One Small Company in St Paul MN – One Great 401k Plan for America

Does a small company in St Paul MN have a retirement plan that is so good that it’s significance is worth comparing to the first moon landing?  That’s probably a stretch, but their plan is a great model for other employers, both large and small, to emulate.  It is likely one of the best plans in America.

John Kingrey is the recently retired Executive Director of the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association (MCAA) and responsible for implementing the new plan before he left.  MCAA has just 5 employees and uses a simple 401k matching plan.  With the new plan, the employees’ average cost is .15% per account.  The industry average for small plans is around 1.30 to 1.40%.  As you can see, the plan is very inexpensive for the employees.  And with just 5 people, the MCAA plan is far smaller than what is even considered a small plan.  John agreed to answer a few questions about their new plan.

Thanks for your time John.  You just recently retired as the Executive Director of a trade association in St Paul MN.  Can you tell us a little about the organization you retired from?

The professional trade association was a membership organization which provided training, public policy development, and advocacy for it’s members. It had a budget of approximately $750,000 funded through dues, product sales, and grants.

One of the things that you were able to implement prior to your departure was a change in your arrangement for your retirement plan.  Prior to the change, how long were you with your current provider?

We were with another provider for approximately 13 years. It was a provider that I recommended due to the positive experience with my previous employer.

How aware were you and/or your staff of the overall fee structure of your plan?

We did not appreciate and had only limited knowledge of the fees associated with our previous plan. When we reviewed how those costs could be reduced, it made sense to restructure our plan.

When you started to learn more about your plan and your options were you surprised at how much you could reduce the cost of your plan?

The staff was very surprised that the fees and administrative costs could be reduced by more than 50%. They were involved in the decision to switch plans.

As a trade association, how did your Board of Directors respond to the idea of changing to a new arrangement?

Since the Simple 401k funding was capped, the Board supported the move to a new plan as a sensible way to provide an additional benefit to employees through reduced fees.

In your situation, the trade association decided that it would pay for some of the costs of plan support such as record keeping and advisory guidance.  Why did you do that?

The Board supported my recommendation to pay for some of the costs of plan support as a way to provide an additional benefit for our employees. Otherwise, those costs – albeit small – would have been picked up by the employees. Since our Simple 401k was capped, this was a reasonable way to provide an additional benefit to our staff.

With your new plan, your employees only pay the costs of the funds and then can also pay a small fee if they want personal planning assistance as well, is that correct?

The employees pay a small fee for personal planning. I was very impressed with the clear, straightforward information provided through the plan’s website at no cost. My only regret is that we didn’t make the move sooner.

Thanks John.  MCAA’s new plan is a nice legacy for the employees.  Congratulations!

You can contact John directly at with questions.  


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