One reason the retirement plan industry pushed back so hard on open fee disclosure: sponsors who can break out exactly what they're getting for their money can shop around.
Plan administrators have already started taking a harder look at affiliated advisors in order to make themselves more attractive to cost-minded plans.
As plan sponsors start seeing their costs broken out, they will be better able to compare apples to oranges in terms of overall spending as well as target areas that look inflated.
This was actually the Labor Department's goal in mandating plain English itemized billing in the first place, so it is a little strange to see such an investor-focused regulatory goal come to fruition in something like its original framework.
Relatively "expensive" plan advisors are already pointing out that they provide plenty of value for their fees, with some moving now to document that value better when they prospect for new clients.
That's a smart move. Those who simply shrug and say "it's hard to quantify" tend to lose out when confronted with the hard numbers.