Much has been written in this column and elsewhere about the benefits that auto portability, and seamless plan-to-plan portability in general, can provide to millions of retirement-savers across America. As any entrepreneur can testify, it is challenging to initiate a major innovation, and then persevere through all the twists and turns along the road to widespread adoption. Fortunately for everyday Americans saving for retirement, there is already an established blueprint in place for launching a nationwide, private-sector retirement clearinghouse that will enable auto portability.
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.
Much has been written about the proliferation of small accounts in our nation’s retirement system, and the problems that this explosion has created. A primary solution to the small-account quandary that I have frequently advocated in this column is auto portability.
The recent hacking of Equifax, which potentially compromised the security of sensitive information for 143 million Americans, doesn’t just reinforce the importance of cybersecurity. This cyberattack also makes a compelling case for the widespread adoption of auto portability.
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.
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.