Auto portability is a new “automatic” plan feature that is rapidly gaining acceptance by large defined contribution recordkeepers serving almost 10 million participants. While the feature is relatively new, it has received a great deal of attention in the media and has also been the beneficiary of definitive regulatory guidance, promulgated by the Department of Labor (DOL).
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 a 9/13/21 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) webinar (The Impact of Proposed Legislative Changes on Retirement Income Adequacy), EBRI Research Director Jack VanDerhei presented an analysis of pending legislative changes, including automatic contribution plans and arrangements (ACPAs), paired with a refundable saver’s credit.
Concurrent with the COVID-19 pandemic, our elected representatives have been grappling with the issue of wealth disparities between America’s white and minority workers. Commendably, there has been bipartisan support in Washington, DC for measures to assist those who are historically under-served or under-saved in our national system for accumulating and incubating retirement savings.
At first glance, some retirement savings public policies can seem like a sure thing, particularly when they’re based solely upon the benefits that would directly result. However, in the real world, these “first order” effects are inevitably followed by “second order” effects, which can sometimes be antithetical to the policy’s original intent.
During testimony in a July 28th hearing held by the Senate Finance Committee (Building on Bipartisan Retirement Legislation: How Can Congress Help?), Aliya Robinson, Senior Vice President of Retirement and Compensation Policy for the ERISA Advisory Committee (ERIC), twice voiced her support for auto portability, the new plan feature that automatically moves small balances to the new employer’s plan when participants change jobs.
Most agree – automatic rollover programs can help plan sponsors deal with problems associated with small-balance accounts, including:
- High levels of missing participants
- Increased administrative costs and workload
- Increased recordkeeping fees
- Lower average account balances
When auto portability becomes ubiquitous in America’s 401(k) system, it will herald 100% fully automated, end-to-end portability for all small-balance job-changers.
The Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021, nicknamed the “SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act 2.0,” was passed unanimously by the House Ways and Means Committee, and many expect the bill to pass the full House of Representatives.
For consenting 401(k) participants, it seems that “happy endings” are possible.
New, compelling data from an ongoing program of portability for small-balance 401(k) job-changers illustrates the effectiveness and appeal of seamless portability, revealing broader implications for auto portability and for all job-changing 401(k) participants, regardless of balance.