Jan 02, 2022

NGPF Podcast: Ted Benna on the past, present and future of the 401(k)

I had fun reconnecting with Ted Benna, the Father of the 401(k), four years after his last guest appearance on the NGPF Podcast. He's been a busy guy since then, writing a book (401(k) 40 Years Later), updated another (401(k) for Dummies), advised start-ups and worked with small businesses to help them develop high quality, low-cost retirement plans for their employees. In this podcast, you will hear Ted's fascinating perspective on the 401(k) market as it has grown to $15 trillion in assets. Enjoy! 


  • 0:00~1:17 Introduction
  • 1:17~3:00 Retirement plans available for small employers
  • 3:00~5:15 The beginnings of the 401(k)
  • 5:15~7:46 The evolution of investment options for the 401(k)
  • 7:46~12:09 Vanguard and the 401(k)
  • 12:09~14:53 Mutual fund fees
  • 14:53~20:44 The birth of the Target Date Fund
  • 20:44~21:13 A word from NGPF
  • 21:13~24:39 What to look for in a Target Date Fund
  • 24:39~30:21 Thoughts on improving the 401(k)
  • 30:21~32:56 The case against the Roth
  • 32:56~35:18 Conclusion



  • “I have [recently] been working on primarily how to make the IRA-based plans more attractive for small employers and employees, [because] the 401(k) for many of them is just not the right type of plan.”


For many of your students, the 401(k) will be their introduction to investing. Prepare them for this pivotal moment with these NGPF activities and lessons. 


About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Ren Makino

Ren started interning at NGPF in 2014, and worked part-time through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, he joined the team to work full-time after graduating from college in 2020. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.

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