The same shifty revenue sharing practices that have been exposed in the mutual fund industry in recent years are also a big part of the 401(k) sector, according to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It's a perfectly legal way to pay for the cost of maintaining accounts and mailing statements, but the manner in which such payments are disclosed is questionable. In fact, in many cases theses payments are not disclosed at all, the Post-Dispatch indicates. The fund company and the administrative firm know how much money is exchanged, but the employer often does not. And neither does the worker, the one who is ultimately paying.

It's such a problem that the U.S. Department of Labor, which sets the rules for 401(k) plans, is investigating. A working group heard testimony on the subject last year and is expected to recommend some changes in disclosure requirements.

Michael Howard, a vice president at Marshall Ilsley Trust in St. Louis, where just nine months ago brokerage giant Edward Jones paid a $75 million penalty for not disclosing revenue sharing agreements it had with fund companies, welcomes the attention.

"The industry needs to stop following its don't ask, don't tell policy," Howard said. "Revenue sharing isn't bad. It's the manner in which it's used and disclosed that opens it up to abuse."

The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.

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