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Insights: Research and White Papers

Impact of Student Loan Debt on DC Retirement Plan Participation: Plan Sponsor Perspective

Abstract: The Plan Sponsor Council of America released the results of its 2016 study assessing student loan debt and plan sponsors' response to the perceived notion that student debt affects employees' participation in company retirement plans. Report is 11-pages.

Source: Psca.org, May 2016

A Retirement Wake-Up Call: 2016 Retirement Readiness Survey

Abstract: This 60-page report captures a picture of how ready people are for retirement across the world. The survey trend line from 2012 to 2016 illustrates that many workers are not adequately preparing for their future retirement. While some progress has been made toward achieving greater levels of retirement readiness since 2012, the progress is coming too slowly to ensure that they will achieve the retirement income they will need in later life.

Source: Transamericacenter.org, May 2016

A Close Look at ERISA 403(b) Plans, 2013

Abstract: This just published 60-page report focuses on ERISA 403(b) plans in 2013. It first analyzes 403(b) plans in the DOL's 2013 Form 5500 Research File. Focus then shifts to more than 4,000 audited 403(b) plans in the BrightScope Defined Contribution Plan Database, which have at least $1 million in plan assets and typically 100 participants or more. Detailed findings are highlighted.

Source: Ici.org, May 2016

Advancing Financial Literacy, Capability and Well-Being Among Hispanics

Abstract: Financial literacy and capability are keys to closing the wealth gap that exists among Hispanics, but are often lacking in the Hispanic community. The objective of this report is to inform policies, practices and services that target improvements in financial literacy and capability among Hispanic households.

Source: Tiaainstitute.org, May 2016

DB Principles for the DC Generation

Abstract: With retirement planning becoming a greater concern for baby boomers, generation X and even millennials, awareness of their particular concerns and what to do about them is an important consideration for plan sponsors. This paper explores the topic in-depth.

Source: Bnymellon.com, May 2016

Millennial Women's 401k Balances Are Half of Men's

Abstract: Millennial women are falling behind men when it comes to retirement saving, T. Rowe Price found in a survey. Millennial women are saving an average of 5% of their salary, compared to 7% for men. While this is only slightly below the savings rate of men, perhaps because they are earning much less, their 401k balances are half that of men's.

Source: Planadviser.com, May 2016

Game Changer, Revisited: The Final Conflict of Interest Rules

Abstract: The DOL's new conflict of interest rules represent a sea change for the financial services industry. Any advisor or service provider whose business model depends on variable or indirect compensation, or on the premise that one's investment recommendations don't cross the threshold into fiduciary status, should assume that their business model must change. Pete Swisher goes into great detail in this 18-page paper.

Source: Pentegra.com, May 2016

Benefit Programs Important for Attracting and Retaining Workers

Abstract: Research found small business owners are focusing on developing competitive benefit programs as part of their approach to attracting and retaining their workers. The research findings also uncovered that financial professionals have tremendous influence over small business owners' purchasing decisions. An advisor has 35 times more influence than a supplier representative.

Source: Irionline.org, May 2016

Low Defined Contribution Savings May Pose Challenges

Abstract: Defined contribution plans, in which individuals save for their own retirement, have become the dominant form of retirement plan for U.S. workers. However, not all workers have access to or participate in such plans through their employer. This report focuses on 1) recent trends in DC plan participation and account savings, and 2) how much households could potentially save in DC plans over their careers, and how key individual and employer decisions affect plan saving.

Source: Gao.gov, May 2016

A Compendium of Survey Findings About Today's Retirees

Abstract: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies released "The Current State of Retirement: A Compendium of Findings About American Retirees." The 118-page survey report provides in-depth perspectives on retirees including attitudes about life in retirement, time commitments, living arrangements, and personal finances.

Source: Transamericacenter.org, May 2016

Brand Drives DC Plan Fund Usage

Abstract: Fidelity, Vanguard, American Funds and T. Rowe Price are the four most frequently used mutual fund families by investors in DC retirement plans. The evidence suggests that a stronger brand can help a fund firm get used more often by plan participants, Ignites Retirement Research concludes.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2016

401k Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity

Abstract: Since 1996 the Employee Benefit Research Institute and the Investment Company Institute have been collecting and analyzing data from millions of 401k plan participants on plan asset allocation, account balances, and loan activity. This just released 80-page report reflects the year-end 2014 data.

Source: Ebri.org, April 2016

Trends in Retirement Satisfaction in the United States: Fewer Having a Great Time

Abstract: The cross-sectional results in this study show that the share of respondents reporting "very satisfying" retirements dropped from 60.5 percent in 1998 to 48.6 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the share of respondents reporting "moderately satisfying" and "not at all satisfying" retirements increased from 31.7 percent to 40.9 percent and from 7.9 percent to 10.5 percent, respectively.

Source: Ebri.org, April 2016

What Moves the Retirement Readiness Needle: Quantification of Risk and Evaluation of New Proposals

Abstract: With the United States facing an estimated national retirement savings shortfall of $4.13 trillion, how can more Americans be brought into a retirement savings plan, and how can they be persuaded to save enough to cover simulated costs in retirement? Those questions were explored by a panel of retirement experts in this paper.

Source: Ebri.org, April 2016

Fewer Retirees Having a Great Time

Abstract: Recent data show that, across the board, fewer American retirees say they are "very satisfied" with their retirements, while a growing number of retirees report that they are "not at all satisfied" with their retirements. Results of a new EBRI study.

Source: Ebri.org, April 2016

59% of Retirees Worry About Making Retirement Savings Last

Abstract: More than half (59 per cent) of retirees are worried about making their retirement savings stretch for their remaining years, according to a new survey by Investors Group. Despite the financial worries, 80 per cent of respondents to the survey said retirement is meeting their expectations.

Source: Benefitscanada.com, April 2016

2016 Participant Survey

Abstract: In March, PLANSPONSOR surveyed 1,035 employed adults ages 23 and older regarding their access to and usage of defined contribution plans. Results can help plan sponsors ensure that their DC plan meets the expectations of the participants.

Source: Plansponsor.com, April 2016

Gallup: Most U.S. Investors Happy With Their 401k

Abstract: According to a recent Gallop survey, the vast majority of employed U.S. investors who participate in a 401k view it positively. Nine in 10 investors say they are satisfied with their own 401k plan as a tool for saving for their retirement, including 44% who are "very" satisfied and 47% who are "somewhat" satisfied. Just 9% are somewhat or very dissatisfied. Survey results are summarized.

Source: Gallup.com, April 2016

Considering Trade-Offs Between Short Bond Funds and Institutional Prime Money Market Funds

Abstract: Institutional investors are increasingly considering the trade-offs between money market funds and short-term bond vehicles for the management of their liquidity reserves. This 12-page paper evaluates these trade-offs by integrating both a historical return analysis and forward-looking simulations using the Vanguard Capital Markets Model.

Source: Vanguard.com, April 2016

Trouble Ahead! Baby Boomers' Retirement Outlook on the Decline

Abstract: The Insured Retirement Institute released this 19-page research report that found less than a quarter of Baby Boomers, 24 percent, are confident they will have enough savings to last throughout their retirement years. This is the lowest level since IRI began this research study in 2011. The study also found that this lack of confidence is understandable, given Boomers' readiness for retirement. Only 55 percent of Boomers reported having savings for retirement.

Source: Myirionline.org, April 2016

The Evolution of ERISA Fiduciary Best Practices

Abstract: The defined contribution marketplace and the sophistication of ERISA plan fiduciary has come a long way in recent years. This has resulted in changes in the best practices of those tasked with sponsoring and administering retirement plans governed by ERISA. This article is a summary of some of those best practices.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com, April 2016

Shorter Life Expectancy Reduces Projected Lifetime Benefits for Lower Earners

Abstract: The increase in average life expectancy for older adults in the United States contributes to challenges for retirement planning by the government, employers, and individuals. But life expectancy varies substantially across different groups with significant effects on retirement resources, especially for those with low incomes. In this 61-page report, the GAO examined (1) the implications of increasing life expectancy for retirement planning, and (2) the effect of life expectancy on the retirement resources for different groups, especially those with low incomes.

Source: Gao.gov, April 2016

2015 PLANADVISER Micro Plan Survey

Abstract: Plans with less than $5 million in defined contribution assets qualified as micro plans. PLANADVISER has published the results of its 2015 Micro Plan Survey, including detailed micro industry data, top 10 providers, and the 'best in class' providers.

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2016

No Change in Retirement Assets from 2014 to 2015

Abstract: Total U.S. retirement assets were $24 trillion as of December 31, 2015, up 3% from the end of September and unchanged for the year, according to data from the Investment Company Institute.

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2016

Determining the Reasonableness of Retirement Plan Fees

Abstract: Fees paid for retirement plan investments and services have always been an important consideration for ERISA fiduciaries. However, in recent years these fees have come under increased scrutiny. This 8-page Vanguard paper walks plan sponsors through their fiduciary duties pertaining to fees. The paper discusses a variety of steps and tools to help determine the reasonableness of plan fees.

Source: Vanguard.com, March 2016

Reimagining Retirement for the 'Gig' Economy

Abstract: As a growing number of Americans take part in the so-called "gig economy," in which a single worker may simultaneously fill part-time and freelance positions with multiple employers, reforms are needed to make the retirement-savings system less tied to employers, argues this 12-page white paper.

Source: Rstreet.org, March 2016

Retirement Confidence Stable, But Preparations Still Lag

Abstract: According to this press release on the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey, overall confidence about being able to afford a comfortable retirement has plateaued among American workers and preparations to save for retirement are still lagging.

Source: Ebri.org, March 2016

Assessing Fee Fairness: Characteristics of an Effective Plan Fee Structure

Abstract: This 14-page paper develops a set of four conditions for gauging the effectiveness of fee structures: adequacy, administrative ease, transparency, and fairness. These four standards will help plan sponsors satisfy their fiduciary responsibilities by ensuring administrative fees are reasonable and fairly distributed among participants.

Source: Tiaainstitute.org, March 2016

Whitepaper Released on Auto Enrollment in 401k and 403(b) Plans

Abstract: Paragon Alliance Group has developed a new whitepaper that is designed to provide insight into the pros and cons of auto enrollment, and why it may or may not be suitable for all plan sponsors.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2016

Reshaping Participant Outcomes Through Reenrollment

Abstract: Reenrollment into a low-cost qualified default investment alternative, such as a low-cost target-date series, can rapidly improve diversification and reduce fees for participants -- potentially leading to higher retirement wealth accumulations in the future.

Source: Vanguard.com, March 2016

Sixteen Facts About Women's Retirement Outlook

Abstract: Despite progress, women continue to be at greater risk of not achieving a financially secure retirement than men. These 16 facts aim to raise awareness of retirement risks that women face and highlight opportunities regarding how women can improve their retirement outlook.

Source: Transamericacenter.org, March 2016

Study Shows Wide Misuse of Target-Date Funds

Abstract: A new report by Financial Engines looks at why the majority of participants move away from target-date funds over time. It found that investor overconfidence and a desire for greater diversification -- not lack of understanding -- are behind target-date fund misuse.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2016

Comprehensive Plan to Confront the Retirement Savings Crisis Published

Abstract: Economist Teresa Ghilarducci and Blackstone President Tony James have published their co-authored white paper, "A Comprehensive Plan to Confront the Retirement Savings Crisis," which outlines a deficit-neutral proposal to ensure that all workers can save enough to retire through mandated, individually-owned, and effectively-invested Guaranteed Retirement Accounts.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2016

How Will You Pay Yourself in Retirement? New Research

Abstract: For most people, the decision to retire comes with many considerations, primary among them, "How will I pay for my living expenses after I stop receiving a paycheck?" New research from Ameriprise posed this question to baby boomers and found interesting differences between those who have already retired and those who are still in the workforce.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2016

Employers Are Concerned About Workers' Preparedness, But Perhaps Not Enough

Abstract: BlackRock polled 1,003 participants in DC plans and 200 DC plan sponsors nationwide on a broad range of retirement planning issues and challenges. While 59% of sponsors say the majority of their participants are saving enough to retire with the income they will need, only 28% of the participants surveyed are confident they are saving enough -- and they want their employers help.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, February 2016

Using Investment Menu Design to Improve Participant Outcomes

Abstract: The investment menu structure may be just as important as the actual investment options themselves. Properly done, a well-designed investment menu can direct behaviors and give participants the confidence they need to feel comfortable with their investment decisions.

Source: Strategicbenefitservices.com, February 2016

The Efficacy of Publically-Available Retirement Planning Tools

Abstract: Publically-available retirement planning tools are publicized to aid households in their retirement planning efforts, but households are likely overestimating tool effectiveness. The authors conclude that the advice provided from a majority of these tools is extremely misleading to households, and propose a more systematic approach to tool development by improved choice of input variables.

Source: Ssrn.com, February 2016

Do DC Plans Need to Be Redesigned?

Abstract: The revision of DC plans will come down to how proactive plan sponsors are in creating a sophisticated retirement plan that can be used by participants to adequately save for retirement. This 16-page report is a detailed outline of the statistics found in part one of a three-part research series on the outlook for DC plans.

Source: Seic.com, February 2016

Canadians' Retirement Savings Wholly Inadequate

Abstract: The value of retirement assets of Canadians aged between 55 and 64 without an employer pension is "wholly inadequate" at an overall median value of just $3,000, according to a new report.

Source: Benefitscanada.com, February 2016

How Do Non-Financial Factors Affect Retirement Decisions?

Abstract: Financial factors clearly influence retirement decisions. But numerous studies find that such factors are only a small part of the story. Non-financial considerations clearly contribute to the decision to retire. This paper reviews studies that examine how two types of non-financial factors affect retirement decisions: the worker's on-the-job experience and the allure of retirement activities.

Source: Bc.edu, February 2016

New Guidance on SRIs, What Plan Committees Need to Know

Abstract: Offers insight to managing economically targeted investments. The authors suggest that committees need to know the following when selecting investments that reflect ESG factors: Compare options in the same asset class against the market and consider each alternative using common measures; Understand whether ESG features will affect the expected return; and, Document the assessment that is made and monitor the decision frequently.

Source: Drinkerbiddle.com, February 2016

Private Retirement Benefits in the 21st Century: Achieving Retirement Security

Abstract: In response to concerns about retirement security, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce prepared this 52-page white paper to offer guidelines on initiatives that will bolster the voluntary employment-based retirement benefits system and retirement security for workers.

Source: Uschamber.com, February 2016

American Views on Defined Contribution Plan Saving

Abstract: This survey polled respondents about their views on DC retirement account saving and their confidence in 401k and other DC plan accounts. Survey responses indicated that households value the discipline and investment opportunity that 401k plans represent and that households were largely opposed to changing the tax preferences or investment control in those accounts. Report is 32-pages.

Source: Ici.org, February 2016

Most Target-Date Fund Investors Not Using All-In Approach

Abstract: Most defined contribution participants fail to use target-date funds properly because they invest in other options as well as the target-date funds, said a research report by Voya Investment Management. Only 15% of target-date users put all of their retirement money in these funds in 2015.

Source: Pionline.com, February 2016

Research Uncovers the Benefits of Formal Written Retirement Plans

Abstract: A new LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute study finds that pre-retirees and retirees (ages 55-75 with financial assets of $100,000+) who have a formal written retirement plan are more likely to feel more confident they are saving enough for retirement and more than twice as likely to feel very prepared for retirement than those without one.

Source: Limra.com, February 2016

A Study on the Psychology Behind Leakage of Retirement Plan Assets

Abstract: Survey of 5,000 retirement plan participants sheds light on leakage patterns, as well as on the thought process of job changers who are confronted with the challenge of "rolling in" retirement savings from a former employer.

Source: Dciia.org, February 2016

Why Workers Retire When They Do: A Survey of U.S. Retirees

Abstract: Why do people retire? It's a fairly simple question with what many would suppose is a fairly simple answer. But understanding the nuances of that question and answer becomes more important for employers, partly because the role of employers has changed and partly because the traditional model of full retirement at a fixed date is on the wane.

Source: Towerswatson.com, January 2016

The Participant: Understanding Generation DC

Abstract: Forget Millennials vs. Generation X. This 6-page survey reveals why these groups have more in common than you think, and where real differences present opportunities for engagement.

Source: Ssga.com, January 2016

What Retirement Plan Sponsors Value Most From Financial Advisors

Abstract: This 28-page survey report finds that plan sponsors prefer to work with plan advisors who emphasize employee education, good customer service and reducing plan costs as core to their value proposition. Among those already working with an advisor, fiduciary support trumps cost on this list.

Source: Massmutual.com, January 2016

The New Flexible Retirement

Abstract: This 28-page report illustrates that today's workers are expecting to "transition" into retirement, but face a significant obstacle. Few employers have employment practices to support them. Policymakers, employers, and workers each play a critical role in redefining retirement, retirement benefits, and employment practices to keep step with increases in longevity and the implications of population aging.

Source: Transamericacenter.org, January 2016

Six Ideas for DC Plan Sponsors in 2016

Abstract: This year really is different. The Federal Reserve is hiking rates for the first time in nine years. Inflation is making a comeback, however modest. For defined contribution plan sponsors, these inflection points create an opportunity to potentially improve participant outcomes.

Source: Pimco.com, January 2016

How America Supports Retirement: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Who Benefits

Abstract: This 228-page paper analyzes the benefits of the U.S. retirement system as a whole, including both tax deferral and the Social Security system. It finds that the U.S. retirement system is 'progressiveness' and also addresses two widespread misperceptions about the benefits of tax deferral.

Source: Ici.org, January 2016

RIA Sentiment Survey

Abstract: This is TD Ameritrade's 31-page RIA sentiment survey. Includes RIA views on the markets, the economy, industry trends, ROBO advisors, succession planning, and more.

Source: Q4cdn.com, January 2016

Cerulli Report on Leakage from Retirement Savings

Abstract: Cerulli reports that distributions and defaulted loans in 401k plans outpaced contributions to those plans in 2014, with some $81 billion in outflows reported. The report suggests that employers can take a role to limit plan leakage by placing significant limitations on loans in their plan documents.

Source: Ntsa-net.org, January 2016

Guardian Workplace Benefits Study

Abstract: Guardian announced new findings from the third annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study that outlines how one in three employers now outsource all of their benefits administration, up 20 percent since 2013. Given their reliance on workplace benefits for overall financial preparedness, it's not surprising employees believe that employers have a responsibility to offer core insurance and retirement benefits to workers.

Source: Guardiananytime.com, January 2016

62% of Millennials Have Started Saving for Retirement

Abstract: Almost two-thirds of millennials have started saving for retirement and almost half started before the age of 25, according to a new survey. The survey, conducted by Tangerine, found that millennials also have their sights set high, with 40% of respondents believing they will need more than $1 million saved for retirement.

Source: Benefitscanada.com, January 2016

A Look at Access to Employer-based Retirement Plans and Participation in the States

Abstract: Policymakers have emphasized the need to expand access to what are known as employer-sponsored defined contribution plans, such as 401ks. The ability of employees to contribute directly from their paychecks and the use of features such as automatic enrollment makes the workplace an effective place to encourage saving. Today, only about half of workers participate in a workplace retirement plan, according to this 44-page analysis of data compiled by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Source: Pewtrusts.org, January 2016

Does a Uniform Retirement Age Make Sense?

Abstract: In the face of rising life expectancies, many policy experts argue that today's workers can retire later and still spend the same fraction of their lives in retirement as past generations. But such an argument assumes that all workers, regardless of socioeconomic status, have experienced the same increase in life expectancy. This paper looks at the issue.

Source: Bc.edu, January 2016

Streamlined DC Investment Menu Could Save Participants Millions

Abstract: Researchers with The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania strive to quantify participants' behaviors before and after a fundamental rethinking of the DC plan investment menu.

Source: Plansponsor.com, January 2016

It Is Time to Consider a New Retirement Age

Abstract: An analysis finds the standard retirement age needs to be bumped up more than a few years to prevent the total loss of government-provided retirement income.

Source: Planadviser.com, January 2016

Americans Torn Between Saving for Retirement and Helping Kids

Abstract: According to a recent poll from RBC Wealth Management, 49 percent of Americans place greater importance on helping their children pay for their education than they do on saving for their own retirement.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, December 2015

Retirement Plans Are Not Enough to Meet Workforce's Changing Needs

Abstract: DC plan sponsors are advised to move beyond a retirement focus for their plans and meet the needs of employees. A recent Mercer study shows that in an evolving, volatile market, companies with DC plans should shift to address their employees' broader financial needs.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, December 2015

The Effect of the Current Population Survey Redesign on Retirement-Plan Participation Estimates

Abstract: This 12-page report examines the estimates of employment-based retirement plan participation from both the traditional questionnaire and the redesigned questionnaire used to address the underreporting of income against each other and with the trend in the estimates of retirement plan participation prior to the redesign years.

Source: Ebri.org, December 2015

New Data Shows Unexplainable Drop in Retirement Plan Participation

Abstract: Estimates from the new and redesigned Current Population Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau show a drop in the percentage of Americans who participate in a workplace retirement plan. However, the results raise doubts about the use of CPS data to assess current and future retirement plan coverage policies.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, December 2015

Cash-Outs and Loan Defaults Responsible for Substantial Retirement Asset Leakage

Abstract: According to research from global analytics firm Cerulli Associates, cash-outs and loan defaults are responsible for more than $80 billion in lost retirement assets in 2014.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, December 2015

Investment Returns: Defined Benefit vs. Defined Contribution Plans

Abstract: The supposition is that individuals are not very good at investing their own money and face high fees. The question is whether this supposition is borne out by the facts. That is, are returns on defined contribution plans markedly lower than those on traditional defined benefit plans? This 15-page paper examines that question.

Source: Bc.edu, December 2015

Money Market Reform: Understanding the Impact on DC Plans

Abstract: New SEC rules governing money market funds take effect in October 2016. Discover what these may mean for defined contribution plans.

Source: Jpmorganfunds.com, December 2015

2015 Stable Value Study

Abstract: Stable value funds have played an important role in DC plans for many years. This is the third Stable Value Study that MetLife has commissioned to gain strategic insight into the current marketplace for this capital preservation investment option within DC plans. This is a 27-page document.

Source: Metlife.com, December 2015

What's Important to Clients When Selecting Stable Value Funds

Abstract: There has been some movement toward adding stable value to 401k plans in the past few years, especially among sponsors of smaller plans. Creditworthiness of the provider and fees topped the list of what is important to plan sponsors.

Source: Planadviser.com, December 2015

Understanding Re-Enrollment

Abstract: This 13-page research report explores the disconnect between the value employees place on their employer-provided benefits and other aspects of their lives, and to understand employees' perceptions of their benefits.

Source: Massmutual.com, December 2015

Infographic: Trends in Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

Abstract: Highlights trends in employer-sponsored retirement plan from a resent Hearts & Wallets' study.

Source: Myubiquity.com, December 2015

Empowering Participants -- Plan Distributions and the Plan Sponsor

Abstract: Plan sponsors must understand both governmental regulations and their fiduciary responsibilities in order to help participants leaving employment or retiring who need to make decisions about their retirement plans, according to this white paper.

Source: Dcprovider.com, December 2015

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