How many Doritos are in a serving? For most of us, it's whatever amount is left in the bag. Unless you're raiding your kid's lunchbox snack size stash. Then it might be two bags. While concerns about the amount of nutrition or serving size in that particular snack may be taking it to the extreme, the fact is that government mandated nutrition labels on our food have made more information clearly available about what we are eating than ever before.

That has me wondering. Target Date Funds, an investment concept that started with relative simplicity, have become very confusing. With 75+ mutual fund families trying to figure out how to differentiate themselves from the big three market share leaders, what are retirement plan participants left with to decipher? We have target through TDFs, target to TDFs and risk based TDFs with new variations no doubt on the drawing board.

Add this to mix: There's absolutely no industry standard guidance concerning the glide path. I have no issue with this point when looked at in a vacuum, but there are many factors that go into choosing investments and there is no easy way to determine the different glide paths of similarly "dated" funds from different fund families. A person should be able to pick up prospectuses from different TDFs from different fund families (especially if they are evaluating whether to leave their 401(k) at their old job, move it to their new job's plan or roll over the balance into an IRA) and be able to understand certain basic facts so they can at least provide a cursory description of “what’s inside” that can be compared to one another. 

Every TDF fund prospectus should list what the current U.S. stocks/International stocks/bonds/cash allocation is. It should show the glide path. It should disclose the expanse ratio. Surely there is a uniform method to present this important information that will bring better understanding to all.

The last thing 401(k)s need is more regulation. But if we as an industry don't do something about this, someone else will. Let's make more information more readily available to plan participants and other investors. As for Doritos? There are 140 calories in the example I recently read on a bag. Of course the serving size is only eleven chips. 

Harris Nydick, CFP, CIMC, AIFA, is a Co-founding partner and Co-Managing Member of CFS Investment Advisory Services, L.L.C. in Totowa, NJ. He can be reached at (973)826-8800 or harris@cfsias.com.

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