In the 1960’s, counter-culture guru Timothy Leary urged a generation to “turn on, tune in and drop out.” It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t take his advice….at least not the “drop out” part!
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.
As I wrote in a previous article, 401(k) automated portability is an idea whose time has come. To achieve that vision, how will we get from the present state to full automation of the plan-to-plan roll-in process?
This article, as well as the video below, offers readers a roadmap for the progression from ‘tired’ to ‘wired’ and finally, to the ‘inspired’ state that will eventually characterize 401(k) roll-ins.
It’s no secret that interest rates have been at historically low levels for quite some time, but the recent announcement by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicates that rates will stay near zero for the foreseeable future. Chairman Powell stated in his address last month that the Fed would tolerate above-2% inflation instead of attempting to preemptively control inflation by raising interest rates.
French author and poet Victor Hugo observed: “nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
In theory at least, plan-to-plan portability has always been a feature of our 401(k) system. In practice, it’s been completely impractical for all but a hardy few. The idea of automating 401(k) portability was the holy grail, a ‘moonshot’ generally believed to be impossible…until now.
During the COVID-19 crisis, massive job losses combined with economic hardship and relaxed restrictions on withdrawals have created the conditions for a perfect storm of 401(k) cashout leakage. Unfortunately, this storm may soon gain more strength, when a surge in end-of-year 401(k) plan terminations could trigger a new flood of cashouts, as participants are forced to leave their former employers’ plans.
Researchers realize that long-term retirement planning is not a natural act for most 401(k) plan participants. Consequently, important 401(k) plan features have evolved (ex. – auto enrollment, auto escalation, QDIA funds, etc.) to overcome the mis-match and to promote saving for retirement. Many of these features work spectacularly well – but only for as long as participants are actively participating in that plan.
It’s bad enough that more than 50 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment benefits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. But in addition to the disruption, financial hardship, and uncertainty that unemployed Americans (and their families) are experiencing right now, this crisis also threatens their financial security during retirement.
When the dust finally settles from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a cinch that the nation’s retirement deficit will have widened significantly, due in large measure to a flood of 401(k) cashout leakage, which will increase significantly as a result of the crisis.