Why Custom Target-Date Funds May Be a Better Option Than Traditional Ones

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Target-Date Funds

Target-Date Funds

Why Custom Target-Date Funds May Be a Better Option Than Traditional Ones

David Dierking Jan 24, 2017

What Are Custom Target-Date Funds?

In case if you are wondering whether mutual funds are right for you at all, you should read why mutual funds, in general, should be a part of your portfolio. Also check out the various mutual fund options, including pre-packaged target-date funds, in our Retirement Fund section.

Employers can choose to go with custom target-date funds for a variety of reasons.

  • Better diversification – Traditional target-date funds typically include only funds from one provider and may not include some asset classes. Custom funds allow employers to choose funds from multiple providers and securities from more asset classes to best fill out their menus.
  • Custom glide path – Employers who feel the glide path of existing funds is either too aggressive or too conservative can customize portfolio risk levels and changes over time according to their own preferences and needs.
  • Customization to workforce – Target-date funds tend to follow a one-size-fits-all model. Custom funds allow employers to optimize the investments offered to fit their own workforce demographics.
  • Cost savings – Many target-date funds include costlier actively managed funds. They also typically tack on extra management fees on top of the underlying fund fees. A custom fund allows the employer to choose low-cost index funds to fill out its portfolio in order to save on overall management fees.

You can read how target-date funds work to familiarize with this class of mutual funds.

Fiduciary Consideration for Employers

Check the questions that you should ask your target-date fund provider.

While target-date funds have been great additions to retirement plan menus, they are complex investments and aren’t necessarily appropriate for everyone. The use of custom funds recognizes that employers are putting greater effort into seeing what’s inside these funds and finding mixes that are more appropriate to the investors (i.e. the plan participants) they’re serving. In this sense, custom funds reduce fiduciary risk.

On the other hand, developing custom investment options places more responsibility on employers to build their funds properly. Developing inadequate investment options or filling these portfolio with high cost funds may ultimately be considered not in the best interests of participants.

Should Employees Push for Custom Target-Date Funds?

These funds tend to be advantageous to employees because they’re often more customized to their specific needs. Custom funds can offer greater diversification and a more risk-appropriate glide path at a potentially lower cost. In addition, they’re routinely more in line with the goals of the plan sponsor than the plan provider – an aspect that plan participants should be more comfortable while making the right investment decision.

The Bottom Line

Be sure to follow our Target-date Funds section to make the right investment decision.

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