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401k Self-Directed Brokage Accounts

for 401(k) Easy run-it-yourself 401k plans



View a listing of self-directed brokerage accounts currently available for use with 401(k) Easy


401k self-directed brokerage accounts mean unparalleled choice


Select 401k self-directed brokerage accounts OR self-directed brokerage accounts PLUS a family of no-load mutual funds


It's easy to get investment performance information


A few comments about risk, return and investing


A few comments about trading mutual funds frequently


A word about mutual fund expense fees

401k Brokerage Accounts

[topic 1]

401k Self-Directed Brokerage Accounts Mean Unparalleled Choice

You can provide each of your employees who chooses to participate in your 401k plan with a personal, self-directed brokerage account through such firms as Charles Schwab, Cigna Financial or Fidelity Investments.

-- With individual self-directed brokerage accounts, each employee PERSONALLY directs the investment of contributions made in his or her 401k account among the brokerage's population of NO TRANSACTION FEE mutual funds or commissionable stocks and bonds.  The employee is responsible for any annual account fees plus all stock or bond transaction fees.  All fees are deducted from the participant's 401k account by the brokerage.

-- Your employees have access to investments from multiple foundries with self-directed brokerage accounts, not just investments of the brokerage company. For example, with a Charles Schwab account your employees have access to hundreds no-load mutual funds in addition to Schwab's proprietary family of funds.

-- With 401(k) Easy and self-directed brokerage accounts, your company saves money by processing its 401k data in-house, while your employees enjoy investment flexibility not even found in most of today's highest-priced 401k plans.

-- 401k self-directed brokerage accounts are well-suited to Internet-savvy, investment-savvy people.

-- Your company pays no more for using self-directed brokerage accounts with 401(k) Easy than for using a family of no-load mutual fund investments — and can even opt to offer both — at no extra charge.

-- To choose a brokerage offering self-directed brokerage accounts for your 401(k) Easy plan, view our Listing of Self-Directed Brokerage Accounts and contact each that interests you to find out about their particular policies and practices. Feel free to contact us if you need assistance.

[topic 2]

Select 401k Self-Directed Brokerage Accounts OR Self-Directed Brokerage Accounts PLUS a Family of No-Load Mutual Funds

401k self-directed brokerage accounts offer the investor an enormous array of choices. Some employees, however, may be intimidated by what they see as too many investments to choose from. If the majority of your employees would be uncomfortable with the multitude of investment options available with self-directed brokerage accounts, selecting a single family of mutual funds for your plan will likely be a more popular choice. If SOME of your employees would prefer self-directed brokerage accounts, remember...

-- Your company can offer BOTH self-directed brokerage accounts AND a family of no-load mutual funds with 401(k) Easy — for no extra charge!

-- Each employee then has the option of opening a self-directed brokerage account or investing in the traditional way in any of the selected family's no-load mutual funds.

-- Visit our No-Load Mutual Funds page for information about offering a family of no-load mutual funds in your 401k plan and for access to specific listings of potential no-load mutual fund families.

[topic 3]

It's Easy to Get Investment Performance Information

Performance information adds to your knowledge about an investment gained from reading the investment's prospectus. The most common ways to get specific investment performance information are:

-- Contact the investment company directly.

-- Utilize free online mutual fund and other investment rating services. A web search for "investment ratings" will bring up dozens of independent, consumer-oriented mutual fund rating services. Morningstar (www.morningstar.com), Standard & Poor (www.ratings.standardpoor.com), Value Line (www.valueline.com), Mutual Fund Investor's Center (www.mfea.com), and Smart Money (www.smartmoney.com) are some of the most popular sources for independent, unbiased ratings and comparisons; they have solid reputations, but they're by no means the only reliable services.

-- Utilize your favorite web browser or search engine. All have quick access to mutual fund information. Please refer to your particular browser/search engine for details.

Keep in mind...

-- Most rating services charge for certain types of performance information.

-- Performance information received from mutual fund companies is generally free.

[topic 4]

A Few Comments About Risk, Return and Investing

Investing is a risk-return dichotomy. Mutual fund money market investments are considered very safe, and offer a relatively low, predictable rate of return, although that return, like any, cannot be guaranteed. At the other end of the risk-return dichotomy are mutual funds that can be extremely violate, offering investors the possibility of dramatic gains (and losses).  Mutual fund investments can lose value in a volatile market -- just as they can gain value.

-- Shares of mutual funds are not deposits of or guaranteed or endorsed by, any financial institution; they are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Federal Reserve Board, or any other agency, and they involve risk, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested.

-- In general, the more volatile an investment (i.e., the less predictable its rate of return), the more POTENTIALLY lucrative its earnings. More volatile investments are considered to be more risky investments.

-- The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate. An investor's shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than when purchased.

[topic 5]

A Few Comments About Trading Mutual Funds Frequently

According to the Investment Company Institute, the mutual fund industry's trade association, for the twelve months from July 30, 1999 to July 30, 2000, approximately 42% of assets in the average stock mutual fund were bought or sold, meaning only a bit more than half the money in the fund actually stayed put for that period. That is up from approximately 40% turnover for the 12 months prior. Some retirement plan experts believe some of this fast trading is occurring in 401k plans.

-- According to most academic studies, frequent trading of mutual funds to squeeze out a few percentage points of gain a bad idea. Studies confirm what has been suspected by professional money managers for years — namely, frequent mutual fund trading usually hurts long-term returns.

-- As reported in the Wall Street Journal (9/22/00, Lucchetti, Aaron, "Frequent Trading Worries Fund Firms"), a recent study by University of California, Davis assistant professor Terrance Odean and professor Brad Barber found that investors who traded mutual funds most frequently had the worst returns for a five-and-a-half year period ending December 1996.

-- During that period the average household earned an annualized return of approximately 15.3% from their mutual fund investments. Frequent mutual fund traders earned an average annualized return of only 10% for the same period.

With 401(k) Easy you can discourage frequent trading by limiting your 401k investment selection to a single family of no-load mutual funds, because with such a designation your plan participants will need to submit an updated 401k Enrollment Form to change investment designations.

-- By offering a single family of no-load mutual funds PLUS self-directed brokerage accounts, which is also an option with 401(k) Easy, you leave the door open for more sophisticated investors to choose self-directed brokerage accounts and thus trade stocks, bonds and mutual funds whenever they see fit without needing to file any 401k Enrollment Form revisions while steering less sophisticated investors to the less intimidating, less complicated world of a single family of quality no-load mutual funds.

[topic 6]

Mutual Fund Expense Fees

All "load" and "no load" mutual fund investments, whether accessed via self-directed brokerage accounts or more traditional channels, charge investors annual management fees to cover the operating expenses such expenses as auditing, record keeping, administration, mailing of statements, advertising, providing telephone support, investment managers salaries, commissions to brokers, etc. Typically these management fees, which are automatically deducted from each investors account, range from a low of 1/2 percent to a high of 2 percent annually.

-- Some investors have the misconception that management fees are set and regulated by the federal government, and that one company's fees are like another's. In fact, management fees are set independently by each mutual fund or other investment company. The impact of derivations in fees can be quite significant over time and should therefore be considered carefully.

-- For example, assume a 10 percent return on an initial investment of $25,000. A mutual fund with an annual management fee of 1.3 percent will yield $31,700 LESS over 20 years than a mutual fund with a management fee of just 0.2 percent, all other things being equal. That's a lot of foregone retirement savings!

Information concerning a fund's management fees is always available by contacting the fund company or referring to the fund's investment prospectus.

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