A Method To Select & Analyze 401K Investment Choices

When your employer offers you the benefit of a 401K investment option, you need to select from the choices they offer in the retirement plan. My employer is revamping and forcing investors to switch companies and select from a few choices. Here's the process I followed to make my decision.
Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor and considering this information is at your own risk.

  1.  Go to your companies 401K website and find the link for the comparison of the "Various products, fees and investment items". There you should find a quarterly performance report for the last quarter. 
  2. The first thing I review is the historical returns, and the fees. I eliminate any with high fees over about 5%.
  3. Then I look for double digit returns in the last year. Eliminate any choices that don't have at least double digit returns in the past three to five years.
  4. Also consider the type of fund being considered and what risk range is preferred.
  5. So, now you only have a handful to investigate further. Find out the ticker symbol of the fund or stock so you can investigate dividends, review the performance charts and see projected dividends.
  6. With your ticker symbol, you can search google finance to determine the last years dividend. If there is no dividend, then eliminate the choice from your remaining inventory.
  7. I like to use a free android app called Dividend Tracker to look up and research funds.
  8. Then I made a chart in Excel where I could compare the potential of the ticker symbol by taking the share price minus the annual fee cost and add the annual dividend income (average 5 year) to come up with the final projected value of the the fund/stock.
  9. Using Dividend Tracker I can find the 5 year average dividend which I use instead of last years. I also can review the dividend history to see if they have been decreasing or increasing, or have stopped altogether.
  10. Review your choices and add more to your chart if none of them look promising. If you decide on a fund, google it and research it further to be sure it aligns with your investment strategies.
stock  price  #shares in 100K fee -fee divd per share +annual dividend value+AVG divd-fee 5 yr avg divd 5yr divd proj price to div ratio
RGAEX 49.63 2073.83 6.8  $  680.00  $   5.08  $  10,535.05  $  107,283.50 $3.84 10.55% 9
VCSRX 22.50 4623.21 5.6  $  560.00  $   2.04  $     9,431.35  $  103,508.42 $0.88 9.45% 11
LSSIX 27.23 3725.78 9.4  $  940.00  $   2.58  $     9,612.52  $  107,256.72 $2.20 9.61% 10
INGIX 15.90 6561.68 2.7  $  270.00  $   0.95  $     6,233.60  $  108,260.18 $1.30 51.62% 16
RNPEX 44.24 2341.37 8  $  800.00  $   2.83  $     6,626.08  $  104,468.09 $2.25 6.33% 15
IICIX 10.40 9532.89 3.5  $  350.00  $   0.18  $     1,715.92  $  102,700.52 $0.32 4.23% 58
VIIIX 272.79 382.54 0.2  $     20.00  $   3.30  $     1,262.38  $  101,747.34 $4.62 1.93% 79

The chart starts with the price of the fund. It assumes you have $100,000 invested and divides by share price to give the Number of Shares. Then fees are listed by %, and dollar amount based on your principle of $100K. The dividend per share amount is taken from Dividend tracker and used to calculate the annual dividend by taking the last years dividend amount multiplied by the number of shares. Then you can add your $100K + annual dividend - fee = value of your money. Of course you want the largest value, but it is not guaranteed. This is just a projection if all funds are analyzed equally. 

I like to also consider the share price vs dividend ratio by dividing the share price by the last years dividend. The smaller number the better value. In fact that is the column I sort my chart by, the dividend ratio.

You will notice that just because a fund has a high fee does not mean it is the worst choice. It may have a high dividend and low share price to compensate for that and provide you with good value at the end of the year.

You will also notice that a low fee fund is not necessarily the best choice either. It may not provide good dividends or any dividends.

Again, I remind you I am not a finance advisor and this is just an example of how I review choices to invest in.

Good Luck!

#money #invest #retire
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