Auto Portability's Foundational Research
Auto portability is supported by a broad base of empirical research that clearly demonstrates the problems facing American workers (job-changing, systemic friction and 401k cashout leakage) as well as the solution: moving retirement savings forward when participants change jobs.
PLANSPONSOR's Amanda Umpierrez examines the latest research from EBRI revealing decreasing employee tenure, concluding that shorter tenure could adversely impact retirement plan success. Umperriez quotes RCH EVP Neal Ringquist, who ties decreasing tenure to destructive outcomes, such as cashing out, and RCH CEO Spencer Williams, who advocates for immediate plan eligibility and adoption of automatic enrollment provisions. Finally, EBRI's Craig Copeland, author of the research, addresses the beneficial impact of auto portability, stating that “[a]uto-portability will play an increasingly important role because it helps a lot with balance preservation.”
In their March 20th webinar "Achieving Retirement Income Equivalency Between Final-Average-Pay Defined Benefit Plans and Automatic Enrollment 401(k) Plans in the Private Sector", the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) revealed more research supporting the case for auto portability, with their finding that auto portability could dramatically improve defined contribution plan performance for young Millennials.
401kSpecialist's Brian Anderson finds a lot to like about auto portability in EBRI's Issue Brief No. 473, which compares outcomes of participants in 401k plans with auto-enrollment against defined benefit plans. The research, says Anderson, shows "how auto-portability in 401k plans could positively impact the retirement security for millions of job-changing Americans by preventing 401k plan leakage before it can occur." Anderson continues, writing: "[t]he concept of auto-portability is a darling of major retirement industry associations, and it’s not hard to see why."
In his 2/19/19 article in BenefitsPRO, RCH's Tom Hawkins examines new research, authored by EBRI Research Director Jack VanDerhei, Ph.D., comparing the retirement income generated by 401(k) plans with auto enrollment against defined benefit (DB) plans. While EBRI's primary objective was to address growing concern over the relative decline of DB plans, the study also identified significant, incremental benefits of auto portability, adding to a growing body of research from EBRI demonstrating that auto portability increases retirement security for 401(k) participants.
Expanding on research comparing DB plans vs. 401(k) plans with auto enrollment, on 2/14/19 EBRI released an infographic revealing the beneficial effect of auto portability on Milliennials. When auto portability is added to 401(k) plans, Millennials -- both male and female, for all years of eligibility, and for all income quartiles -- experience significant improvements in their 401(k) plan performance, as measured by equivalent break-even DB plan accrual rates. The latest EBRI analysis adds to a considerable body of evidence that auto portability is a leading retirement savings public policy initiative.
New EBRI Research, released 1/17/19, reveals a troubling Retirement Savings Shortfall (RSS) that is significantly higher for Generation X women, including both single females and widows, than for their counterparts. However, EBRI also found that auto portability made a "significant dent in these retirement deficits." According to EBRI, with auto portability "we found at least a double-digit percent reduction for all groups with future years of defined contribution plan eligibility, and for those with 21–30 years of eligibility, we found a 21 percent reduction in deficits for single females and a 31 percent reduction for widows."
PLANSPONSOR's Lee Barney addresses new research released by EBRI, which models the effects of the Automatic Retirement Plan Act of 2017 (ARPA), and then combines ARPA with auto portability. The EBRI research reveals that if ARPA were to be combined with auto portability, the retirement savings shortfall (RSS) would dramatically reduce the $4.3 trillion deficit by $932 billion, or 22.6%.
In his weekly Anecdotal Evidence column entitled "How Much Retooling Does the 401(k) Need?", Retirement Income Journal publisher Kerry Pechter covers two important weekly events -- the ERISA Advisory Council meeting and the EBRI webinar on their Retirement Security Projection Model (RSPM). For the EBRI event, Pechter notes that auto portability is a key public policy initiative in the "EBRI super model" and cites auto portability's benefits as reducing "retirement shortages for ages 35-39 by between 17% and 23%."