In 1993, I wanted a Hewlett Packard LaserJet printer. They were all black and white printers in those days and the cheapest you could find at the time was around $900-$100. At the time I was buying a PC Clone 486DX-33 (that was fast in those days), I got a brand new HP LaserJet 4L, which was this new budget laser printer and I think it might have been $649 or $849, I forget. 26 years later, I am now on my 5th HP Printer. This one is color, laser, with a scan, and copier. It was on sale through Amazon for about $440. Sure they don’t build HP like they used to, but thanks to technological breakthroughs, I get a better printer at a fraction of what I paid in 1993 dollars.
When it comes to 401(k) plans, we are working harder and making less. At least we think we’re working harder because technology has been a great leader in letting us do more in less time. Drafting plan documents these days are just a fraction of what it took in 1999 for me and I still, charge the same plan document fee. So while my fees haven’t increased, the length of time in creating one has decreased. So I might make less, but I have time to do more.
Sure competition and fee transparency has made fees compress, but just remember that most of the compression has to do with technological advances that let us do more work.