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?
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.
Hey, plan sponsors: Imagine for a moment that your active participants are Tom Cruise from Mission: Impossible (or Barbara Bain, Peter Graves and Martin Landau, for those of us who remember the classic TV series).
Have you ever received a letter with the notice “Time Sensitive Material! Open Immediately!” boldly splashed across the outside of the envelope, only to sigh with disappointment with what’s on the inside? While the disappointment of false advertising so often seems to be the case with “junk mail,” the warning turns out to be true when we examine the behaviors of retirement plan participants who have recently changed jobs.
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 the wake of the Fiduciary Rule, providers of all stripes are broadly reevaluating their strategies for the participant and asset retention that is essential to growing their retirement plan businesses. Over the past two decades, providers have primarily looked to capture IRA rollovers as a means to grow retirement assets. The Department of Labor’s new Fiduciary Rule creates challenges to that model. However, there is another, largely untapped, pool of assets within providers’ reach that can fuel growth—premature cash-outs. Auto portability, and portability solutions in general, represent a new and unique way to tap that potential source of growth.
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.
Cash out leakage – the premature withdrawal of retirement savings for non-retirement expenses – is a persistent problem in the retirement industry, and growing more pervasive as employee mobility increases.
When the Auto Portability Simulation (APS) model was recently unveiled at EBRI’s 78th Policy Forum, a lot of attention was paid to the “marquee” numbers, and rightly so. I’m referring here to the $154 billion reduction in cashout leakage, as well as the $115 billion increase in plan-to-plan roll-ins that occur under the adoption of Auto Portability.
First, let’s review the definition of “leakage.” If we think of total 401(k) savings as a bucket of water, “leakage” refers to those retirement savings that, like water in a leaky bucket, are withdrawn from the U.S. retirement system every year. There are three holes in the bucket: cash-outs at the point of job change, hardship withdrawals, and loan defaults. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, one of these holes is much bigger than the other two combined—nearly 89% of all leakage is attributed to cash-outs that occur when a participant changes jobs. Hardship withdrawals and loan defaults together account for the remaining 11%.