Charles Schwab Chief Executive Officer Walter Bettinger on Monday called for a transformation of the 401(k) industry by slashing fees and providing participants with objective and customized advice autonomous from the plan’s consultants.
“It’s finally time to put the interests of the average hard working American first,” Bettinger said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
He calculated that reducing the typical three-quarters of 1 percent to 2 percent fees to one-half of 1 percent by going from actively managed to strictly index funds would mean on average an additional $100,000 to each retiree.
Bettinger said the two-pronged plan would mean more jobs for investment advisors because of the greater demand for more time consuming, individualized financial plans.
Looking at target-date funds, he said they should go away because they allocate investments only on a single factor—age.
“They are better than nothing but not as good as customized advice," he said.
In stressing his preference for index investing, Bettinger said it would help mitigate the risks of market timing. “I personally would never try to time and beat the market. I would have no chance.”
Speaking to the near-term outlook for investments, Bettinger said two-thirds of Schwab’s clients expect a market correction in next 11 months.
He added that most of the firm’s customers are in favor of having the Federal Reserve gradually increase interest rates.
Bettinger called the post-meltdown, near-zero interest rates that the Fed instituted to revive the economy a “drug” the country can’t stay on forever.