Looking across the Web sites of 15 different 529 offerings from a variety of brokerage firms, a new study from Corporate Insight finds that both product pricing and information is difficult to find and nearly impossible to compare. Some sites had out-of-date information and even customer service representatives who didn't acknowledge the existence of a 529 plan.
The research also found that, despite the fact that many people in the industry are pressing greater transparency, 529 plans are doing just the opposite.
"The 529 plan marketplace has changed dramatically since its inception in 2001 due to a variety of factors including uncertainty about long term viability, limited interest from corporations, and most importantly, performance", said Michael Ellison, EVP at Corporate Insight. "Some of the brokerage firms we follow now have over 25 different plan options and counting the number of investment managers and options was a challenge, even for us. We can't imagine how an investor can make sense of all of the information required to making an intelligent decision on comparing one plan versus another."