COLLECTED WISDOM™ on Studies and Research focused on 401k Plans
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Participants provide valuable insights for plan sponsors. The 2019 PLANSPONSOR Participant Survey found that a retirement plan's initial automatic deferral rate plays an important role in what employees save. Twenty-eight percent of plan participants said they accepted the default deferral rate. Perhaps because that rate is typically low, 41% of respondents save 5% or less -- a more sizable group than the 34% last year and 35% in 2017.
Source: Plansponsor.com, October 2019
Retirement is and will continue to be one of the largest growth opportunities for wealth managers, insurers, and asset managers. Recent estimates by the McKinsey Global Institute show retiring and elderly individuals in the developed world will contribute more to global consumption growth through 2030 than will Chinese consumers aged 15 to 59. Not surprisingly, leading firms from across the financial services industries are seeking to tap into this long-term growth opportunity. A 11-page report.
Source: Mckinsey.com, August 2019
Increasing the share of workers who participate in retirement plans has been a primary focus of retirement policy. As the retirement industry and policymakers try to increase participation, it is important to understand which workers currently participate in employer sponsored retirement plans and why certain employers offer, and certain employees desire, compensation in the form of retirement benefits. This 32-page report uses newly available data -- tabulations of administrative tax data published by the IRS Statistics of Income Division -- to analyze participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Source: Ici.org, August 2019
Only 26 percent of the self-employed are "very much" looking forward to retirement according to findings from Self-Employed: Defying and Redefining Retirement, a new study released today by nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. The self-employed are enjoying life. Given the autonomy and flexibility in their work situations, the concept of retirement is less relevant to them and not necessarily something they aspire to. The survey of 755 respondents explores the retirement outlook of individuals who are primarily self-employed.
Source: Transamericacenter.org, July 2019
Retirees with defined contribution plans face a key dilemma: how and when to convert their retirement savings into income in a way that minimizes the risk of outliving their assets without unnecessarily sacrificing their standard of living. Annuities offer one way to resolve this dilemma. This 41-page paper explores legislative and regulatory reforms that could encourage workers to annuitize more of their 401k and other defined contribution balances upon retirement. It proposes changes that would create an appropriately protective fiduciary safe harbor for plan sponsors selecting annuity providers, increase the portability of annuities, and reform the required minimum distribution rules relating to retirement income.
Source: Brookings.edu, July 2019
Vanguard issued its sixth annual "How America Saves: Small Business Edition," a comprehensive assessment of plan design trends and participant savings behavior in small business 401k plans. The new research finds that small business plan participants are benefiting from enhanced plan design features, including professionally managed allocations, which have led to increased plan participation and optimized portfolio construction. Report is 36-pages.
Source: Vanguard.com, July 2019
401k plan participants investing in mutual funds tend to hold lower-cost funds. At year-end 2018, 401k plan assets totaled $5.2 trillion, with 37 percent invested in equity mutual funds. In 2018, the average expense ratio for equity mutual funds offered in the United States was 1.26 percent. 401k plan participants who invested in equity mutual funds, however, paid about one-third of that amount -- 0.41 percent -- on average. The expense ratios that 401k plan participants incur for investing in mutual funds have declined substantially since 2000. This is a 34-page report.
Source: Ici.org, July 2019
This 25-page paper is written specifically for fiduciary advisors and is intended to give a basic overview of different types of stable value products, how to evaluate their key features and what to look out for so a fiduciary advisor can feel confident making specific, due diligent recommendations about stable value products to their clients.
Source: Fi360.com, June 2019
The 18th edition of "How America Saves" delivers a 121-page comprehensive analysis of the retirement savings behavior of 5 million participants in about 1,900 defined contribution retirement plans for which Vanguard provides recordkeeping services. Our data-rich report examines trends in how participants accumulate, manage, and access retirement savings.
Source: Vanguard.com, June 2019
New research from Schwab Retirement Plan Services finds that although 401k participants believe they need $1.7 million, on average, to retire, many are not investing enough to reach that goal. The nationwide survey of 1,000 401k plan participants also reveals the outsized role of the 401k in Americans' financial lives, with most saying it is their only or largest source of retirement savings.
Source: Schwab.com, June 2019
Callan analyzed the practices of asset managers in running their own 401k plans, using U.S. Department of Labor data from 2016 and comparing that dataset to a broader population of 55,000 plans. The 26-page analysis shed light on how the investment management industry, the ultimate stewards of 401k plans, performed on the key issues of participant behavior and investment design in the plans for its own employees.
Source: Callan.com, May 2019
The recent series of bulletins on ESG-related investing issued by the DOL has led to confusion due to a lack of clarity in the language and an inconsistent tone over the course of different administrations. This 8-page paper seeks to provide plan sponsors with a base level of knowledge about sustainable investing and integration, by providing clarification on terminology and focusing on areas that historically have been misperceived.
Source: Dciia.org, May 2019
The use of 401k loans reached a nine-year low of 22.5% in 2018, and continued a steady six-year decline of nearly 10%, according to T. Rowe Price's annual participant data benchmarking report, Reference Point. The report also found that the percentage of participants who took a hardship withdrawal fell for the ninth consecutive year, declining from 1.9% in 2010 to 1.3% in 2018. Meanwhile, both loan balances and the average amount of hardship withdrawals increased.
Source: Troweprice.com, April 2019
Why do some committees generate better investment outcomes than others? Is it because they are just better investors, or are there group dynamics at work that can systematically rob a committee of its ability to make strong decisions? This 25-page paper outlines some fundamentals of building a strong team and maintaining a structure that supports thoughtful decision-making. It also addresses the pitfalls that groups can fall prey to, with a discussion of group dynamics and behavioral economics heuristics that can become issues for investment committees if members are not aware of them.
Source: Arnerichmassena.com, April 2019
The latest research findings from TCRS based on its 2018 survey of American workers. The Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey explores attitudes about retirement and retirement readiness among American workers. What Is "Retirement"? Three Generations Prepare for Older Age highlights differences and similarities among Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.
Source: Transamericacenter.org, April 2019
With an increased focus on retirement income, employers are now turning their attention to how their workers are using their defined contribution plan assets after terminating employment. To help organizations better evaluate the distribution decisions people make when they leave employment, Alight Solutions analyzed the post-termination behavior of more than 2 million DC participants from 2008 - 2017.
Source: Alight.com, March 2019
This 14-page report updates results from ICI's survey of a cross section of recordkeeping firms representing a broad range of DC plans and covering more than 30 million employer-based DC retirement plan participant accounts as of September 2018. The broad scope of the recordkeeper survey provides valuable insights about recent withdrawal, contribution, asset allocation, and loan decisions of participants in DC plans.
Source: Ici.org, February 2019
This report presents survey results that reflect individuals’ responses collected during December 2018. The 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 Americans value the discipline and investment opportunity that 401k plans represent and that individuals were largely opposed to changing the tax preferences or investment control in those accounts. A majority of respondents also affirmed a preference for control of their retirement accounts and opposed proposals to require retirement accounts to be converted into a fair contract promising them income for life from either the government or an insurance company.
Source: Ici.org, February 2019
The 32-page 2019 Hot Topics in Retirement and Financial Wellbeing report is based on an annual survey that Alight Solutions administers to employers in an effort to capture the changes they intend to make to their retirement and financial wellbeing plans in the year ahead. The 2019 version is the 15th installment of the report and comes from the responses of nearly 175 organizations that employ 7.6 million workers. The survey was administered in the fall of 2018.
Source: Alight.com, January 2019
Plan sponsors are changing key governance practices to improve 403b plan performance and outcomes for employees, according to new findings from the latest Plan Sponsor Council of America survey report. The 13-page report highlights that changes are largely in response to litigation surrounding plans, the need to mitigate risk, recommendations from their advisor, and the normal course of plan governance.
Source: Psca.org, December 2018
The demand for financial advice has increased among individuals' major or minor financial objectives, according to this 42-page study of current workers recently conducted by T. Rowe Price. The three of the most cited objectives for which respondents identified a need for advice were related to retirement: saving for retirement outside of your workplace plan (74 percent), saving to fund health care expenses in retirement (74 percent), and saving for retirement through current workplace plans (71 percent).
Source: Troweprice.com, December 2018
John Hancock announced the results of its annual Financial Stress Survey of 1,352 retirement plan participants, revealing a majority of workers (69 percent) are stressed over their finances, costing companies approximately $2,000 per employee. Most respondents (72 percent) admitted to worrying about personal finances while at work, with one-third doing so more than once per week.
Source: Jhrps.com, December 2018
As the 401k commemorates its 40th anniversary, new research from the Plan Sponsor of America finds that employers are contributing an average of 5.1 percent of pay to their employees' 401k accounts, the highest ever recorded in the history of the survey, the longest running of its kind. This rate of contribution, combined with an average savings rate by participants of 7.1 percent, gives a total savings rate of more than 12 percent.
Source: 401khelpcenter.com, December 2018
Taxpayers Generally Comply With Annual Contribution Limits for 401k Plans; Additional Efforts Could Further Improve Compliance
Analysis of IRS records showed that the vast majority of taxpayers are complying with tax laws designed to limit the annual amount of compensation that can be contributed to 401k retirement plans. Nonetheless, two areas in which compliance could be improved were identified: 1) some 401k plans did not prevent taxpayers from exceeding the annual limit, and 2) some taxpayers exceed annual limits when contributing to multiple 401k plans.
Source: Oversight.gov, November 2018
The goal of this 23-page study is to examine the retirement experience of individuals who have been living in retirement for a meaningful amount of time, and develop a deeper understanding of the underpinnings of their retirement security: the risks they have encountered, are worried about, and may face; how well they have prepared, and where their preparations are weak; and finally, how their experience can help guide the preparations of future generations of retirees.
Source: Myirionline.org, November 2018
This 24-page paper provides an annual update of a longitudinal analysis of 401k plan participants drawn from the EBRI/ICI 401k database. Because the annual cross sections cover participants with a wide range of participation experience in 401k plans, meaningful analysis of the potential for 401k participants to accumulate retirement assets must examine the 401k plan accounts of participants who maintained accounts over all of the years being studied (consistent participants). Key findings are detailed.
Source: Ici.org, November 2018
After two years of strong stock market returns, people are significantly more likely to say they are in excellent financial health and ahead of schedule in saving for retirement than they were in 2016. Despite this optimism, however, they also report significantly more stress, especially financially related stress, driven primarily by growing debt. Savings-related benefits like 401ks and health savings accounts help employees feel better about their financial well-being, but the data indicate many either do not fully understand the benefit or have overestimated their success using it.
Source: Lockton.com, October 2018
This 44-page report draws on data about the behaviors of more than four million retirement plan eligible employees. This analysis, in conjunction with key findings from the behavioral finance field, provides useful guidance for how plan sponsors can be effective in helping their employees achieve a more successful retirement.
Source: Wellsfargomedia.com, October 2018
According to Charles Schwab's 10-page SDBA Indicators ReportTM Millennials allocated a larger percentage of their portfolios to ETFs and cash than did other generations during the second quarter of 2018, while mutual funds remained the largest holding in the accounts of all generations.
Source: Schwab.com, September 2018
This 21-page white paper examines trends and the latest studies regarding how retirees spend their savings, and offers suggestions and analysis on potential strategies.
Source: Pentegra.com, September 2018
Organizations that sponsor 403b plans are accelerating adoption of plan automatic features to improve plan design and participant outcomes, according to the 2018 403b Plan Survey from the Plan Sponsor Council of America. The report also confirms more organizations are working with advisors. This year marks the 10th year of the survey and significant trends have emerged over that period.
Source: Psca.org, September 2018
Younger 401k plan participants have large allocations to target-date and other types of balanced funds, according to a new joint study released today by the Investment Company Institute and the Employee Benefit Research Institute. At year-end 2016, 64 percent of 401k participants in their twenties held target-date funds, compared with 45 percent of 401k participants in their sixties.
Source: Ebri.org, September 2018
EBRI and ICI released "401k Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2016." Since 1996, the Employee Benefit Research Institute and the Investment Company Institute have worked together on collecting and analyzing annual data on millions of 401k plan participants' accounts. This report reflects the year-end 2016 update of these data and EBRI's and ICI's ongoing research into 401k plan participants' activity.
Source: Ebri.org, September 2018
This survey of retirement plan participants was conducted to better understand participant financial wellness and factors that contribute to -- or impede -- the ability to become financially well. A total of 12,211 retirement plan participants answered questions about financial wellness, ancillary wellness factors -- such as working with financial professionals -- and education preferences. Report is 12-pages.
Source: Oneamerica.com, August 2018
This online survey of 1,000 401k participants was conducted by Logica Research for Schwab Retirement Plan Services. Survey finds that while American workers are proactive about reaching retirement goals, they could benefit from professional financial help.
Source: Schwab.com, August 2018
A new study from nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies revealed only 16 percent of employers are "very confident" that their employees will be able to achieve a financially secure retirement. The study also illustrates ways that employers are out of sync with workers regarding perceptions and business practices related to older workers and it examines the current state of 401ks and other benefit offerings by company size.
Source: Transamericacenter.org, August 2018
This empirical study was conducted to understand people's perspectives toward retirement and to describe how views differ between people of various characteristics. Using the results of this analysis, financial planners can better address clients' emotional needs, rather than solely focusing on rational financial planning.
Source: Onefpa.org, August 2018
While automatic enrollment in employer retirement plans has been shown to vastly increase plan participation, many employees tend to withdraw some or all of their account balances before retirement – offsetting automatic enrollment’s positive effect. This study gauges how automatic enrollment influenced savings plan loans and withdrawals at a Fortune 500 financial services firm and how pre-retirement withdrawals affected employees’ retirement plan balances over time.
Source: Tiaainstitute.org, July 2018
Small businesses account for 99.7% of all employer firms and more than half of all private-sector employees, according to the Small Business Administration. So how are small businesses preparing their employees enrolled in defined contribution plans for retirement? And how effectively are small-business employees using this benefit? Vanguard addresses questions surrounding small-business retirement behavior in this research.
Source: Vanguard.com, July 2018
The 2018 RIA Benchmarking Study by Charles Schwab is the leading study of its kind in the RIA industry. The Study features insights based on self-reported information on topics such as asset and revenue growth, sources of new clients, products and pricing, staffing, compensation, marketing, technology, and financial performance.
Source: Aboutschwab.com, July 2018
Many retirees are enjoying a secure retirement, but many pre-retirees envision that the "dream retirement" is becoming more elusive. This study explores how well individuals are preparing for retirement and how they are responding to the challenges they face.
Source: Pgim.com, July 2018
T. Rowe Price has released their 10th annual Reference Point benchmarking report (55-pages) of employer-sponsored retirement plans, which is based on the firm's full-service recordkeeping client data for 2017.
Source: Troweprice.com, July 2018
This 40-page paper presents the results of an experiment that is designed to examine how information presentation and complexity impact retirement-savings behavior. The hypothesis is that providing concise information with helpful recommendations would improve choices over providing lengthy and detailed information. However, the data suggest that simplifying the presentation of 401k plan information to employees is unlikely to result in vastly improved retirement-planning choices.
Source: Iza.org, July 2018
This 43-page policy proposal is made up of three parts: The Multiple Employer Plan IRA, an expansion of the Saver’s Credit, and retirement planning resources and courses for college students. Millennials face a myriad of challenges in saving for retirement. The paper discusses the pressure that Social Security faces in coming years, important factors contributing to the current state of millennial retirement, how the gig economy prevents accessibility to tax-advantaged retirement plans, and past efforts to reform the way Americans save for retirement.
Source: Wiserwomen.org, June 2018
Maintaining a 401k plan involves a variety of services, and the costs of these services are generally shared by the plan sponsor and the plan participants. This 32-page report, published in June, 2018, looks at the economics of providing 401k plans including services, fees, and expenses.
Source: Ici.org, June 2018
The data are in, and they tell a powerful story about the state of retirement in America. The 17th edition of How America Saves delves into the retirement savings behavior of 4.6 million participants in defined contribution (DC) retirement plans for which Vanguard provides recordkeeping services. Our data-rich report examines trends in how participants accumulate, manage, and access retirement savings.
Source: Vanguard.com, June 2018
The new research contains in-depth analysis, country comparisons, case studies, and detailed recommendations. It is based on findings from an online survey of 16,000 workers and retirees in 15 countries spanning the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Taken as a whole, the conclusions represent a compelling call to action. It is now time for a new social contract; one in which we don't only take stock of the change taking place around us today, but we also embrace the economic and social realities of tomorrow.
Source: Aegon.com, May 2018
Asian Americans are more concerned about making missteps with their retirement savings in the years just before and just after retirement, yet are more confident and focused about their investments than other retirees and pre-retirees, this new research from MassMutual finds.
Source: Massmutual.com, May 2018
ESG factors have emerged as a way for investors, such as retirement plans, to capture information on potential risks and opportunities that may otherwise not be considered. For example, climate change is expected to have widespread impacts according to a key federal study and may pose significant financial risks for long term investors, such as retirement plans that must manage risk to provide benefits for many years to come. Given the emerging use of ESG factors, GAO was asked to examine how such factors are used by retirement plans in the United States and other countries.
Source: Gao.gov, May 2018
For many survey respondents, the gig economy is replacing how they plan to earn income in retirement: 16 percent plan on having gig economy jobs to supplement their retirement; 12 percent of side-hustlers will keep a side-gig job as their main source of income after retiring from their traditional career; and, one in five full-time giggers say they'll continue to pick up incremental work in the gig economy as their main source of income following "retirement."
Source: Betterment.com, May 2018
This report updates results from ICI's survey of a cross section of recordkeeping firms representing a broad range of DC plans and covering more than 30 million employer-based DC retirement plan participant accounts as of December 2017. The broad scope of the recordkeeper survey provides valuable insights about recent withdrawal, contribution, asset allocation, and loan decisions of participants in these plans.
Source: Ici.org, May 2018
This year's Retirement Confidence Survey finds only a third of retirees very confident in their ability to live comfortably throughout retirement. While this is comparable to last year, retiree confidence in having enough money to cover basic expenses and medical expenses has dropped: 80 percent say they are very/somewhat confident about covering basic expenses this year compared to 85 percent in 2017; and 70 percent say they are very/somewhat confident about covering medical expenses this year vs. 77 percent in 2017.
Source: Ebri.org, April 2018
PIMCO asked the nation's top retirement consultants: How can defined contribution plan participants and sponsors achieve financial security over the long haul? Download the 24-page report here.
Source: Pimco.com, April 2018
Increasing the share of workers who participate in retirement plans has been a primary focus of retirement policy. As the retirement industry and policymakers try to increase participation, it is important to understand which workers currently participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans and why certain employers offer, and certain employees desire, compensation in the form of retirement benefits. This 32-page report uses newly available 2014 data to analyze participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Source: Ici.org, April 2018
Baby boomers -- even the youngest of whom are just a decade or so away from retirement age -- are in large measure unprepared for retirement, having failed both to plan adequately and save enough, according to this 26-page study released by the Insured Retirement Institute.
Source: Myirionline.org, April 2018
To better understand the portability and coverage challenges of the 401k system and to assess possible strategies to improve it, this report presents a three-part analysis. The objective of the report is to assess and present a wide range of available options by examining and summarizing existing proposals and, where relevant, examples from other countries.
Source: Bc.edu, April 2018
With only ten years until the eldest of the cohort turn 65, the majority GenXers believe their savings will cover their basic expenses and allow for leisure and travel in retirement. However, this confidence is misguided as forty percent of GenXers have no retirement savings, an increase of 5 percent from the previous study.
Source: Myirionline.org, March 2018
This 13-page survey on stale address records in employer-sponsored plans was conducted in collaboration with Retirement Clearinghouse. The report is the first of its kind to survey terminated participants themselves about the status of their accounts left behind in former-employer plans.
Source: Rch1.com, March 2018
The last two decades have witnessed a sweeping shift in retirement offerings from large employers. This study takes a historical look at the primary retirement plans offered by current Fortune 500 companies between 1998 and 2017, thus showing how their retirement programs have evolved over the last 20 years.
Source: Towerswatson.com, February 2018
This TIAA Institute study identified the behaviors that influence employees' decisions regarding their retirement plans.. In opt-in plans, efforts to get employees to increase their savings above the default rate are likely to be fruitful if they focus on improving financial literacy and understanding of exponential growth. While in automatic enrollment environments, efforts targeted at procrastination tendencies are likely to be particularly effective.
Source: Tiaainstitute.org, February 2018
Are those without access to an employer-sponsored plan -- those who do not participate in available plans -- preparing for retirement in other ways? Are they prioritizing retirement savings outside of the workplace? This analysis of data from a nationally representative internet survey of private sector workers shows a correlation between access to and participation in workplace-based retirement savings programs and more planning and saving.
Source: Pewtrusts.org, February 2018
This 36-page paper addresses the differences between defined contribution plans in the US and the UK and the lessons that can be learned from these programs. The paper is a high-level overview of the legal, regulatory and policy framework governing DC plans in both jurisdictions. It provides an analysis of the shift away from defined benefit (DB) plans in the US and the UK, to the widespread use of DC plans by both countries as the primary way of providing workplace pensions.
Source: Eversheds-Sutherland.com, February 2018
This survey was conducted by Allianz Global Investors and the Centre for European Economic Research among pension experts in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom on the future of socially responsible investment in pension fund portfolios. The majority of experts surveyed believe the SRI approach will be extended to include asset classes other than equities.
Source: Ssrn.com, February 2018
This report provides a look at exactly how millennial job seekers prioritize the variety of employee benefits that may be offered, as well as what the best practices are for this critical stage of the job hunt. The 14-page report aims to provide a resource for employers who want to better understand what this generation wants -- the millennial mindset -- when looking for a job.
Source: Pentegra.com, February 2018
The survey polled respondents about their views on defined contribution (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 2018
Callan conducted our 11th annual Defined Contribution Trends Survey in the fall of 2017. The survey incorporates responses from 152 plan sponsors, including both Callan clients and other organizations. This 57-page report highlights key themes and findings from 2017 and expectations for 2018.
Source: Callan.com, January 2018
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