Small Business 401k
Small Business 401k

All-Inclusive Pricing


Pricing chart

Affordability, great investment flexibility and ease of use draw people to Small Business 401k. Of these three attractions, affordability often plays the most influential role.

We keep our pricing very simple - not to mention, reasonable - and do not charge extra when clients choose to include or exclude any of our plan design features (see our Plan Design & Order sections). There are only three components to our fee schedule:

A one-time setup fee of $595, which covers customization of your retirement plan and customization of that plan to our online Plan Sponsor and Plan Participant Gateways you and your employees will use to interact with your 401k plan.
The applicable below Annual Fee, which is based upon your plan's size.
A plan conversion fee, if applicable. This fee is generally $500 or less. (Click to jump down to an explanation of the conversion plan fee.)
A $30 per incident charge for 401k loan disbursements, distributions, QDRO's, compliance testing corrections and hardship withdrawals.

Our IRS-approved plan documents allow the employer to set a dollar or percentage amount that is deducted monthly from employee-participants' accounts to help defray Small Business 401k annual fees. The amount deducted is set by the employer, and disclosed to employee-participants.

Plan Size Annual Fee
One-person plan (+ spouse) $495 per year
2-4 eligible employees $695 per year
5-10 eligible employees $895 per year
11-15 eligible employees $995 per year
16-20 eligible employees $1,295 per year
21-25 eligible employees $1,595 per year
26-30 eligible employees $1,795 per year
31-35 eligible employees $1,995 per year
36-40 eligible employees $2,195 per year
41-45 eligible employees $2,395 per year
46-50 eligible employees $2,595 per year
more than 50 eligible employees $2,595 per year + $200 per year per each additional 5 eligible employees
*All new clients are charged a $595 plan set-up fee. This set-up fee is charged one time only, in the first year of service. The pricing above is for the first year of service only. Renewal fees may be adjusted; no set-up fees charged in subsequent years.

401k Comparisons and the True Impact of Hidden 401k Fees Plans

Many 401k plans contain significant hidden fees. This is especially true of 401k plans offered to small companies, where it is easier to hide fees from small business owners, who are busy running their businesses and do not have the time or staff to review all the legal mumbo-jumbo of setting up a new plan or reviewing plan documents.

These hidden fees are being lifted from the back pockets of 401k plan participants. The US Department of Labor is trying to force 401k plan providers (banks, mutual fund companies, insurance companies, brokerages, etc.) to come clean about these hidden fees. But there is significant lobbying power at play to stymie the government's effort to force comprehensive 401k fee disclosure.

Here are the facts:

According to a recent study by the ICI (Investment Company Institute) and Deloitte titled, "Defined Contribution / 401(k) Fee Study". the average 401k plan has hidden fees of 0.72% per year. That may not seem like much, but it costs the average participant about $11,000 in hidden fees for the lifetime of his or her 401k. These fees are extracted directly from the 401k participant's account. In their study, ICI and Deloitte call these hidden fees "all-in" fees. The average hidden "all-in" fee of 0.72% equates to $350 per year, extracted from participants' accounts.

For small 401k plans that cover less than 20 employees and less than $1 million in total assets, the hidden "all-in" fee situation is much worse. For small 401k plan participants, hidden "all-in" fees can jump from 0.79% to a whopping 1.89%, or up to $920 per plan participant per year! For small plan participants, this can mean paying an astounding $28,000 in hidden fees for the lifetime of his or her 401k. See pages 6, 16, 19 and 20 of ICI/ Deloitte report by clicking the report cover. If you are selecting a 401k for your employees, did you know they could be unknowingly losing $350 to $920 a year in hidden fees?

In most 401k plans, large and small, the employer pays the 401k plan's annual record keeping fees. These fees vary; below is a representative sample of annual record keeping fees:

401k fees for a company with 15 employees & $1 million in assets...
 Small Business  401k   ( = $995
 The Online 401k   ( = $1,100
 Wellington 401k   ( = $1,350
 Employee Fiduciary   ( = $1,500
 Sharebuilder 401k   ( = $1,080

...and how prices skyrocket when the "all-in" and hidden fees are disclosed...
 Small Business  401k : $995 + [No hidden "all-in" fees] = $995 per year complete!
 The Online 401k : $1,100 + ["all-in" fee of 0.72% to 1.89% of $1 million] = $8,300 to $20,000 per year
 Wellington 401k : $1,350 + ["all-in" fee of 0.72% to 1.89% of $1 million] = $8,550 to $20,250 per year
 Employee Fiduciary : $1,500 + ["all-in" fee of 0.72% to 1.89% of $1 million] = $8,700 to $20,400 per year
 Sharebuilder 401k : $1,080 + ["all-in" fee of 0.65% of $1 million] = $7,580 per year

So it's not rocket science to understand why many plan providers in the 401k industry are blowing smoke to make any discussion about hidden or "all in" 401k fees confusing and bewildering. There is a great deal of money at stake, and all this smoke clouds the fact that many small employers are unknowingly offering their employees 401k plans laden with hidden fees.

Hidden and "all-in" 401k fees are getting noticed by the news media and the legal profession via class-action law suits, and some 401k plan providers that made fortunes mining hidden fees are now scrambling to cover their tracks. They are generating the kind of PR confusion many of us remember from years past, when major tobacco companies tried to explain to Americans that smoking was not hazardous their health. Many in the 401k industry are launching the same kind of PR assault, confusing and clouding the issue, but what is really at stake is the end of their 401k hidden fee gravy train, pure and simple.

All-inclusive pricing that is based on plan size

As you can see above, the Small Business 401k annual fee is based solely upon plan size, not the plan design options you select for your plan. To repeat, we do not charge extra for including or excluding any of our plan design options (see our Plan Design & Order sections). This flexibility is not industry-standard - particularly regarding investment flexibility. Though we do charge a modest per-incident fee per 401k loan disbursement, distribution, QDRO, compliance test correction or hardship withdrawal taken to cover fees we incur regarding these transactions, we neither charge an industry-standard (ace, annual) fee per outstanding loan, nor do we charge our clients anything in the first place to offer 401k loans (or any other feature) within their Small Business 401k plan.

Apologies for the repetition. We simply want to be clear that the above annual fees really are all-inclusive.

The set-up fee: A one-time charge

One of the great things about Small Business 401k is its adaptability. Our IRS-approved prototype 401k plan includes a host of plan design options, which we detail below, and our online administration and participation systems - your Plan Sponsor Gateway and Plan Participant Gateway - contain further customization flexibility.

The one-time $595 customization fee charged at your plan's outset pays for all this customization. The fee does not vary with plan size and is charged only at your plan's outset, not in subsequent years.
If in subsequent years you decide you want to alter your plan or system design choice, that's no problem. Please see below under Future Changes.
Our staff can help you understand the plan and system design options open to you, so you can make educated decisions as to which are most desirable for your company and the health of its 401k retirement plan.
We code your decisions into the Plan Sponsor Gateway and Plan Participant Gateway that you and your employees will use to interact with your company 401k plan, empowering the system to streamline 401k management and participation and automate many of its functions. Plan administration via Small Business 401k takes most small businesses less than 15 minutes a month - while, as we have said, saving them thousands of dollars a year.

Small Business 401k plan design options include:

Age, length of service, and other 401k plan participation requirements
Automatic 401k enrollment options
Employer matching, profit-sharing and/or qualified non-elective contribution rates, if any
401k vesting schedules for relevant employer contributions
401k loan availability
401k discrimination testing/401k compliance testing options, including options associated with running your 401k plan as a safe harbor 401k plan, if you so choose

Visit our Order & Customization page to view the exact choices currently available under each of these plan design options.

Future Changes - You are never locked into your Small Business 401k plan and/or system design decisions. We have many clients that, for instance, exclude 401k loans in the early years of their plan, then add the option in at a later date.

Know that you can have us modify your plan and system design at any time. We do reserve the right to charge for changes initiated by you that require us to re-customize your 401k online software and/or official 401k documents. The maximum charge for re-customization work is $500 per instance and depends upon the complexity of the changes required; in most cases, the charge is less than $200, if not waived completely.

The set-up fee tax deduction

Under federal regulations, the $595 one-time Small Business 401k set-up fee may be refundable in the form of a federal tax credit. New Small Business 401k plans qualify to receive this federally-mandated dollar-for-dollar refund, but there are some restrictions, so please consult your tax advisor before signing up for Small Business 401k to make sure you qualify.

No trustee fees

Small Business 401k plans are IRS-approved as employer-trusted, which means you never have to hire - and thus never have to pay - any 401k trustees.

Trustee fees in other 401k plans can add up to hundreds of dollars a year.
Trustee fees are yet another thing you save with Small Business 401k.

No hidden fees

Small Business 401k has no hidden fees. As explained above, the only fees we charge are (1) the one-time plan and system setup fee ($595 for all plans) and (2) the annual fee (the one based upon plan size). The only other fees that we would charge and then of course only as applicable are (1) a per incident charge for 401k loan disbursements, distributions, QDRO's, compliance testing corrections and hardship withdrawals, (2) a plan amendments fee (for changes to your chosen plan design options), and (3) a plan termination fee (for plans exiting Small Business 401k).

The US Labor Department is currently auditing 401k plans of all sizes because of a trend that may violate current pension laws. Many companies, especially smaller businesses, are shifting plan administrative expenses to plan participants, knowingly or unknowingly. This shift of plan expenses comes in the form of "hidden fees" that are routinely deducted from each participant's retirement savings by some plan providers and mutual funds. Because of lax reporting requirements, no one really knows how much money changes hands behind the scenes, but it is estimated that excessive fees may be as much as $1.5 billion per year, and growing.

In the 401k arena, expense fee disclosure, whether to plan participants or plan sponsors, has been notoriously confusing and unclear. The impact of these confusing hidden fees on plan participants' retirement accounts can be very significant over time. As example, consider a hypothetical 401k investment such as a mutual fund, with deducted expense fees of 1.3 percent versus one with fees of just .3 percent. Applied to an initial 401k investment of $5,000, with regular annual investments of $5,000 returning 10 percent, and compounded over 15 years, the difference between the 'low-fee' investment and the 'high-fee' investment adds up to $15,398. That's a significant sum deducted from a participant's retirement savings.

Policymakers and plan sponsors seeking to structure well-managed 401ks for their aging workforces are beginning to acknowledge the negative impact hidden fees has on eroding pension accumulations for retirement. What might appear to be a small difference in deducted investment fees can result in substantial differences in eventual retirement benefits.

No asset-based fees

We keep our 401k plans as affordable as possible for our clients, many being small and very small companies.

We do not accept any rebates or revenue sharing of fees deducted from our clients' plan assets unless those fees can be returned to the plan or used to offset plan expenses. Entities that provide and support 401k plan investments include mutual funds managers, fund distributors, asset custodians, asset trustees, investment brokers and advisors, and plan administrators and record-keepers. These entities typically earn at least a portion of their compensation from asset-based fees deducted from plan assets.

Small Business 401k is the exception to the norm. We do not earn any compensation, either directly or indirectly, from our clients' 401k plan assets. If rebates are offered, we have the rebates returned to the client or directly applied to reducing our clients' costs. Our published prices are the only net compensation we collect.

Asset-based fees are an unavoidable fact of life if your company is using mutual funds (including institutional mutual funds) or self-directed brokerage accounts. The cost of these asset-based fees must be included when determining the true, overall cost of a 401k plan.

For more information about asset-based fees, we recommend reading "Revenue Sharing in the 401K) Marketplace-Whose Money Is It?" by The McHenry Consulting Group and "Study of 401k Plan Fees and Expenses" by the US Department of Pension Welfare and Benefits.

Special 401k Fee Disclosure Website

401k Fee Disclosure Website

We set-up a special website ( to help explain and partially satisfy the 401k service provider fee and 401k investments fee disclosure requirements under ERISA 408(b)(2).

The information in this special website assists plan participants in both understanding the impact fees have on their 401k, and making informed investment decisions.

Converting an already-existing retirement plan to a Small Business 401k retirement plan

Plan conversions involve administrative work on our part before we can get to the normal Small Business 401k plan and system customization work. In most cases, plan conversion fees amount to less than $500. This one-time conversion fee is in addition to the normal Small Business 401k setup fee (and it is likely far less than you would otherwise spend having your current provider run your plan for even another six months).

Your current 401k provider may charge plan termination fees, as it likely has some administrative expenses involved with closing down your existing plan. Contact your current plan provider to learn about any plan termination fees.

You can view all the plan design options available with Small Business 401k by scanning through our Conversion Plans Order Form. If you have specific questions, contact us or submit a Conversion Plan Order Form and mark "Unsure. Please contact..." as applicable. Submitting an order form is the most expedient way for us to serve you, even if all you want at the moment is answers to conversion-related questions, because the order form collects pertinent information we likely need to answer your questions. Submitting an order form IN NO WAY obligates you to actually placing an order - no money changes hands - but the form does gather the data we need to accurately answer your 401k-related questions. Oh, and of course we do NOT share your data with any party.

Everything is included

Small Business 401k includes EVERYTHING you need to provide your company with a great 401k plan using any computer with Internet access and about 20 minutes a month (for most small business 401k plans).

Small Business 401k includes:

An IRS-approved Prototype 401k Plan
Our IRS-approved prototype 401k plan is replete with 401k plan design options that allow you to create the 401k you and your employees will call a true benefit.
Your Own Plan Sponsor Gateway + Plan Participant Gateway
We customize our powerful yet easy-to-use web-based 401k plan administration and participation systems to the plan design and administration choices you make. The customization information works in conjunction with the up-to-date IRS and other governing regulations programmed into the online software to streamline your 401k's operation while keeping you apprised of your plan's health and growing wealth.
Extensive Help Systems
You receive free, professional help with understanding your 401k plan design and management options as well as with running your plan via Small Business 401k. Context-sensitive onscreen help plus additional online and printed materials are right at hand. Additional free as well as fee-based support is also available. We even provide free help with preparing federal reporting forms regarding your 401k plan and with meeting required ERISA requirements (which is easy when using Small Business 401k, as the system takes care of things for you). Visit our Support page for more information.
401k Investments
Small Business 401k lets you choose both the investment approach (no-load mutual fund families, including no-load institutional mutual fund families, and/or self-directed brokerage accounts) and the specific investment provider(s) for your 401k plan. No other 401k plan offers greater investment flexibility. Visit our Investments pages for specifics, including listings of potential investments.
Plan-Specific 401k Forms and Materials
Our online plan-specific 401k participation and employee education forms and materials explain 401k concepts (401k loans, 401k enrollment, 401k investing, etc.) to your employees while gathering the data needed for you to run your company plan.
IRS Reporting Help
As mentioned above, we help out with the federal reporting regarding your 401k plan. Our 401k FedForms website ( explains which federal reporting forms are relevant to your particular 401k plan shows annotated versions of each relevant Form or Schedule (Form 5500, 1099-R, etc.) so you know exactly where within your 401k software to locate needed information, and even includes ready-to-complete Summary Annual Report PDF that take just moments to fill in.

Money-back guarantee

Small Business 401k comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee on everything but the $595 one-time plan and software customization fee (and plan conversion fee, if any). Because the setup fee is non-refundable, we created a fully functioning demo version of our 401k system for people to try out before they order their actual Small Business 401k plan.

The online real-time demo is the real Small Business 401k. We customized it to service a fictitious company's plan, and then provide access to all (which of course is not the case with an actual plan). Nearly every 401k administration feature is activated. The demo system let's prospective clients try self-service online administration and participation on for size before spending any money.

Our goal at Small Business 401k is to ensure that all our clients and their employees have 401k plans they feel good about. If your company purchases Small Business 401k and then down the road decides the self-service administrative approach is not the right approach for you, give us a call: We can convert your Small Business 401k plan into a traditional, full-service plan that will still allow for 24/7 online access for plan participation but with professionals handing the plan administration for you.

Free technical support

Small Business 401k includes an easy-to-read yet comprehensive 401k Management Guide that tells you how to run your company plan via Small Business 401k.

The 401k Setup Guide includes getting started as well as ongoing operation instructions. Getting started is as easy as importing (or inputting) employee data.
The accompanying 401k Management Guide CD-ROM, which is also accessible online, contains instructions for less common transactions and includes background information, should you care to read such, regarding 401k plan operations.
There is additional free as well as fee-based support, should you need it. See our Support page for information.

Free IRS reporting help

Small Business 401k includes free help with your 401k-related federal reporting.

Our 401k FedForms website displays annotated versions of the relevant year's 401k-related federal reporting forms and schedules (Form 1099-R, the 5500 series, etc.) and tells you which are relevant to your particular 401k plan, when each form is due to the IRS, plus additional information.
401k FedForms contains both popup instructions and printable annotations that tell you where within your 401k software to locate needed information.
401k FedForms even includes ready-to-complete Summary Annual Reports that take just moments to complete.
401k FedForms is a free service for our 401k clients.
Click here to preview the 401k FedForms (

Price advantage: Small Business 401k saves clients an average of 60% to 80% every year

According to a recent study, fees are the #1 reason retirement plan sponsors switch plan providers. They are also a key factor in choosing a 401k plan provider in the first place.

According to HR Investment Consultants in Towson, MD, publisher of the "401k Provider Directory, "the cost of running a 401k plan with 25 participants and $750,000 in assets can range from as little as $6,750 per year to as much as $20,000, depending on which 401k vendor you select." (Sources: Nation's Business, September 1998, Myers, Randy "Your 401k Plan May Cost You Too Much," Business Week Online, July 2000, Brenner, Lynn "A Wealth of Choices.")

A Small Business 401k 25-participant plan costs only $1895/yr (plus the first-year-only, one-time setup fee of $595)
The national average for a 25-participant plan is a whopping $6,750/yr to $20,000/yr (plus plan setup fees and minus the flexible 401k options that are all free with Small Business 401k).

We compared the cost of a complete, fully-customized Small Business 401k system with the cost of bundled 401k plans offered by a broad cross-section of major national vendors that allow for no-load mutual fund families (including no-load institutional mutual fund families) and/or self-directed discount brokerage accounts as 401k investments.

It's not a perfect comparison, of course: Their 401k plans often include cumbersome off-site 401k administration, ours include superior investment choice, superior plan flexibility, superior asset security, employee statements on demand, unlimited compliance testing (with results in seconds), IRS 401k reporting help, and a 60-day money-back guarantee.
We found that Small Business 401k clients save an average of 60% to 80% a year off the lowest priced national vendor's bundled 401k plan. It's a savings of 60% to 80% for about 20 minutes of online data entry work a month.

The charts below maps out some price comparisons for 20 - person plans. We did not even bother mapping Small Business 401k's smallest plans - those serving fewer than 20 employees - because in the very small plan arena Small Business 401k is so, so far more cost-effective than the competition, that we didn't feel the comparisons worth bothering.

BASELINE ANNUAL FEE Small Business 401k The Online 401(k) EZ401 Fidelity e401k Intuit Unplug 401(k) Principal Impact Plus
20 PERSON PLAN $1,295 per year
$595 setup fee
$2,580 per year
$1,000 setup fee
$2,520 per year ($1800 annual fee + $36/partic. fee)
$401 setup fee
$2,350 per year (annual fee = $1750 annual fee + $30/partic. fee)
$750 setup fee
$2,040 per year ($1320 annual fee + $36/partic. fee)
$1,000 setup fee
$2,300 per year ($1700 annual fee + $30/partic. fee)
$500 setup fee
INVESTMENT OPTIONS Small Business 401k The Online 401(k) EZ401 Fidelity e401k Intuit Unplug 401(k) Principal Impact Plus
  UNLIMITED selection of no-load funds, INCLUDING ACCESS TO Fidelity Funds and Vanguard Funds, or self-directed brokerage accounts. No hidden fees or charges Limited investment selection, with no access to Fidelity Funds or Vanguard Funds. Extra charges for self-directed brokerage accounts Prepackaged investments; investment fees may apply (in addition to normal asset-based fees) Fidelity Funds investments only Limited investment choices. Prepackaged mutual funds with approx. average expense ratio of 1.5% in addition to fund fees and costs. Principal Funds only
CONVERSION PLAN FEE Small Business 401k The Online 401(k) EZ401 Fidelity e401k Intuit Unplug 401(k) Principal Impact Plus
  $500 (on average) $1,495 $xx $1,000 (not listed) (not listed)
ANNUAL LOAN FEE Small Business 401k The Online 401(k) EZ401 Fidelity e401k Intuit Unplug 401(k) Principal Impact Plus
  none $95 per loan $125 per loan $75 per loan (not listed) $40 per loan + $8 per quarter (latter paid by the plan participant)
DISTRIBUTION FEE Small Business 401k The Online 401(k) EZ401 Fidelity e401k Intuit Unplug 401(k) Principal Impact Plus
  $30 per distribution $95 per distribution $100 per distribution $25 per distribution (not listed) (not listed
ESTIMATED HIDDEN FEES (charged against plan assets) Small Business 401k The Online 401(k) EZ401 Fidelity e401k Intuit Unplug 401(k) Principal Impact Plus
Plan Assets of $250,000 $0 $3,750 per yr $3,750 per yr $3,750 per yr $3,750 per yr $3,750 per yr
Plan Assets of $1,000,000 $0 $15,000 per yr $15,000 per yr $15,000 per yr $15,000 per yr $15,000 per yr
NOTES Small Business 401k The Online 401(k) EZ401 Fidelity e401k Intuit Unplug 401(k) Principal Impact Plus
  No hidden fees or commissions Possible hidden fees/costs Investment fees may apply (in addition to any normal asset-based fees) Nondiscrimination testing fee of up to $1,000 (fee contingent upon plan design) Hidden investment fees/costs; $150 per plan amendment Hidden investment fees/costs

US department of labor 401k cost comparison worksheet

The US Department of Labor created a worksheet to assist consumers in comparing 401k providers. We have filled in information regarding both Small Business 401k and our sister product, 401(k) Easy for the PC (see the Our Products page for information about 401(k) Easy for the PC). If you would like to fill-in information regarding additional 401k products, print the PDF version.

  Small Business 401k (competitor)
New Plan Fee - Baseline Component $595 $
New Plan Fee - Per-Participant Component none $
Conversion Plan Fee (in addition to the above New Plan Fee) $500 or less (depends on plan size + conversion complexity) $
Federal Document Filing Fee none $
Asset-Based Fees none $
1 Eligible Employee (plus spouse) $495 $
2-4 Eligible Employees $695 $
5-10 Eligible Employees $895 $
11-15 Eligible Employees $995 $
16-20 Eligible Employees $1,295 $
21-25 Eligible Employees $1,595 $
26-30 Eligible Employees $1,795 $
31-35 Eligible Employees $1,995 $
36-40 Eligible Employees $2,195 $
41-45 Eligible Employees $2,395 $
46-50 Eligible Employees $2,595 $
annual "per participant" fee none $
Annuity Contract Administration Fee none $
Daily Valuing and Updating of Account Balances none $
Distribution Processing Fee $30 $
Loan Origination Fee $30 $
Loan Tracking Fee none $
Participant Statement and/or Balance Inquiry Fee none $
Payroll Processing Fee none $
Trust-To-Trust Investment Transfer Fees none $
Nondiscrimination Testing none $
IRS Form 5500 Information none $
Annual Audit Report none $
Mandatory Plan Amendment Fees none $
Plan Document Determination Letter Fee none $
Plan Transfer Fees none $
Access to Brokerage Window none $
Back-End Load Mutual Funds Commissions none $
Front-End Load Mutual Fund Commissions none $
No-Load (Commission-Free) Mutual Funds none $
Equity Funds (No-Load) 20 BPS per year $
Bond Funds (No-Load) 15 BPS per year $
Specialty Funds (No-Load) 40 BPS per year $
Average Expense Ratios of No-Load Funds 25 BPS per year $
12-B1 Fees none $
Fund Turnover Charges none $
Rebalancing Fees none $
Sales Loads and Commissions none $
Soft Dollars none $
Sub-Transfer Agent (Sub-TA) Fee none $
Transaction Fees none $
Wrap Fees none $
Annuity Termination Charges none $