The Retirement Gamble: Are 401(k) Fees Fair?

04/23/13 Robert Lorei
Radioactivity: Live Call-In (Tuesday) | Listen to this entire show:


Good morning, welcome to Radioactivity. Tonight on PBS a new documentary looks at how 401(k)s are doing more to enrich Wall Street than workers who are using them to save for retirement.

But first- one listener comment about yesterday’s program—on which we discussed a forum on US Cuba relations that will take place in Tampa tomorrow.

Here’s what one listener had to say:


For most Americans, traditional retirement is now a pipe dream: Six in 10 people believe they'll have to delay retirement, just 14 percent are very confident they'll be able to live comfortably once they stop working, and 17 percent believe they'll never retire at all.

Who is to blame?

The Retirement Gamble, airing tonight on PBS stations around the country- including WEDU in Tampa---looks at how the financial services industry might be draining your retirement savings with every passing year. We're joined now by Martin Smith who is the correspondent on tonight's Frontline program.

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A caller, Daniel I believe, said something along the lines of the embargo of Cuba is somewhat a myth. He stated as evidence of that the fact that he traveled there last year and didn't have to notify the Treasury Department. He himself didn't, i'm sure. But what he most certainly and unfortunately isn't aware of is that the company that sold him his travel packages definitely did need to. That company must have a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control in order to provide him with the ability to travel to the island legally. He may not be aware that he was traveling under the company's license. The embargo is not the travel ban. It is a law, aling with others such as the Toricelli Act and the Helms Burton Act, that prevents trade with Cuba along with many types of financial transactions. That is why he was unable to bring back his rum and cigars. I've traveled to Cuba many times over the last 12 years or so. I first went there with my grandfather and was able to to visit family. During that trip I met my wife and since she's been here, since 2002, we've continued to travel there to visit her family, all of whom live there. The exception being during the years that Bush severely restricted that. During those unfortunate years we had to pay extra to travel under the licence of a church. (And of course we strictly abided by the conditions of the licence just like everyone else who found themselves in the same predicament.) I am totally against every aspect of of our current policy towards Cuba. It has only been an offensive policy and the results of it have served nothing but destructive forces. It is virtually impossible to find anyone on the island who is appreciative if our policies and it is increasingly unpopular here, obviously. Many of the problems facing the Cuban people are directly resulting from our policies. I don't subscribe to the idea that some use as an argument against the policies, that which claims that it is the reason that Castro has retained power. He has been a unique figure in a unique situation. Cubans have an electoral system which is not recognized here and when itvis itvis brushed off as being some sort of system to manipulate perceptions. Is it as democratic as it ciuld be? No. But which country is? The US? It's doubtful. If we analyze how democracies actually are set up in different countries around the world, we'd realize that Cuba's system is just another of many differing political systems. Many of our closest allies in the so called "free world" have political systems very different than ours, and many people don't directly elect the head of state, a common complaint against Cuba's system. Our official narrative about Cuba is quite dishonest and plays against our lack of knowledge of how things are here and around the world. It's equivalent is someone digging a hole in someone's path and after they've fallen in it, the one who dug the hole quickly points out that the person at the bottom of the hole must have made a huge mistake for being there. We like to point out the hardships on the island but we seem all to willing to scratch the surface and relate the shortcomings to our policies. I'm not stating that I think that Castro and the Cuban state is infallible. They themselves havr not made that claim. But there is no shame in admiring what they have tried to achieve and what they really have achieved.

The misrepresentation (salesman-advisor-broker) game along with the less than suitable or appropriate investment choices that result when a salesperson passes themselves off as an investment professional are approaching fraud. Clients should know that they can and should be taking steps to get their money back......many clients are doing exactly this, but it is a closely guarded secret within the investment community: