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The days when RIAs were the outsiders at the 401(k) party are fast coming to a close. What's new is that the mass of 401(k) assets is getting critical at about $3 trillion; fiduciary advisors are getting appreciated; fat fees and questionable kickbacks are getting exposed and stepping out of line is getting dicier as the Department of Labor tightens the regulatory screws.

The old reasons why the 401(k) business is attractive are still in place: there are fresh assets pouring in every month and when employees leave jobs or retire, they produce rollovers that build up IRA accounts for financial advisors. The drawbacks of getting into the 401(k) business are still in place, too. Dealing with retirement assets is really a second line of business and it remains -- unless you overcharge with hidden fees -- a low margin business with high potential fiduciary liabilities.

Still, the outsourcers, infrastructure and accumulated knowledge for RIAs to capitalize on is growing daily and a the mega-shift of assets away from brokers is making the 401(k) business riskier and riskier -- to ignore.

Dimensional Fund Advisors to launch 13 target date funds but can its RIA 'cult' deliver success?



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Capitalizing on 'unintended consequences' of DOL changes, Ken Fisher pounces on a fat-margin 401(k) opportunity



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Stealing the FPA show, 'rock star' Marcia Wagner sounds four-alarm fire drill on DOL's onrushing fiduciary rule -- especially one arising from a stumper of a rollover provision



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Report: 'Brother-in-law' dabblers are giving 401(k) ground slowly to specialists in $1.3 trillion market



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After cutting 401(k) middlemen out backfires, Schwab cuts them back in



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CalPERS's hatchet man, Ted Eliopoulos, goes on a manager firing spree, shaving hundreds of millions in management fees -- but is it enough?



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