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SEC Considers Interactive 401(k)s

May 11, 2007

The Securities and Exchange Commission is examining disclosures for 401(k) plans and is looking at ways to provide such information using interactive software, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox told the mutual fund industry on Thursday, May 10.

“We’re interested in both the disclosures of the constituent investments in the 401(k) and the aggregate disclosures by the plan,” including overall expenses and performance of investments in the accounts, Cox told the 1,200 members of the fund industry gathered in Washington for the 49th general membership meeting of the Investment Company Institute.

Disclosures concerning 401(k) plans currently range widely from full prospectuses and shareholder reports to “one-page charts that contain extremely limited information,” Cox said.

The SEC is working with the Department of Labor on the project.

The SEC wants to make it easier for 401(k) participants to understand expenses as well as the after-tax, after-inflation returns that they are getting, compared to appropriate benchmark, Cox said.

“We’re confident that we can achieve a great deal in the coming months,” Cox said in his speech, in which he encouraged the mutual fund industry to voluntarily file fund information using interactive Extensible Business Reporting Language software that allows easy comparisons for fund data.

In addition to using “XBRL” software for mutual fund disclosures, Cox said, “there will be a significant future role for interactive data” for 401(k) information.

Filed by Sara Hansard of Investment News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.