COLLECTED WISDOM™ on Studies and Research focused on 401k Plans
This archive contains not only the most current material on the topic, but also older items that are still relevant, provide background, perspective or are germane to the topic.
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This John Hancock report looks at saving and investing behavior -- and progress toward retirement readiness -- over the course of an unprecedented year. Despite obstacles associated with the pandemic, participants held the line with their retirement savings.
Source: Johnhancock.com, March 2021
For most of the 20th century, life expectancy was on the rise. Yet older Americans were retiring at younger and younger ages. That changed in the 1990s. Life expectancy continued to rise, but retirement ages started increasing too. Given the change, Urban Institute researchers wondered whether the dramatic longevity gains experienced by the people who make it to their 50s and 60s could be counted as another reason for the delayed retirement trend. Their evidence suggests that growing lifespans are keeping men over age 55 in the labor force longer and postponing their retirement, particularly in areas with strong job markets and more opportunity.
Source: Bc.edu, March 2021
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 new 36-page report reflects the year-end 2018 update of these data and EBRI and ICI's ongoing research into 401k plan participants' activity.
Source: Ebri.org, March 2021
This report presents the results of an online survey of 1,005 plan participants, between the ages of 25 to 70, employed full-time at a company that has at least 50 employees, and currently contributing to a 401k or 403b plan. It also includes 502 plan sponsors who are employed full-time at a company that has at least 50 employees and offers a 401k or 403b plan.
Source: Tiaa.org, February 2021
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 a portion of 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 2021
If we make it easy to draw down savings during these extremely challenging times, how can we make it even easier to accumulate savings once the hardship is over? This 12-page whitepaper proposes changes to plan design that can boost savings once the economy recovers. It's a subject that's especially important and timely given current economic challenges.
Source: Voya.com, February 2021
Because our world has changed so dramatically, Callan's annual Defined Contribution Survey has evolved to fit the rapidly shifting landscape facing DC plan sponsors. Their 14th annual survey covers the SECURE and CARES Acts, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the key tenets of DC plan management, financial wellness, and health savings accounts.
Source: Callan.com, February 2021
While there has been a lot of discussion about how COVID-related economic shutdowns have affected retirement security, a new paper suggests that things could have been a lot worse. The shutdowns could have worsened the picture for 401k plans if financial markets had collapsed, the recession had led to widespread withdrawals, or more employers had suspended their match. But these things did not happen, according to the report by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
Source: Napa-net.org, February 2021
NEPC's 15th annual Defined Contribution Plan and Fee Survey focuses on measuring financial success for DC plans and participants and benchmarking industry fees. As part of the 2020 survey, it explores how plan sponsors can improve their participants' financial success by using plan features to increase savings rates, professionalize investment decisions, and facilitate the distribution of assets at retirement.
Source: Nepc.com, February 2021
A prior CRR study found that, in 2016, Millennials lagged behind Gen Xers and Late Boomers in retirement preparedness. New data for 2019 show that Millennials are catching up in the labor market and in getting married and buying houses. However, despite also having similar retirement savings, Millennials' huge student debt burden still leaves them well behind prior cohorts in wealth accumulation.
Source: Bc.edu, February 2021
In early 2020, few people could have predicted that COVID-19 would have the everlasting societal impact that it has. Fortunately, despite market pressures, many employers remained steadfastly committed to helping their workers save and plan for retirement. This 32-page report shares the latest trends and changes in employer-sponsored defined benefit and defined contribution plans.
Source: Alight.com, January 2021
PSCA's 63rd Annual Survey found record contribution and participation rates for the third year in a row. More employees had account balances in and contributed to, their plans than ever before, and employers contributed an average of 5.3% of gross annual pay to participants, the highest recorded to date. Plan participants contributed an average of 7.6% of pay in 2019, combined with the 5.3% of companies are pitching in gives an average savings rate of 12.9 percent in 2019.
Source: Psca.org, December 2020
We are approaching a new stage in the evolution of DC while standing in the middle of a heightened fiduciary risk environment. Plan sponsors are facing a crossroad and are asking themselves: How do we manage risk today while planning for tomorrow, and what is our role as DC plans evolve from supplemental savings plans to primary retirement and savings vehicles? Results of the Willis Towers Watson's 2020 U.S. Defined Contribution Plan Sponsor Survey.
Source: Willistowerswatson.com, December 2020
Employers continue to evaluate company stock in light of litigation and single-stock risk as well as its impact on retirement accumulations. Plan sponsor interest surged in response to the 2014 Dudenhoeffer case. This 16-page paper begins with an overview of factors unique to company stock in DC plans. Next, it provides an overview of the characteristics of plan sponsors that actively offer company stock and the nature of company stock restrictions. It then considers two simple regression models, incorporating both participant demographics and plan design features, that examine holdings of company stock. Finally, it concludes with a discussion of our findings and with implications for plan sponsors.
Source: Vanguard.com, December 2020
In contrast to the response during the 2008-09 financial crisis, more than 90 percent of employers will make their retirement plan contributions this year, though smaller organizations are more likely to have suspended or reduced plan contributions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to this 7-page PSCA snapshot survey of retirement plan sponsors. Though most companies are not making changes to plan contributions this year, smaller organizations have been more impacted by current conditions and are thus more likely to have suspended or reduced plan contributions.
Source: Psca.org, December 2020
This report provides data on the percentage of U.S. workers who have access to and who participate in employer-sponsored pension plans. Not all workers who have access to a pension plan at work participate in the plan. About 70% of all U.S. workers have access to employer-sponsored pensions and about 55% of U.S. workers participate in their plans. But the percentage of workers who participate in plans to which they have access differs between DB and DC plans.
Source: Crsreports.congress.gov, December 2020
PSCA conducted a brief survey of 403b plan sponsors in October 2020 to determine how they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic conditions. This is the full 10-page report.
Source: Psca.org, December 2020
This 20-page report covered DC plan participants' activities in the first nine months of 2020. In this period, stock prices declined sharply before recovering. Preliminary data indicate that the commitment to contribution activity continued at the high rate observed in the first nine months of other years. Most DC plan participants stayed the course with their asset allocations despite high stock market volatility at the end of the first quarter of 2020. DC plan participants' loan activity edged down in the third quarter of 2020, perhaps partly reflecting the use of CRDs instead of loans.
Source: Ici.org, November 2020
New research from PGIM sheds light on the use of outsourced chief investment officers by defined contribution plan sponsors. In a divergence of opinion, OCIOs seem to underweight their expertise in implementing institutional-quality structures, indicating that the top reasons for being hired by their clients were the perceived mitigation of fiduciary risk and the plan sponsors' lack of resources.
Source: Pgim.com, October 2020
PSCA and NAPA surveyed plan sponsors and retirement plan advisors (separately) between January 21 and February 21, 2020, regarding current plan menu designs and investment trends. This is a 44-page report.
Source: Psca.org, October 2020
This paper provides an update of a longitudinal analysis of 401k plan participants drawn from the EBRI/ICI 401k database. A few key insights emerge from looking at the 1.9 million consistent participants in the EBRI/ICI 401k database over the eight years from year-end 2010 to year-end 2018.
Source: Ebri.org, October 2020
In all 14 focus groups GAO held with older women, women described some level of anxiety about financial security in retirement. Many expressed concerns about the future of Social Security and Medicare benefits, and the costs of health care and housing. Women in the groups also cited a range of experiences that hindered their retirement security, such as divorce or leaving the workforce before they planned to. Women in all 14 focus groups said their lack of personal finance education negatively affected their ability to plan for retirement.
Source: Gao.gov, September 2020
Owning both a 401k plan and an individual retirement account leads to larger balances, but missed opportunities to contribute and leakage reduce those balances. One-page report.
Source: Ebri.org, September 2020
Addressing the twin retirement challenges of more risk and rising costs, along with the decline in overall retirement savings, will require a concerted societal effort. This 24-page report offers a roadmap to the various hurdles that make retirement security difficult to achieve. Stepping back and viewing the entire picture of the different retirement challenges can help to understand just how much the burden has grown.
Source: Nirsonline.org, September 2020
Many Americans don't have enough savings for a secure retirement and divorce can make it worse if one spouse can't claim some of the other spouse's retirement benefits. A legal tool called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (known as a "QDRO") can be used to establish such a claim. Getting an order can be complex and costly. Many aren't approved, largely because the submitted orders lack the basic information needed for approval. Fees can be unaffordable for people with low incomes. Information from the DOL may be insufficient to facilitate the order process or determine reasonable fees. This GAO report recommends improving the information available.
Source: Gao.gov, September 2020
A new Vanguard survey finds millennials are redefining retirement. This age cohort is challenging traditional norms like retiring at the target age of 65 and are instead aspiring to retire early or pursue a new career after reaching retirement age.
Source: Vanguard.com, August 2020
Employers choose the features to include in their 401k plans. This 88-page study analyzes automatic enrollment, employer contributions, and participant loans outstanding in a sample of more than 60,000 large private-sector 401k plans, typically plans with 100 participants or more in 2017.
Source: Ici.org, August 2020
Plan Sponsors and their advisors consider many factors when evaluating and defining retirement plan design. One of those should be understanding participant sentiments about saving and retirement benefits. Use findings from our 8th national survey to add insight and value in your discussions and deliberations about participant behaviors and plan features.
Source: Americancentury.com, August 2020
At year-end 2019, 401k plan assets totaled $6.4 trillion, with 37 percent invested in equity mutual funds. In 2019, the average expense ratio for equity mutual funds offered in the United States was 1.24 percent. 401k plan participants who invested in equity mutual funds, however, paid about one-third of that amount -- 0.39 percent -- on average. The expense ratios that 401k plan participants incur for investing in mutual funds have declined substantially since 2000. This is a 32-page report.
Source: Ici.org, July 2020
This 6-page report provides a snapshot of initial policy responses related to participant access to DC plans in various global markets as of May 15, 2020. For context, while the coronavirus pandemic has affected 188 countries, the timing and intensity of the pandemic has varied significantly across the world. Country practices and retirement plan systems vary globally. As such, a country's policy decision may not only reflect their stance towards DC plan assets but also whether the country has a robust safety net or other significant sources of guaranteed income.
Source: Dciia.org, July 2020
Defined contribution plan participants are increasingly keeping retirement balances in the plan, and a growing number of plan sponsors are interested in retaining these balances. Information gleaned from focus groups suggests that participants have misperceptions about the value of staying in plan. Some participants do not even know that staying in a plan is an option after retirement. If plan sponsors want to maintain retirees in the plan, they should not keep it a secret. They must engage with participants early and often.
Source: Troweprice.com, June 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, the stock market declined by 35 percent between its February peak and March trough. While the market has largely recovered since then, it remains very volatile and exposes household savings to continued market risk. This 10-page paper documents where the declines occurred and the extent to which retirement accounts are exposed to equity market risk. The first section looks at overall trends in the stock market and household exposure. The second section breaks down the decline in equity values by source. And the third section focuses specifically on retirement assets.
Source: Bc.edu, June 2020
This 83-page paper addresses the question of how leakage should be defined when using tax data. The analysis indicates that penalized distributions, which represent only about half of the taxable distributions received by individuals younger than 55, are a reasonable approximation for leakage. The paper also examines retirement distributions more generally, looking across all age groups.
Source: Irs.gov, June 2020
A woman's path to a secure retirement is filled with obstacles. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges faced by women have further intensified with layoffs, furloughs, or extended periods working from home and balancing job responsibilities with homeschooling children and, possibly, caregiving for an aging parent or loved one. The goal of this research is two-fold: 1) to raise awareness of the retirement risks that women face, and 2) to highlight opportunities for women to take greater control of their finances and their futures.
Source: Transamericacenter.org, June 2020
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 tabulations of administrative tax data published by the IRS to analyze participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Source: Ici.org, May 2020
Defined contribution plan assets are a significant component of Americans' retirement assets, representing more than one-quarter of the total retirement market and about one-tenth of US households' aggregate financial assets at year-end 2019. This 16-page report updates the 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 2019. 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 2020
The survey, conducted by DCIIA's Retirement Research Center, represents the views of 175 defined contribution plan sponsors and is based on year-end 2018 data. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents represent plans with assets greater than $200 million. The remaining 43% of respondents have less than $200 million in plan assets. This report offers observations relative to prior survey findings, where applicable, and provides historical perspectives on how sponsor behaviors and attitudes towards auto features have developed over time.
Source: Dciia.org, April 2020
The study of 403b plans is complicated because plan sponsors span public and private sectors; also, some plans are subject to ERISA and some are not. ERISA 403b plan assets account for nearly half of the estimated total 403b plan assets. This 68-page report analyzes 403b plans covered by ERISA that also file Form 5500 Schedule H in 2016.
Source: Ici.org, April 2020
With the dawn of a new decade, this 52-page report looks at steps women can take to improve their retirement preparedness. The report also sets forward recommendations for employers and governments globally to take an active approach in reducing the retirement preparedness gender gap, paving the way to a more equal future retirement landscape.
Source: Aegon.com, February 2020
Nearly six in 10 employers (57 percent) believe that within the next five years their workers will retire at older ages than today. For many, the very definition of retirement is changing, as bridge jobs, gig work and encore careers replace the traditional notion of a fixed end to one's working life. Those are just a few of the findings from MetLife's new Evolving Retirement Model Study. It finds the traditional model of retirement -- which assumed a fixed career end date and employer-paid benefits -- is being replaced by a more transitional model.
Source: Metlife.com, February 2020
We all know what "retirees" look like: the silver-haired couple strolling on the beach, teeing off on the links or building a birdhouse with the grandkids. But these conventional images of retirement, seen in countless financial-planning brochures, are fast joining the rocking chair in the museum of retirement cliches, along with traditional approaches to retirement planning. This 14-page survey suggests financial advisors and retirement plan sponsors can help consumers redefine retirement with new, engaging planning tools and investment products.
Source: Empower-Retirement.com, February 2020
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, January 2020
Individuals who participate in 401k plans are more confident about their retirement than those who do not participate, according to a recent study focused on financial attitudes and behaviors conducted by T. Rowe Price. The study found that, regardless of income and assets, pre-retirees aged 50 and older who participate in a 401k plan are 16% more likely to be confident about their retirement than those who do not participate.
Source: Troweprice.com, January 2020
The last two years have seen a surge in the adoption of financial wellness programs by employers eager to help employees improve their financial wellbeing. But many employers have yet to evolve one of their core employee benefit -- their retirement savings plan -- to help workers address their greatest financial wellness challenge: generating an adequate and sustainable amount of lifetime income in retirement. While retirement savings plans have undergone two significant evolutions over the last four decades, they still fall short in providing workers with lifetime retirement security. This is an important gap now that DC plans generally are a primary source of participants' retirement income.
Source: Prudential.com, January 2020
Millennials' retirement expectations are similar to previous generations: they hope to retire with adequate income that will last. However, this report by the Insured Retirement Institute finds that these expectations are not well aligned with the retirement planning steps millennials have taken thus far.
Source: Myirionline.org, January 2020
This paper provides an analysis of state-sponsored auto-enrollment plans, and specifically, the plan's default contribution rate. It develops a tractable framework to derive the optimal default contribution rate considering workers' decisions on adhering to the default contribution rate. It suggests the optimal default contribution rate to be 8%.
Source: Upenn.edu, January 2020
With more than a year of experience with the OregonSaves plan, the Employee Benefit Research Institute asked the question: What if OregonSaves were a national program? How would that impact the retirement security of American workers? They further asked how a national version of OregonSaves would compare with nationwide implementation of 401k safe harbor plans among employers who do not currently offer a DB or DC plan. They examined both using EBRI's Retirement Security Projection Model.
Source: Ssrn.com, December 2019
The Compendium provides in-depth perspectives on retirement. This 222-page report offers 30+ key indicators of retirement readiness, preparations and attitudes among workers by employment status (full-time, part-time), generation, gender, household income, level of education, and race/ethnicity.
Source: Transamericacenter.org, December 2019
Defined contribution plan assets are a significant component of Americans' retirement assets, representing 28 percent of the total retirement market and almost one-tenth of US households' aggregate financial assets at the end of the second quarter of 2019. To measure participant-directed changes in DC plans, ICI has been tracking participant activity through recordkeeper surveys since 2008. This 16-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 June 2019.
Source: Ici.org, December 2019
The Plan Sponsor Council of America conducted a survey of 403b plan sponsors in October 2019 to determine their priories for their retirement plan in 2020. The survey also assessed what changes are planned in 2020 to address those priorities. Nearly three hundred 403b plan sponsors responded to the survey, representing a diverse group of organizations. This is the 15-page report on the survey results.
Source: Psca.org, December 2019
In the era of 100-year lives and with the workforce participation rate among those age 65 or older surpassing 20 percent for the first time in more than 50 years, Americans' notion of "normal retirement" is changing. Deloitte's biennial Defined Contribution Benchmarking Survey shows how plan sponsors are working to address increasingly diverse retirement needs.
Source: Deloitte.com, December 2019
How do participants feel about loans, how are they using them, and how are participants affected by plan sponsor decisions related to the loan feature? Addressing the "voice of the participant" -- and what we can learn from these voices -- is the purpose of this 16-page report.
Source: Loaneraser.com, December 2019
Today's women are better educated and enjoy career opportunities that were unimaginable 50 years ago. Despite this progress, women continue to lag behind men in terms of saving and planning for retirement. A woman's path to a secure retirement is filled with obstacles, such as lower pay and time out of the workforce for parenting or caregiving, which can negatively impact her long-term financial situation. The goal of this research is two-fold: 1) to raise awareness of the retirement risks that women are facing, and 2) highlight opportunities for women to take greater control of their finances and their future.
Source: Transamericacenter.org, November 2019
Research has shown that employers' ability to automatically enroll workers into investment defaults within DC plans led to a significant increase in participation rates and a reduction in self-directing participants. However, many studies that plan sponsors, consultants, and investment advisors use to identify best practices for participants were conducted prior to the introduction of the PPA. The potential impact of smaller core investment menus may not have the same effect when most participants are ending up in the default-investment option today. The paper explores the relation between core investment menu size and two key participant investment decisions: the acceptance of the plan's default-investment option, and the efficiency of portfolios among participants who were self-directing their accounts.
Source: Morningstar.com, November 2019
Most workers have 401k/IRA balances at retirement that are substantially below their potential. This 7-page paper explores the reasons for this gap between potential and actual balances. For workers to accumulate substantial retirement savings, they must contribute regularly, keep their money in the account, and maximize after-fee returns. Four aspects of the U.S. retirement system make it difficult to achieve these goals.
Source: Bc.edu, November 2019
This 38-page paper develops a dynamic life cycle model to show how and whether "Rothification" -- that is, taxing 401k contributions rather than payouts -- would alter household saving, investment, and Social Security claiming patterns. The paper shows that these changes differ importantly for low- versus higher-paid workers. It concludes that moving to a system that taxes pension contributions instead of withdrawals will lead to later retirement ages, particularly for the better-educated. It also would reduce work hours and lifetime tax payments and increase wealth and consumption inequality.
Source: Upenn.edu, October 2019
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
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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