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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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2016 Retirement Preparedness Survey Findings

Abstract: Key themes of this 8-page include: 1) Saving for retirement is getting progressively harder for each generation. 2) Overwhelmed with investment choices, individuals have little understanding about what they are invested in. 3) Far from reaching savings goals, pre-retirees need a plan, but have inertia. 4) Advisors play an important role in bridging the retirement preparedness gap.

Source: Prudential.com, December 2016

Effects of Eligibility and Vesting Policies on Workers' Retirement Savings

Abstract: ERISA allows 401k sponsors to set eligibility and vesting policies for the plans. The GAO was asked to examine 40k plans' use of these policies. Among other objectives, this report examines 1) what is known about the prevalence of these policies and why plans use them, and 2) the potential effects of these policies on workers' retirement savings.

Source: Gao.gov, November 2016

2016 Retirement Plan Adviser Survey

Abstract: Survey questions pertained to the size and scope of advisers' qualified plan business, practice management, compensation and client service, as well as their assessments of investment managers, mutual funds and defined contribution providers. A total of 601 retirement plan advisers complete responses.

Source: Planadviser.com, October 2016

2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey

Abstract: The 2016 edition of PwC's Employee Financial Wellness Survey tracks the financial well-being of full-time employed U.S. adults nationwide. After several years of improvements, this year marks the first time we are seeing a downward slide in many of the key indicators of employee financial wellness. Overall, this year's survey highlights just how fragile the situation is with regard to employees and their personal financial well-being.

Source: Pwc.com, October 2016

One Size Does Not Fit All DC Sponsors

Abstract: This 12-page white paper investigates the role plan sponsors play in participant retirement readiness. It also explores the plan features and services they are considering to ensure that their participants are adequately prepared for retirement.

Source: Marketstrategies.com, October 2016

The Life Cycle Model, Replacement Rates, and Retirement Income Adequacy

Abstract: The Social Security Administration's Office of the Chief Actuary publishes two replacement rate measures, which have great influence in framing discussions of Social Security and retirement policy. From these figures, which state that a typical worker receives a Social Security benefit equal to about 40 percent of his pre-retirement earnings, many have come to conclude that Social Security benefits are inadequate. Others, applying similar methodologies to total retirement incomes, concludes that Americans not saving sufficiently to produce adequately retirement incomes. But these two methods each violate key assumptions of the life cycle model in ways that generate meaningful differences in the results they produce.

Source: Ssrn.com, September 2016

How Does Student Debt Affect Early-Career Retirement Saving?

Abstract: This 38-page paper examines the relationship between student loans and retirement saving behavior by 30-year-old workers. The analysis focuses on participation in an employer-sponsored retirement plan and retirement assets as of age 30.

Source: Bc.edu, September 2016

What Does Consistent Participation in 401k Plans Generate?

Abstract: The average 401k plan account balance of workers who participated consistently in one 401k plan increased significantly over the four-year period ending at year-end 2014, according to this 28-page study just published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Source: Ebri.org, September 2016

Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2016: A Retirement Wake-Up Call

Abstract: The fifth annual Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey finds only slight improvements globally in retirement preparedness since Aegon carried out its first global survey in 2012. This report highlights possible solutions of expanding access to workplace retirement benefits, implementing helpful nudges to save, encouraging habitual saving, offering planning and investment guidance, and facilitating flexible options for transitioning into retirement.

Source: Aegon.com, September 2016

Third Party Administration Buyer's Guide

Abstract: Some say that third-party administrator (TPA) services can surpass what most recordkeepers offer to aid with plan design—and that this is broadening the TPA’s use in the retirement industry. Our first annual PLANSPONSOR Third-Party Administrator Survey provides a detailed snapshot of each TPA respondent, revealing, by its numbers, how it compares with peers in the overall market landscape.

Source: Plansponsor.com, August 2016

17th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey

Abstract: This survey of 4,161 workers reveals striking similarities across all generations of workers in terms of their insecurities about retirement, as well as key differences in their expectations and preparations.

Source: Transamericacenter.org, August 2016

Defined Contribution Plan Participants' Activities, First Quarter 2016

Abstract: This 12-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 27 million employer-based DC retirement plan participant accounts as of March 2016. 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, August 2016

2016 PLANSPONSOR Third-Party Administrator Survey

Abstract: The survey includes TPA firms from the very small to the very large: $600,000 in total retirement plan assets to $54 billion in plan assets, respectively; more than one in six have in excess of 500 plans. Survey participants have offices in all but seven U.S. states, and about one in six is a national firm. Article provides details from the survey data.

Source: Plansponsor.com, July 2016

2016 Defined Contribution Plan Participant Survey

Abstract: This 28-page report discusses research findings, draw implications for the continued evolution of DC plans, and explores what plan sponsors and their industry partners can do to help as many participants as possible achieve a financially secure retirement.

Source: Jpmorgan.com, July 2016

ICI Reports Continued Downward Trend in Mutual Fund Fees in 401k Plans

Abstract: The cost of investing in equity mutual funds through 401k plans fell again in 2015, marking a 31 percent decline since 2000, according to an annual research study that the Investment Company Institute.

Source: Ici.org, July 2016

Paying for the New Retirement: Responsibilities and Challenges for Middle-Income Boomers

Abstract: Boomers are making adjustments to meet the new financial challenges they are facing in retirement. The Boomer experience may provide a cautionary tale for generations to follow. More education, more advice and guidance and ultimately more saving for retirement will be necessary for people to live comfortably in their retirement years. This study report is 36-pages in length.

Source: Centerforasecureretirement.com, July 2016

2016 PLANSPONSOR Recordkeeping Survey

Abstract: PLANSPONSOR's 18th annual Recordkeeping Survey questionnaire was distributed to known providers of full-service and unbundled recordkeeping for both qualified and nonqualified DC plans. The survey data provides insight into each provider's experience, services, and capabilities.

Source: Plansponsor.com, June 2016

Defined Contribution Plan Participants' Activities, 2015

Abstract: Americans continued to save for retirement through defined contribution plans in 2015, according to ICI's latest study of retirement plan savers' actions. The study is based on DC plan recordkeeper data covering more than 26 million participant accounts in employer-based DC plans.

Source: Ici.org, June 2016

The Current State of 401ks: The Employer's Perspective

Abstract: This 45-page report examines the state of retirement plan offerings, automatic enrollment, leakage from retirement savings, differences between part-time and full-time workers and other topics.

Source: Transamericacenter.org, June 2016

Securing Our Financial Future: Recommendations for Retirement Security and Personal Savings

Abstract: Bipartisan Policy Center releases a 152-page report, "Report of the Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings," which forth numerous proposals to improve Americans' retirement security. This report presents a comprehensive package of bipartisan proposals to address six key challenges.

Source: Bipartisanpolicy.org, June 2016

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 Look at Access to Employer-Based Retirement Plans in the Nation's Metropolitan Areas

Abstract: This 16-page report notes that more than 40 percent of full-time private sector workers say they lack access to either a pension or an employer-based retirement savings plan such as a 401k. This retirement plan access varies more among the nation's metropolitan areas than across states as a whole.

Source: Pewtrusts.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

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

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

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

2016 Plansponsor Best in Class 401k Plans

Abstract: Winners of the 2016 Best in Class 401k Plans designation were selected from more than 4,500 plans responding to PLANSPONSOR's 2015 Defined Contribution Survey. 401k plans were evaluated and scored on more than 30 criteria related to plan design, oversight/governance, and participant outcomes. For 2016, we are recognizing 26 Best in Class 401k plans from 8 different recordkeepers.

Source: Plansponsor.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

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

2016 Retirement Confidence Survey

Abstract: The 26th Retirement Confidence Survey (40-pages), the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation, finds that American workers' confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement has maintained its increase after the record lows experienced between 2009 and 2013. However, retiree confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement continued to increase in 2016.

Source: Ebri.org, March 2016

The State of American Retirement

Abstract: The trends exhibited in these figures paint a picture of increasingly inadequate savings and retirement income for successive generations of Americans -- and growing disparities by income, race, ethnicity, education, and marital status. Women, who by some measures are narrowing gaps with men, remain much more vulnerable in retirement due to lower lifetime earnings and longer life expectancies.

Source: Epi.org, March 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

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

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

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

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

2016 Defined Contribution Trends

Abstract: Callan fielded the 2016 Defined Contribution Trends Survey in the fall of 2015. Survey results include responses from 144 plan sponsors, primarily large and mega 401k plans. Highlights key themes and findings from 2015 and expectations for 2016.

Source: Callan.com (registration may be required), January 2016

Simplifying Choices in DC Retirement Plan Design

Abstract: In view of the growth and popularity of DC plans, along with the government's growing attention to retirement plan costs and investment choices provided, it is important to evaluate how people select their plan investments. This paper tracks how employees in a large firm altered their fund allocations when the employer streamlined its pension fund menu, tiering options in an easier-to-understand format.

Source: Tiaa-crefinstitute.org, January 2016

Defined Contribution Plan Profile: A Close Look at 401k Plans

Abstract: This new 74-page study of 401k plans analyzes the prevalence of automatic enrollment, employer contributions, and participant loans in the plans, as well as trends in plan investment options and fees. Study is based on 2013 data.

Source: Ici.org, December 2015

Actionable Insights for Your Mobile Workforce

Abstract: Study on America's mobile workforce, providing insights into participant behaviors regarding retirement savings portability. The study offers plan sponsors with strategies to stem cashouts and to improve retirement outcomes.

Source: 401ktv.com, December 2015

2015 Survey of Defined Contribution Viewpoints

Abstract: This is a 25-page report on the results of a survey of over 400 DC plan sponsors and industry professionals at asset management, recordkeeping and consulting firms. These real-time insights can help inform plan sponsors and others of the potential direction in which the industry may be headed regarding a variety of topics and shed light on changing viewpoints and emerging best practices.

Source: Rocaton.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

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

2015 Wells Fargo Retirement Study

Abstract: On behalf of Wells Fargo, Harris Poll conducted 1,251 telephone interviews of 851 working Americans 40 or older and 400 retired Americans, surveying attitudes and behaviors around planning, saving and investing for retirement. This eight-page document reviews the key findings.

Source: Wellsfargomedia.com, November 2015

2015 Defined Contribution Survey

Abstract: This annnual DC Survey measures and evaluates the satisfaction levels of 401k and other DC providers according to feedback from their plan sponsor clients. Major defined contribution providers are rated in 23 areas of participant/sponsor services. The information collected is intended for plan sponsors to gauge their plans against their peers.

Source: Plansponsor.com, November 2015

The 2015 Retirement Plan Adviser Survey

Abstract: Arguably, retirement plan advisers have a better perspective than their plan sponsor clients about the relative strength of products and services offered by investment and recordkeeping providers. The 2015 Retirement Plan Adviser Survey endeavors to gain insight from the adviser community about how providers and funds are selected, and which are the favorites each year.

Source: Planadviser.com, October 2015

The Real Cost of Fees

Abstract: Based on the findings in this 23-page report, there is a wide range in the cost of fees associated with investment accounts, yet even the lowest average cost represents hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost savings. If the capital currently lost to fees remained invested, retirement savings could increase by an equally significant amount.

Source: Personalcapital.com, October 2015

2015 Trends and Experience in DC Plans Survey

Abstract: With a vested interest in helping workers accumulate sufficient retirement savings, employers have been busy bolstering their DC plan provisions and investment offerings. This report finds that DC plans are changing in rapid ways as employers undertake rigorous reviews to promote more participation, encourage greater savings, and improve investment funds.

Source: Aon.com, October 2015

2015 MassMutual Employee Benefits Security Study

Abstract: This research explores the disconnect between the value employees place on their employer-provided benefits and other aspects of their lives, to understand employees' perceptions of their benefits, and to determine the level of interest in employee benefits and personal finance guidance tools.

Source: Massmutual.com, October 2015

Are 401k Investment Menus Set Solely for Plan Participants?

Abstract: This seven page Center for Retirement Research study found that additions and deletions from the 401k plan investment lineup favor the fund company's own family of funds which adversely affected the retirement income security of participants.

Source: Bc.edu, October 2015

2015 Defined Contribution Trends

Abstract: Fifty-four page survey highlights plan sponsors key themes and expectations for 2015. Results incorporate responses from 144 plan sponsors, primarily large and mega 401k plans.

Source: Callan.com,, September 2015

Survey on Participants Views About Responsible Investing

Abstract: Calvert Investments released the results of a comprehensive study of employer-sponsored defined contribution plan participants (and eligible non-participants) on the subject of responsible investing. The survey explored participants' familiarity with responsible investing and receptivity to the concept.

Source: Calvert.com, September 2015

Global Retirement Survey 2015

Abstract: The 2015 global retirement survey shows that savers are feeling better about the future, but many still lack adequate savings. There’s still important work to be done. In the United States, retirement confidence has more than doubled since 2013. In part, the increase in retirement confidence may be a natural corollary to a general increase in overall consumer confidence.

Source: Ssga.com, September 2015

2015 Gender Gap in Financial Wellness Report

Abstract: Report examined the gender gap as it relates to the current shortfall in retirement savings. Using an example of a median 45-year-old man and woman, the report looks at median incomes, deferral rates, retirement savings, life expectancies, and projected healthcare costs to determine how much each would need to save in order to replace 70 percent of their income in retirement. The report found a 26 percent gap in the savings shortfall and further, a purchasing power gap of 95 percent between men and women in terms of extra dollars needed to fund retirement expenses.

Source: Financialfinesse.com, September 2015

2015 Defined Contribution Benchmarking Survey

Abstract: This 68 page benchmarking survey found that plan sponsors and providers have invested nearly across the board in expanding offerings to engage employees, from automatic enrollment and step-up contributions, to individual financial counseling and mobile transaction processing.

Source: Iscebs.org, September 2015


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