Two weeks ago, I authored an article applauding the American Benefits Council for their October 2nd, 2017 letter to the Department of Labor (DOL), which clearly identified the root causes of missing participants: a highly-mobile workforce and a lack of retirement savings portability. Extending the Council’s insight, I maintained that what’s really “missing” in our defined contribution system are initiatives that move retirement savings forward when participants change jobs, such as auto portability. When implemented, these initiatives could serve to dramatically decrease the overall incidence of missing participants.
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.
On October 2nd, 2017, the American Benefits Council delivered a letter to the Department of Labor (DoL), urging the DoL to act on the problem of unresponsive or missing participants, an issue that has proven to be a significant point-of-pain for plan sponsors.
It’s generally accepted that the small-balance accounts of terminated 401(k) plan participants have been a problem for plan sponsors, resulting in increased plan costs, fiduciary risk and other ancillary problems, such as missing participants and uncashed distribution checks.
Now, based on new information from EBRI and other sources, we’re learning that small accounts are a large and growing problem for active participants as well.
As we marked the 47th annual Earth Day on April 22nd, we were once again reminded of the need to protect our environment. This heightened awareness is testament to how far Americans have come in both recognizing and curbing the wasteful, destructive behaviors that emerged in the decades following World War II. Those excesses have given rise to conservation and environmentalism, and were heralded by the first Earth Day in 1970.
Today, many Americans are hard-pressed to set aside enough savings for a timely or comfortable retirement. The factors most-often cited as driving the coming “retirement crisis” include longer life expectancies, rising healthcare costs and stagnant incomes. The African-American community faces these same challenges plus other economic headwinds, but with larger hurdles to overcome to secure a comfortable retirement.
Over the past year, the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule has been highly-visible, presenting major ramifications for the retirement industry and looming large on the radar screens of retirement services providers.
The underlying rationale for the rule, as stated by the Obama administration in an April 6, 2016 press briefing, was to save retirement investors $17 billion per year in lost retirement savings that result from conflicts of interest in retirement advice. Certainly, anything that protects $17 billion in retirement savings is a worthy goal, if it helps more Americans meet their retirement income needs.
However, there’s a larger hole in our retirement system – cash-out leakage – that inflicts far greater harm to American retirement savers, yet this threat continues to fly beneath our collective radar.
The pace of change in today’s world is faster than ever -- and accelerating. Consider the vast change witnessed by today’s centenarians over the course of their lives – moving from the horse-and-buggy to aviation, moon landings, the Internet and smartphones.
On February 3rd, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses, released Securing America’s Retirement, their legislative roadmap aimed at strengthening the U.S. retirement system.
The Chamber’s goals are admirable.
According to the recently released 2016 Willis Towers Watson U.S. Retirement Governance Survey, a major trend in retirement plan governance is the growing concern employers have for employees’ retirement benefit adequacy and financial well-being. To address this concern, sponsors indicated plans to increase monitoring of participant behaviors, using metrics such as plan participation and contribution rates, as well as carefully tracking the performance of their plans’ investment managers.
In his 6/30/16 MarketWatch article, RCH President and CEO Spencer Williams suggests an inter-generational dialogue on the pitfalls to avoid when saving for retirement.