Although defined contribution plan recordkeepers and sponsors have made considerable progress helping participants retain savings through reduced fees over the past decade, job-changing participants’ 401(k) savings account balances remain in a state of dangerous limbo, as participants often succumb to the temptation of cashing out. EBRI reports that at least 4.5 million—or 40%—of job-changing participants cash out $92.4 billion in 401(k) savings from the U.S. retirement system every year.
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.
Every year, our nation’s retirement system loses $92 billion in savings because 401(k) plan participants prematurely cash out their accounts when they change jobs. This is the most recent estimate from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), and while this finding affects all American workers, minorities are hit hardest.
Although the financial wellness of employees has emerged as a top priority for employers in recent years, too many workers are still struggling to improve their financial health.
Much has been written in the media, including this column, about the increase in mobility of today’s American workforce.
Fifteen years ago, when safe-harbor IRAs were first proposed as a destination for small, stranded 401(k) accounts that can be automatically rolled out of plans, then-U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor Ann L. Combs spelled out what these investment vehicles were supposed to accomplish.
401(k) account cash-outs remain a potent threat to Americans’ retirement-readiness and by all accounts the U.S. Department of Labor agrees, having issued its final Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) for auto portability at the end of July.
The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019, passed by the House of Representatives on May 23, has the potential to make a positive impact on Americans’ retirement readiness. One of the bill’s key provisions involves removing restrictions on open multiple employer plans (MEPs), which would make it less costly for small businesses to offer retirement savings plans to employees.
When evaluating their defined contribution plans, plan sponsors understandably look at standard benchmarks such as rate of participation, average deferral percentage, and average account balance. However, given the highly mobile nature of today’s American workforce, sponsors should also consider tracking the average percentage of retirement savings that participants retain during their job tenure, and when they leave to join another employer.
All companies that manage personal consumer data, regardless of where they are based or what industry they are part of, are right to be concerned about cybersecurity. The scope and scale of cyberattacks continue to increase around the world, as last year’s breach compromising 50 million Facebook users demonstrated.
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.