Sponsors of active retirement plans are increasingly challenged by the problem of missing participants, and the difficulties they face in performing diligent searches. After all, ensuring that plan participants (or their beneficiaries) receive the benefits they’re owed is a sponsor’s primary fiduciary responsibility.
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.
Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH) has released a new video “Addressing the Problem of Missing Participants.” The video integrates new research findings from the March 2018 study “The Mobile Workforce’s Missing Participant Problem” and provides viewers with the most-complete and factual summary of the problem, including:
In November of 2015, Congress enacted the Federal Civil Monetary Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act to apply inflation adjustments to various penalties defined under the Federal Civil Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990. One of those penalties was the $10 per employee penalty for failure to furnish reports to certain former participants and beneficiaries or maintain records. The new penalty, as published in the Federal Register (Table C), is now $28 per employee, effective August 1, 2016.
Whenever I am meeting with a plan sponsor, TPA or recordkeeper for the first time, I ask about returned mail related to missing participants; and almost every time I get…“the look”. The look and/or eye roll that instantly says that returned mail is definitely a problem. The entire retirement industry is all-too-familiar with returned mail related to missing participants. In addition to the money wasted on materials and mailing costs, missing participants create administrative burdens and increase the plan’s fiduciary liability risk. So, what’s a fiduciary to do?
The Case for Automatically Moving Mandatory Distributions Forward
The mandatory distribution-to-Safe Harbor IRA plan feature as commonly utilized today was conceived in 2001 and launched in 2005 with good intentions, and for valid reasons. A mobile workforce, combined with a lack of retirement savings portability, had created a burgeoning problem for plan sponsors: an explosion of small-balance (less than $5,000) accounts left “stranded” in-plan, resulting in rampant cashouts, missing participants, uncashed distribution checks and the like. These problems only accelerated with the widespread adoption of auto enrollment, beginning in 2009.
"Do You Feel Lucky 401(k) Saver? Do You?"
Collaborating with Retirement Clearinghouse, Boston Research Technologies completed groundbreaking research earlier this year on the mobile workforce and the job changer’s attitudes and behavior regarding their 401(k) accounts during job transition. When asked what these participants did with their prior employer 401(k) accounts, the majority of respondents indicated they left their balances behind with 53% of Millennials, the most mobile age cohort, indicating they had left at least one retirement account with their prior employer.