People who use professional help to manage their 401(k) plans get higher returns than those who try to figure it out themselves, a recent study shows.
Articles by Patty Kujawa
Six months after it suspended its matching contribution to employees’ 401(k)s, Briggs & Stratton decided it was time to bring the dollars back. The company is part of a trend: Of the 293 U.S. employers that suspended matching contributions last year, 44 percent have already restored the match or intend to restore it by next year, Fidelity found.
Twenty-seven percent of employees have less than $1,000 in savings, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s annual retirement survey. More than half of respondents say their total value of household savings and investments is less than $25,000. The survey results present a strong case for automatically enrolling participants in plans and automatically escalating contribution rates.
The lowest participation is by nonnative-born Hispanic workers. Employers can tackle the problem of lower minority-worker participation through automatic enrollment, automatic escalation of deferral rates and adding more sophisticated financial education.
The market plunge and boomers’ arrival at retirement age have sponsors of defined-contribution plans scrambling to get workers to save more and prevent them from staying in their jobs too long. Three major trends are on employers’ side.
In surveys last year, U.S. workers said that their retirement picture didn’t look all that great. But things may not be as bad as they thought.
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 requires defined-benefit plans to be fully funded by 2011. Because of the financial crisis, Congress eased the law’s original funding requirements in 2008. But each year, companies still need to meet specific funding levels until plans are 100 percent funded in 2011.
For years, mutual funds have been more popular among 401(k) plan sponsors, but the need to reduce plan costs has more companies considering collective trusts.
While there is no clearinghouse tallying all workers’ compensation claims fraud, the National Insurance Crime Bureau says it is a significant contributor to the country’s $30 billion insurance scam problem.
A government/private sector group is spending the next two years and $300,000 building the case that improving the quality of health care for minority employees will have positive results for everyone.