Meanwhile, as the asset base has grown, executives have begun exercising the plan's muscle in reducing expense ratios, moving to institutional share classes and reviewing some of the original investments.
“We're not standing pat,” said Jaime Erickson, director of retirement benefits for NBCUniversal, New York. “We're trying to make sure we're in the cheapest share class possible. To get into the institutional share classes, you need a certain level of assets.”
Among the plan's 16 core mutual funds, 10 are lower-priced institutional shares; and more are on the way. On July 1, the plan will switch to institutional shares for two funds — the large blend Spartan 500 Index Fund run by Fidelity Investments and Vanguard's Prime Money Market fund. Expense ratios will be cut to four basis points from six and to nine points from 20, respectively.
Also on July 1, the plan will offer lower-fee Admiral shares for Vanguard's FTSE All-World ex-U.S. Index Fund, reducing the expense ratio to eight basis points from 35.
These aren't the only money-saving efforts by NBCUniversal. In December 2011, the plan switched to a different class for the Vanguard target-date fund series, reducing the expense ratio to nine basis points from 17.
In February, NBCUniversal cut the expense ratios on two Fidelity Spartan funds by switching to Advantage class shares. The Spartan Extended Market Index Fund's expense ratio was reduced to seven basis points from 10 basis points, while the expense ratio for the Spartan 500 Index Fund was trimmed to six basis points from seven basis points.
July 1 also marks the introduction of a 2060 fund to the Vanguard target-date series. The series accounts for 57% of the plan's total assets.
Ms. Erickson said NBCUniversal chose Vanguard, Malvern, Pa., for the target-date series for its low cost and because Vanguard manages the target-date series for Comcast's 401(k) plan.
Boston-based Fidelity was chosen as record keeper for the NBCUniversal plan because Fidelity already is record keeper for both the $17.3 billion GE plan and the $3.21 billion Comcast plan, Ms. Erickson said. “We wanted to leverage that relationship,” she said.
The original investment lineup and plan design was created with advice from Aon Hewitt, Lincolnshire, Ill. The current investment consultant, Tower Watson & Co., was chosen in December following an RFP in which Aon Hewitt was invited to bid.
“We're looking at the lineup to see if there is a need to cover all distinct 16 asset classes,” Ms. Erickson said. “We are looking at some of the funds where there may be performance issues, or where we decide we may not need to have that specific fund in our lineup.”