Best 401(k) Investments

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Some people never pay attention to their 401(k) accounts. Every pay period, they watch their contributions come out of their earnings without knowing the 3-year average annual return (AAR) of their investments. The investments in your 401(k) account are your money soldiers.

They should be fighting to get the highest return for your retirement years. If some of them aren’t, Benzinga has a list of the best 401(k) investments for you. Most 401(k) plans have a limited amount of administrator approved mutual funds. But these top funds should make the cut. 

Best 401(k) Investments:

  • S&P 500 Index Fund
  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VTSAX)
  • Federal Advisor Technology Fund (FADTX)

Where to Manage Your 401(k):

Best 401(k) Investments

You can judge a solid investment fund by its expense ratio and its average yearly performance. The expense ratio represents the annual percentage your fund’s takes for expenses from your assets. For instance, a $0.02 expense ratio means you spend $2 in expenses for every $10,000 you invest. Ideally, you want the lowest expense ratio possible. Plus, you want the fund to have a 10-year AAR of 10% or higher. 

Here is a list of the best companies to meet these criteria. 

1. S&P 500 Index Fund

An S&P 500 Index Fund gives you exposure to 500 of the highest performing companies in the U.S. It represents many industries and ¾ of U.S. stock values. Since the Vanguard 500 Index Investor Shares (VFINX) closed its doors to new investors, the Fidelity 500 Index Fund (FXAIX) is your next best choice in the S&P 500 category. 

This 32-year-old fund operates within the Morningstar Large Blend Category. This category consists of portfolios that reflect the overall stock market in size, price and growth rates. The FXAIX has consistently posted higher AARs than the Large Blend standard. Also, its AAR almost mirrors the S&P 500. 

FXAIX has an incredibly low expense ratio. This fund’s net assets lead the pack of available S&P Funds. Here are its 2020 stats.

Expense RatioAverage Annual Return/10 yearTotal Net Assets of 2020Risk/Return
5-point system
0.015%13.54%$219.3 Billion4

2. Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VTSAX)

This 28-year-old fund gives you a low-cost opportunity for a broad interest in the entire U.S. equity market. This includes small-, mid- and large-cap value and growth stocks. Its impressively low expense ratio makes the Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund a 401(k) favorite.

Using a diversification strategy, this fund posted an exceptional 10-year AAR. This could be a good fund for you provided you are willing to assume the volatility inherent with stock market investing. Take a look at the VTSAX 2020 stats.

Expense RatioAverage Annual Return/10 yearTotal Net Assets of 2020Risk Level                   
1 low – 5 high
0.04%13.42%$229.9 billion4

3. Federal Advisor Technology Fund (FADTX)

Your 401(k) could benefit from a sector fund like FADTX. For the past 10 years, it has delivered high returns. In 2019, it posted a 51% return. This fund concentrates on U.S. tech companies. Its most prominent holdings are Microsoft (MSFT), Visa (V) and Apple (AAPL). 

FADTX has a high expense ratio and a low net asset balance. But its 10-year AAR ranks in the upper quintile in its category — it has the highest score of 5 on the YTD Lipper Rating. Since sector investments have a tendency to outperform, FADTX would make an excellent complement to your core holdings in your 401(k). The table shows FADTX stats.

Expense RatioAverage Annual Return/10 yearTotal Net Assets of 2020Risk Level                  
1 low – 5 high
1.03%13.88%$998.2 million4

Where to Manage Your 401(k)

Paying attention to your 401k portfolio can make a difference in the long run. Your employer uses a 401(k) provider to facilitate the plan. The administrator performs the actual transactions, reporting and bookkeeping. You must determine how to rebalance and reallocate your money. There are several ways to get help with managing your 401(k). Choosing an online brokerage is one good option.  It can provide educational material and trading tools pertaining to 401(k) management. These are a few prominent online brokers you should consider. 

1. TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade doesn’t have a minimum cash deposit requirement. So, you can take advantage of its research and educational resources free of charge.

The ETF Market Center allows you to use predefined screeners to research and monitor your ETFs and mutual funds.

You can compare funds, read analyst reports and use the 401(k) Fee Analyzer tool. TD Ameritrade’s education area provides instructional videos, immersion courses with real coaches and webcasts. 

2. Firstrade

Firstrade provides free access to research and reports from Benzinga, Morningstar and Zacks. The education content is meager. And, it is free.

The research feature supplies a prospectus and annual report for almost every available fund. Also, it has a Sectors and Industry tool that helps you make investment decisions with the knowledge of current industry trends. You can join Firstrade with a $0 minimum deposit.

3. TradeStation

Reallocating and rebalancing your investment portfolio are the most important parts of managing your portfolio. TradeStation provides all the tools you need to strengthen your portfolio. With a $500 minimum deposit, you can use the built-in EasyLanguage app to create and test algorithmic trading strategies.

TradeStation has mountains of historical data to help you backtest your investment ideas.  Also, you can use its customizable charts and market scanning tools. If you commit to learning how to use these tools, you can empower yourself with the best ways to invest.

More Financial Advising Help

Seeking professional help to manage your 401(k) is a smart move. In 2014, Financial Engines Inc. published a report that concluded professionally managed assets perform an average of 3.2% better than nonprofessionally-managed assets. However, many professional investment managers could charge up to 3%. SmartAsset can help you find a profitable solution to finding a safe and affordable way to get professional 401(k) management. 


Finding a financial advisor can be a very intimidating thing. You’ve heard the stories of hard-working people losing their life savings to some con artist posing as a financial advisor. It does happen. But SmartAsset helps investors make the best possible financial decisions.

What is SmartAsset? This company provides personalized financial modeling software to assist people in making better decisions about their finances. Its website offers a wealth of tools and information about investing and money management. For instance, you can find out the pros and cons of using a robotic financial advisor. Plus, you can find out how a financial advisor’s fee structures work. 

SmartAsset has many tools that aid you in managing your 401(k). This includes a 401(k) calculator and a tool to help confirm some of your investment decisions. If you are seeking a robo-advisor, this tool helps you determine the best choices. 

If you are searching for a vetted financial planner in your area, SmartAsset’s platform has a superb search tool for that. It begins with you filling out a simple questionnaire design to bring you the best matches. It is a quick and easy process that doesn’t result in you getting dozens of phone calls from financial planners. It displays all the advisor’s information on your screen.

SmartAsset confirms that the investment advisors on its database have proper Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration.  It verifies their licenses and eliminates any financial pros with serious securities violations on their records. 

Can You Manage Your 401(k)?

Decisions about your 401(k) are vital to your future. A casual approach to managing your 401(k) can have consequences. But there are tools and resources that help you make your investments work for you. Benzinga is one of them. With a little due diligence you can make a positive difference in your financial future. 

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