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Harry's final column: On money managers

This 401(k) plan is managed by someone who gets a commission on everything he buys.

DEAR HARRY: My employer has selected a money manager for our 401(k) plan. Today I learned that he gets compensated by getting a commission on everything he buys. He gets nothing on sales. I also got the feeling that he was churning our accounts. For example: He bought 100 shares of Berkshire Hathaway in February, another 25 in April; then sold half in August. He just bought back 50 shares.

His total commission for 2014 was more than $2 million on a total portfolio of about $65 million. A co-worker thinks the money manager gets more than we are told. The company won't change the method of payment, nor change managers. Any ideas?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Don't give up hope. The administration has proposed a revised rule for pension-plan administrators. They will be forced to act in the best interest of the client even if it is not in their own best interest. No more side deals; no more conflicts of interest. In addition, it will be enforced by the Department of Labor, which has and uses more muscle than the SEC.

Naturally, the financial-services men and women are spending a bundle trying to prevent the proposed rule from going into effect. This is just one more situation in which government regulation will affect favorably the retirement income of the "little guy."

EDITOR'S NOTE: It seems appropriate that the last words of this column are "little guy." Longtime Daily News personal-finance columnist Harry Gross, 92, who has been fighting for the "little guy" for decades, has decided to retire and this is his final column. You can still email Harry at, or

write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-Red Cross.