This company is great at self promotion. They focus on only one side of the equation and like most financial firms, they are politically funded and so far from objective they are almost useless.
Their data is both stale and highly inaccurate if not completely misleading. If you think paying a dollar for $.50 of value is smarter than paying $2 for $4 of value, then you are in the Brightscope demographic. If you understand that true value is gains minus expenses equals value not just one price vs another price then Brightscope isn't for you. If you think Walmart is a good value and good for our country then you are also a Brightscope .
I wouldn't go so far as to call them a fraud, but I would never let a friend spend a dime on them. I highly recommend people avoid.
As an adviser that manages about 15 401k plans, I can tell you this site is considerably misleading. I am quite sad that they are getting so much press as the Robin Hoods of the 401k industry and they are reporting very misleading data.
Their intention is good but the end message is way off.
1. You only get realistic data if you sign up for and pay for it.
2. There is a huge conflict of interest in what they report and how they make money (the worse the plans look the more money they potentially gain)
3. Much of their data is old and hard to tell how up to date or accurate it is.
When one of my Companies got upset when they saw their fees were reported as high on Bright scopes front page for their company I had to investigate.
1. They were comparing their plan to much larger plans (that makes a big difference in the 401k world)
2. They were adding fees to the equation that were for voluntary options. They admitted they need to find out how to separate those but have yet to address that.
3. You can only see the plans fees in relation to plans of similar size if you pay for their services...about $750 a year from what I could gather.
I'm very sad to see so little oversight of this firm when in this industry there are firms like ours providing great 401ks and working hard to inspire and educate employees how to use them and these guys can just present misleading data and be looked at like the good guys. Their data seems like a simple solution but like any any other situation the simple answer falls way short of providing much true value.
The entire issue and scrutinizing of these plans is leaving out one major factor and that is NET results. They all want to say index funds are the way to go with their low expenses but when you run the net numbers participants make more money with quality institutional class managed funds. Its like telling participants that its smarter to take $2 for giving up $1 than taking $6 for giving up $2. They are only looking at one side of the equation because its easier than explaining the truth.
This is a free site (they do require registration) that rates your company's 401(k) plan. After you sign up, simply type the name of your company into the query box. BrightScope will rate, or rank, your plan as compared to other companies' plans in your industry and to all 401(k) plans across the country.
Information regarding plan participation, plan administrators, fund costs, fund choice quality and much much more. There is even a section that gives advice on how you can make your company's plan better.
In short, this site has a ton of great, free information available on a subject that is generally hard for us common folks to find: what's going on with our 401(k) money!!
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