April 15 is just around the corner. While many Americans dread Tax Day, April 15 presents defined contribution plan sponsors with an opportunity to demonstrate their value as fiduciaries, and as financial wellness advocates.
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 this series, I identify five key reasons why an auto portability program serves the best interests of plan participants.
Previously, in Part 1, I examined the dramatically improved participant outcomes that will result from a program of auto portability.
In Part 2, I describe how auto portability, by enhancing and extending automatic rollover programs, represents an enhanced standard of care for participants.
The long-awaited Department of Labor (DOL) guidance on the legal and regulatory framework for auto portability has cleared the way for plan sponsors to further enhance and optimize their automatic rollover programs. By explicitly recognizing auto portability’s potential benefits to retirement savers, the DOL acknowledges that existing ARO programs have flaws which auto portability can fix.
Plan sponsors considering the adoption of auto portability must determine that, by participating in the auto portability program, they are acting prudently and solely in the interests of their plan’s participants and beneficiaries.
Much has been written about America’s retirement-savings shortfall. Much has also been written about one of the major reasons for this shortfall—the lack of technology and operating standards to make seamless plan-to-plan savings portability easy for America’s highly mobile workforce. The cumbersome and costly nature of DIY portability has made prematurely cashing out small-balance 401(k) savings accounts, or stranding them in former employers’ plans, the easiest options for many participants after they change jobs.
“Not having enough emergency savings for unexpected expenses” is the No. 1 financial concern for Millennials and members of Generation X, and the No. 2 financial concern among Baby Boomers, after retirement security. These findings from a PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey released last year shouldn’t surprise members of the retirement services industry, since too many defined contribution plan participants dip into their 401(k) savings—through loans, hardship withdrawals, or cash-outs upon changing jobs—to fund emergency expenses.
With the announcement of the Department of Labor’s recent actions, auto portability has taken center stage in the retirement industry. While auto portability has been well-known to a relatively small group of industry insiders, its recent, widespread coverage in the media has many asking the question “what is auto portability?”
With so many different -- and important -- perspectives on the matter, the best answer will depend on who’s asking the question.
When auto enrollment was widely adopted under the Pension Protection Act of 2006, it was a well-intentioned idea for helping Americans save more for retirement.
But in this case, what seemed like the perfect recipe for increasing retirement savings for hardworking Americans was missing a key ingredient.
A primary responsibility for fiduciaries is to seek out and identify the best available solutions that enable fulfillment of their responsibilities. For plan sponsors tasked with implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of their missing participant program, this can be a difficult task, particularly given the accelerating rate of technological innovation and the virtual explosion of new sources of data available online. In today’s day and age, what is considered a state-of-the-art program today could easily become obsolete tomorrow, rendering a plan’s missing-participant program vulnerable to fiduciary liability.