In order to know if a 401k can be self-managed, you first have to understand what it means to self-manage a 401k. Basically, a self managed 401k is often referred to as a self-directed 401k or solo 401k because it allows the self-employed business owner to have responsibility / self-management over the activities of the 401k and its assets.
Moving on, not everybody may want to self-manage their 401k, especially if time is not on your side and/or you are not good at self-managing. A self-managed 401k entails keeping precise records of all 401k transactions, especially in connection with alternative investments such as real estate, precious metals, tax liens, promissory notes, and, from a self-managed 401k participant loan perspective, keeping good records of the solo 401k including making timely solo 401k loan payments.
Further, the self-managed 401k bank account with checkbook feature will serve as vehicle for tracking the flow of the self managed 401k funds. This includes writing checks to purchase the investments in the name of the 401k, writing checks for expense payments (e.g., cost or repairing the toilet or replacing the roof) associated with the 401k owned real estate, to processing the solo 401k loan.
In sum, just like most things, a self-managed 401k is not for everyone. So for those who don’t have the time or skill set to self-manage their personal 401k plan but still want to be able to invest their solo 401k in alternative investments like real estate as well as borrow from the solo 401k (knows as a solo 401k loan), you next best bet may be to open a solo 401k through a custodian such as Equity Trust or Pensco Trust.