Trade groups from the banking, insurance, and mutual fund industries have jointly developed a disclosure form to help employers shop for 401(k) plans.

The American Bankers Association, the American Council of Life Insurance, and the Investment Company Institute said the form would help businesses identify and compare investment fees and administrative expenses associated with 401(k) plans that they offer to employees.

"This fee-disclosure form is the culmination of an extensive effort by the financial services industries to give 401(k) plan sponsors a tool to help them make appropriate cost-benefit decisions," ABA executive vice president Donald G. Ogilvie said in a statement.

The Labor Department, which asked the three groups in December to develop the form, plans to post it on its Web site: The groups also plan to distribute the forms to their members.

The form was designed for small businesses, but the groups said many medium-size and large businesses could use it too.

"The form will help employers gain a better understanding of the different 401(k) products offered by insurers, mutual funds, and banks," said ICI president Matthew P. Fink.

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