You don’t need me to remind you that 2020 has been an extraordinary year that many of us would like to forget. The New Year we have been looking forward to for some time is now here.
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.
In January, Alight Solutions released 2020 Hot Topics in Retirement & Financial Wellbeing, a survey of 130 plan sponsors employing 5.5 million workers and highlighting key trends among plan sponsors, including expanding financial wellbeing programs, increasing efforts to help participants bridge the gap between working and retiring, and strengthening programs to locate missing participants.
401(k) plan sponsors know all too well that sunlight – coming in the form of transparent fees and disclosures – is vital to fulfilling their fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of their participants.
No, this article isn’t about the Presidential election. But this year’s election, which took place in the middle of a global pandemic, reminds us that some things are in our control, and some things aren’t.
On Wednesday, 11/4/20 the Broadcast Retirement Network’s Jeff Snyder interviewed Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH) President & CEO Spencer Williams and Alight Solutions’ Vice President & Head of Research Rob Austin to address the 401(k) system’s small account problem – where high levels of cashout leakage in small balance segments perennially robs millions of participants of a timely or comfortable retirement.
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.
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.