If you’re like most homeowners during these dog days of summer, you’re not just basking in the sunshine or swimming in the pool with your family. You also have a fight on your hands—the war against the dandelions that invade and attempt to occupy your entire lawn every year at this time.
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.
If you think of retirement savings as a key part of a healthy retirement, then anyone who has prematurely cashed out 401(k) savings during their working life has suffered a compound fracture that will require several stages of therapy to fully rehabilitate. But a cash-out isn’t the only impediment to a financially secure retirement for these hardworking Americans.
Half a century ago, the global medical community united to wipe out smallpox, an infectious disease that afflicted mankind for millennia. In 1966, the World Health Organization (WHO) established the Smallpox Eradication Programme, which sent Western doctors to vaccinate the populations of nations and communities around the globe where smallpox was still rampant. No place where smallpox cases had been reported, or where the local population was not vaccinated, was overlooked by WHO medical teams, no matter how remote the village or how dangerous the journey.
In the spirit of Financial Literacy Month, retirement plan sponsors are to be commended for their commitment to enhance financial wellness among participants. In fact, 76% of employers offer financial health programs for employees, according to the seventh annual survey on corporate health and well-being conducted by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health® in 2016.
If you’ve ever broken a bone—playing sports, engaging in outdoor activities, or even just from a slip and fall—it doesn’t take long before the pain signals that you need to go see a doctor, and the sooner the better. The friction encountered while moving a retirement savings account from an old-employer plan to a current-employer plan when changing jobs sends similar pain signals through most participants. With the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) indicating that the average participant will have 7.4 jobs in their adult working career, the risk of participants incurring a fracture in their retirement savings is very high.
“So, whose ox are you goring with auto portability?”
This is what a senior, well-respected retirement policy official asked my team at a sit-down meeting in Washington, D.C. Over the course of her long career, she had heard innumerable proposals to correct the savings shortfall in the U.S. retirement system. Many of them had a downside for at least one constituency in the retirement services universe, and she assumed that auto portability had one too.
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes” is a quote often attributed to Mark Twain. The same is true of myths about saving for retirement, and retirement services professionals should take it to heart as we begin 2017.
For more than a year now, we have been working with the research team at the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), Dr. Ricki Ingalls of Texas State University, and Boston Research Technologies to develop the Auto Portability Simulation (APS). The APS is a robust, quantitatively-based simulation that measures the size, characteristics and behaviors of America’s increasingly mobile workforce. The key findings from that work demonstrate the potential to dramatically reduce retirement plan cash-outs by identifying the long-term, systemic benefits of routine and standardized account consolidation at the time of a participant’s job-change—a technology-based innovation called Auto Portability.
It is intuitive to observe that the easiest way for a plan participant to achieve lifetime participation in the U.S. retirement system is to work for the same employer for 40 years or more. But in today’s highly mobile workforce, that rarely happens. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), the average American will change jobs more than seven times during a 40-year working life, indicating that a participant’s average tenure with each employer will be a little over five years. So what can be done to help the vast majority of participants that simply won’t work for one employer for their entire careers?