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Just Put It on My 401(k) Debit Card

Fred Barstein, president and chief executive of 401(K) Exchange, adopted ReservePlus for his employees almost a year ago. He says the program hasn't changed the frequency with which his workers take out loans against their retirement, or the size of their loans, but it has created a stable loan program for his largely transitory work force -- about 75 of his 110 employees work in the call center. As the head of a company, who helps plan sponsors and advisers find the right plan, he says, it was particularly important for him to provide his employees with a "state of the art plan."

Still, Barry Kublin, president of BPA-Harbridge, an employee-benefits company with 15% of its outstanding 401(k) loan portfolio comprised of ReservePlus loans, says there is some resistance to the product's adoption. Investment advisers, he says, worry about money leaving the plans and employers worry about employees squandering their savings.

"It's a young technology, and clearly requires education to address misconceptions," says Kublin. "Do we deny the overwhelming percentage of 401(k) participants a portable convenient loan product that is responsive to their needs because of the irresponsible few?"

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