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Key Retirement, College, and Health Savings Trends


DRESHER, PA, November 30, 2016 -- Ascensus, the nation's largest retirement and college savings services provider and a leading administrator of health savings accounts (HSAs), has launched pulse.ascensus.com. This site highlights the leading savings trends across Ascensus' platform, revealing the "pulse" of the retirement, college savings, and HSA industries.

Ascensus, which provides recordkeeping and administrative services for nearly seven million people across the country, analyzed data from its 40,000 retirement plans, 3.8 million 529 college savings accounts, and 200,000 HSAs. The following trends were identified within each area.

Retirement Trends

Automatic plan design features are driving higher enrollment rates. Plans with automatic enrollment features see an average participation rate of 78 percent, nine percent higher than participation in plans without automatic enrollment. Plans that combine automatic enrollment and automatic increase have an average participation rate of 81 percent.1

As automatic features become more prevalent, a majority of Millennials entering the workforce are enrolled in their employer's plan and begin saving earlier in their career. If they continue to proactively manage their savings strategy, this generation could be in a much better position to fund a comfortable retirement by the time they reach retirement age than those at retirement age today.

Online capabilities continue to gain traction and promote smarter saving. Ninety percent of new clients onboarded in 2015 opted to enroll employees online. Additionally, online-based retirement calculators are still being used and promote better savings habits. Twenty-nine percent of participants who used the Ascensus online retirement calculator started saving immediately following its use at a nine percent deferral rate.2

College Savings Trends

Most 529 savers contribute in small increments to meet their goals. Sixty-two percent of individual contributions were for $100 or less and 13 percent were for less than $200. Only five percent of contributions were for more than $1,000. This activity dispels the notion that 529s are expensive to fund and proves that every dollar helps in contributing to college costs.1

The majority of account holders are parents of school-aged children. The 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 age groups hold 63.4 percent of 529 assets. Eight percent of account holders are Millennials, which suggests college debt has had an impact on their generation and that they are actively planning for their future children's college education.2

Parents are enlisting the help of other family members and friends in their savings efforts. More family members are getting involved in the savings process via Ascensus College Savings' Ugift program. From 2014 to 2015, total contributions to plans on the Ascensus College Savings platform grew by 64 percent. Gifting has increased nearly three-fold (299 percent) since 2012.1

Health Savings Trends

HSAs are becoming increasingly popular among all age groups. The number of overall HSA accounts increased 22 percent in 2015, with 16.7 million open accounts. Similarly, the number of assets in these accounts also rose steadily to $30.3 billion, a 16.7 percent increase year over year. Current projections show this growth continuing and the HSA industry reaching $50 billion in assets by 2018.3

HSAs are favored among savers at or near retirement. Savers over age 55 account for 34 percent of the health savings assets on the Ascensus platform, suggesting that more savers are leveraging HSAs as a tool to increase overall retirement savings. Additionally, savers over 65 are realizing the value of investing in HSAs, with the highest average in health savings of over $3,400.1

"Ascensus remains committed to helping Americans save for life's most important milestones, and we strive to stay in tune with the trends impacting the markets in which we specialize," said Bob Guillocheau, CEO and president of Ascensus. "The overarching takeaway from our research points to an increased use of 401k, 529, and HSA vehicles, which is a testament to an ongoing dedication to saving for the future. The data we've analyzed will be incredibly helpful to advisors in guiding individuals and families to meet their goals."

For additional trends and insights from Ascensus, visit http://pulse.ascensus.com.

About Ascensus

Ascensus is the largest independent retirement and college savings services provider in the United States, helping nearly 7 million Americans save for the future. With more than 35 years of experience, the firm partners with financial institutions to offer tailored solutions that meet the needs of financial professionals, employers, and individuals. Ascensus specializes in recordkeeping, administrative, and program management services, supporting over 40,000 retirement plans and over 3.8 million 529 college savings accounts. It also administers more than 1.5 million IRAs and health savings accounts. For more information about Ascensus, visit www.ascensus.com.

View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/ascensus. For the latest company news, follow @AscensusInc on Twitter.

For more information about 529 plans managed or administered by Ascensus College Savings, call 1-877-529-2980 or visit www.ascensuscollegesavings.com.

1 Ascensus platform, as of December 31, 2015.
2 Ascensus platform, as of June 30, 2016.
3 2015 Year-End HSA Market Statistics & Trends. Devenir Research. February 17, 2016.


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