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Financial Planning / Foolish 401(k)s


Subject:  Re: how secure is the money in a 401k? Date:  6/3/2013  7:52 AM
Author:  mjolah Number:  25039 of 25618

There are several things to consider when talking about the safety of your 401K plan/investments. First, and foremost, the assets in your 401k plan are held in a trust - with a trustee, who has a fiduciary obligation to safeguard the assets. The trustee (institutional or individual) is personally liable for breaches of their fiduciary duty - including the duty to safeguard. Now, that manifests itself in a duty to invest the assets with a reliable and trustworthy investment provider, and theoretically, at least, should perform due diligence periodically on the provider's ability to maintain solvency, and ensure a return of the investments/proceeds when necessary. If they don't, well, that would be a breach.

Even if your plan uses Fidelity's trust company as trustee, the trust company is an independent entity from the broker/dealer, investment manager, and distributor that most think of when they say "Fidelity." It is also subject to banking regulators - depending on how it is chartered, which could be state banking regulators, the OCC, and others.

Finally, Fidelity as a custodian of assets in accounts is subject to SEC oversight, and has