it.

1903 stock certificate of the Baltimore and Oh...
1903 stock certificate of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As hard as times are for investors in Best Buy’s shares, far grimmer is the plight of the 110,000 employees participating in the company’s approximately $1 billion 401(k) plan.  Not only do they have to worry about possibly losing their jobs if the company can’t right itself, their so-called retirement plan is heavily invested (17%) in company stock. Assuming the company stock in the plan has lost half its value this year, employee retirement assets have likely taken a near 9% hit. Average account balances of around $9,000 have plummeted to around $8,000, it seems. With nest eggs this puny, they’ll be lucky to spend their golden years eating at the Golden Arches.To add insult to injury, Best Buy’s 401(k) participants have been paying over a million a year to financial advisors involved in the design and administration of an optimal retirement plan for them—firms such as Aon Hewitt and JP Morgan. Clearly, it was foreseeable to these professionals, as well as the company sponsor, that a heavy concentration of plan assets invested in company stock could be disastrous. Nevertheless, the decision was made to offer company stock as an investment option in the define contribution plan and the percentage allocated to it, not surprising, mushroomed to imprudent levels.

Many companies allow their employees to pay for the administration of their 401(k) plan. When fee disclosure becomes more publicly known, employees will begin asking questions. One question might be “if you the employer does not pay any of the expenses is this really an employee benefit?’

Please comment or call to discuss how this affect you and your company.

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