I've got bad news for the 30,000 participants in Dell's (NASDAQ: DELL) $1.6 billion 401(k) plan. They're going to have to work another ten years to earn up to $202,000 in lost retirement savings, compared to the participants in the top-rated plan in its peer group.

Dell's plan isn't all that bad. It's about average.

It took me ten seconds to get this information. How did I do it?

I used Brightscope, a newly launched website that rates the 401(k) plans of publicly traded companies using hundreds of data points obtained from publicly available data.

Employees can use Brightscope to find out how good -- or bad -- their 401(k) plan really is. There's no charge for this service. Employers can pay Brightscope to obtain a full set of analytics used by Brightscope to rate its plan. They can also obtain advice on how to improve their Brightscope ratings.

It should be a win-win, for employees and employers. It's long overdue. Brightscope is a very bright idea.

Dan Solin is the author of The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read and The Smartest 401(k) Book You'll Ever Read. Visit his website at Smartestinvestmentbook.com.


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