Although the 401(k) is today the primary retirement-savings vehicle for many hardworking Americans, it can be easy to forget that the 401(k) is still a relatively new phenomenon.
Consolidation Corner is the Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH) blog, and features the latest articles and bylines from our executives, addressing important retirement savings portability topics.
The problem of missing participants continues to receive a great deal of attention from plan sponsors, industry advocates, regulators and politicians. All parties are keen to address the negative outcomes that result when job-changing 401(k) participants leave behind their accounts with former employers, relocate and fail to update their address.
Research has conclusively demonstrated that retirement savings portability dramatically reduces 401(k) cashout leakage, preserves retirement savings and reduces the incidence of missing participants. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that recent retirement public policy activities are increasingly focused on various aspects of portability.
If current trends continue, approximately 104 million women will cash out almost $800 billion in retirement savings, in today’s dollars, over the next generation.
This eye-popping statistic, presented at a “Women and Retirement Income” roundtable discussion on May 22 sponsored by the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), underscores the importance of financial wellness initiatives by plan sponsors to help women participants avoid cash-outs and instead preserve their 401(k) savings in the retirement system.
Much has been written recently about the preponderance of lost and missing participants. This predicament, one of the many offshoots of the problem of too many small accounts, is an urgent one for sponsors to address given reports that the Department of Labor (DOL) is focusing on their ability to locate missing participants during plan audits.
The top priorities for these plan sponsors in 2018, outlined in December 2017 by Mercer, include:
Following World War II, America saw the rise of a “throwaway” society – consuming, squandering and discarding vast quantities of national resources. Gradually, an awakening occurred as we realized that conservation was a more-sustainable path. Recycling models emerged, and once fully-adopted, they became deeply-ingrained in our psyches and formed a pillar of corporate social responsibility.
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.
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.