…you can’t have the other.
Sadly, and even with the recent proliferation of indexing, most workplace retirement plans are just not very good.
Combo 1: For most people it’s very possible to get a diversified portfolio at work, BUT, it’ll likely have elevated fees because the custodian of the plan has pumped the plan full of mutual funds that either give them a kickback on fees for the pleasure of being on the menu, or they’re proprietary funds so they keep ALL the expenses. Lovely, eh?
Combo 2: For those with some low-fee options, I’ve noticed that these choices are usually limited to a single US large-cap equity index fund and a cousin for international equities, so these folks are stuck with allocating the fixed income portion of their portfolio with a high-fee (read: actively managed) mutual fund (and it’s almost always the PIMCO Total Return Fund, which is a total drama show right now).
Combo 3: It’s very easy to get a low-fee, sufficiently diversified portfolio – but you probably won’t find it at work. If you can, congratulations, your employer cares about your future!