With unemployment nearing historic lows, more career opportunity inevitably translates into greater job mobility. That means that more 401(k) participants will be changing jobs and will face important decisions on what to do with their retirement savings.
Consolidation Corner Blog
Consolidation Corner is the Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH) blog, and features the latest articles and bylines from our executives, addressing important retirement savings portability topics.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
For job-changing 401(k) participants with balances greater than $15,000, it was the spring of financial wellness, as the bulk of their retirement savings would remain intact. For less-aristocratic 401(k) savers with balances below $15,000, it was the winter of despair, as most of their savings would be lost on the cashout chopping block or forcibly exiled to a safe harbor IRA, where more savings would perish.
If current trends continue, approximately 104 million women will cash out almost $800 billion in retirement savings, in today’s dollars, over the next generation.
This eye-popping statistic, presented at a “Women and Retirement Income” roundtable discussion on May 22 sponsored by the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), underscores the importance of financial wellness initiatives by plan sponsors to help women participants avoid cash-outs and instead preserve their 401(k) savings in the retirement system.
Much has been written recently about the preponderance of lost and missing participants. This predicament, one of the many offshoots of the problem of too many small accounts, is an urgent one for sponsors to address given reports that the Department of Labor (DOL) is focusing on their ability to locate missing participants during plan audits.
When Ben Franklin coined the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” he wasn’t considering the problem of missing participants, but 401(k) plan sponsors would be wise to heed Ben’s sage advice.
Today, plan sponsors face an explosion of missing participants, driven by the ongoing adoption of auto enrollment and increasing workforce mobility. Their problems are further compounded by the administrative burden required to locate them, combined with a regulatory minefield that offers little guidance and is prone to taking inconsistent enforcement actions.
The top priorities for these plan sponsors in 2018, outlined in December 2017 by Mercer, include:
Over the past six years, there’s been a steady drumbeat pointing the way to increased portability and in-plan consolidation (“roll-ins”) as the next big strategic focus for defined contribution plans.
While this path may soon lead to the widespread adoption of auto portability, a process that automatically rolls in small balances into a participant's new-employer plan, many plan sponsors are already embracing programs that support roll-ins for all participants, regardless of balance size.
Today, Boston Research Technologies (BRT) and Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH) issued a joint press release announcing the key findings from a survey examining the retirement industry’s missing participant problem. The survey, The Mobile Workforce’s Missing Participant Problem, is the first to examine the problem from the perspective of the participant and offers unique insights into its various dimensions.
How are you hoping to improve yourself in 2018?
The most common New Year’s resolutions usually have to do with personal appearance, health, or behavior—losing weight, exercising more, dieting, quitting smoking, etc. Popular polls indicate that many of us are after a slimmer, fitter body for ourselves after each New Year’s Day.
Similarly, defined contribution plan sponsors are likely thinking about how they can make their plans more attractive and streamlined in 2018.