Plan sponsors intuitively know that an explosion of small-balance 401(k) accounts held by terminated participants can create problems. Unfortunately, few sponsors are clear on the factors that give rise to small accounts, and fewer still understand how they can utilize consolidation programs to solve the problem.
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.
On May 22nd, at a Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) roundtable addressing strategies, choices and decisions for women’s retirement income, important new data was presented that highlights the challenges faced by women in preserving their 401(k) savings when changing jobs – particularly for women with balances less than $5,000.
When Ben Franklin coined the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” he wasn’t considering the problem of missing participants, but 401(k) plan sponsors would be wise to heed Ben’s sage advice.
Today, plan sponsors face an explosion of missing participants, driven by the ongoing adoption of auto enrollment and increasing workforce mobility. Their problems are further compounded by the administrative burden required to locate them, combined with a regulatory minefield that offers little guidance and is prone to taking inconsistent enforcement actions.
Over the past six years, there’s been a steady drumbeat pointing the way to increased portability and in-plan consolidation (“roll-ins”) as the next big strategic focus for defined contribution plans.
While this path may soon lead to the widespread adoption of auto portability, a process that automatically rolls in small balances into a participant's new-employer plan, many plan sponsors are already embracing programs that support roll-ins for all participants, regardless of balance size.
In consolidated testimony before the ERISA Advisory Council on the topic of Participant Plan Transfers and Account Consolidation for the Advancement of Lifetime Plan Participation, EBRI’s Craig Copeland and Retirement Clearinghouse’s Tom Johnson presented “Auto Portability Research & Simulation: Automating Plan-to-Plan Transfers for Small Accounts” – providing the Council with the latest information & research on Auto Portability, as well as describing the present state of plan-to-plan transfers (“roll-ins”).
In his latest article in MarketWatch, posted on New Year’s Eve, RCH President, CEO and RetireMentor Spencer Williams counsels those who switched jobs in 2016 to make their New Year’s resolutions to roll-in all of their retirement savings accounts – not just the account in their most recent prior-employer plan – into their new-employer plan.
As 2016 draws to a close, most observers will reflect upon the events that have dominated retirement industry news coverage: the Fiduciary Rule, the 10-year anniversary of the Pension Protection Act, and the Presidential election. These events will clearly shape plan sponsors’ activities and priorities for the New Year.
In his latest article in MarketWatch, RetireMentor and RCH CEO Spencer Williams gets us into the festive, holiday spirit by showcasing the “miracle” of compound interest. Compound interest is particularly relevant to retirement savers, whose nest eggs will incubate over a career.