Over Half of Americans Surveyed Falsely Believe They Pay Low or No Fees to Manage their Retirement Accounts

National poll reveals widespread lack of knowledge regarding hidden fees required to maintain retirement accounts including 401(k) accounts

Bethesda, MD & Palo Alto, CA – MARCH 9, 2021 – Nearly three quarters of Americans surveyed do not know how much they are required to pay in fees to manage their retirement accounts, according to a recent survey commissioned by investment management firm Rebalance.

Over half of Americans surveyed (57%) falsely believe that they pay either no fees, or very low fees, to maintain their retirement investment accounts. In addition, nearly one-quarter don’t even know how much they pay in fees.

In actuality, everyone with a retirement account, such as a 401(k) or IRA, pays fees. According to the 21st edition of the 401k Averages Book, the average employee working for a small business pays 2.22% per year in plan costs.

Additional Survey Findings:

  • Impact of COVID-19: Survey findings also indicate that COVID-19 has had an effect on retirement savings, as 66% of those surveyed have changed their approach to retirement investing as a result of COVID-19, with 62% saving more for retirement as a result of COVID-19.
  • Lack of Knowledge: Lack of knowledge about how their money is invested within their retirement account is another common theme, with 51% of those surveyed unsure of the breakdown of their investments between stocks and bonds.
  • Investment Anxiety: Americans feeling anxious about their ability to afford a comfortable retirement. If they were able to go back in time, 84% would want to learn more about investing earlier in life, while 89% would want to invest more in retirement accounts earlier in life.

“As we have heard from our small business owner clients for some time now—and these survey results show—there is a worrisome trend in the financial services industry of investment professionals charging outsized fees,” said Scott Puritz, Managing Director of Rebalance. “Unfortunately, many hard-working Americans are not seeing the expected returns on their investments due to high fees associated with their 401(k) retirement savings.”

Survey Methodology

This online survey of 1,016 U.S. adults, age 45-75 and working full time, was commissioned by Rebalance and conducted by SurveyMonkey between February 3-6, 2021. The survey has a 3.17% margin of error and a 95% confidence level. All data is self-reported by study participants and is not verified or validated. Detailed findings are available by request.

About Rebalance 

Rebalance is a mission-driven, award-winning investment firm committed to offering premium, fiduciary wealth management services to everyday investors. The firm is at the forefront of providing consumers with a fundamentally different and better set of investment options: lower costs, endowment-quality globally diversified investment portfolios, and systematic rebalancing.

The Rebalance Investment Committee is anchored by three of the most respected experts in the finance world: Burt Malkiel, the world-renowned Senior Economist at Princeton University and author of “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”; Dr. Charley Ellis, the former longtime chairman of the Yale University Endowment; and Jay Vivian, the former Managing Director of IBM’s $100+ billion in retirement investment funds for more than 300,000 employees worldwide.

Rebalance is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA and Bethesda, MD and currently manages more than 600 clients with over $1 billion in financial assets. In 2018, Rebalance was honored by Schwab’s 2018 Pacesetter IMPACT Award™ for Innovation and Growth.