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Auto Portability blog posts
In his December 11th article in BenefitsPro (Addressing the Critical Problem of 401(k) Cash Outs), Nick Thornton draws much-needed attention to the magnitude of the 401(k) cash out leakage issue, due to the frictions associated with account portability when plan participants switch jobs. Thornton's article rightly emphasizes the need for automated portability similar to automatic enrollment and deferral increases - to effectively address the cash out problem.
Auto enrollment, codified in law by the Pension Protection Act of 2006, was drafted with the best of intentions to increase Americans' retirement savings but it has had the unintended consequence of impairing plan effectiveness. By proliferating small accounts in plans, auto enrollment has caused a decrease in average account balances throughout the U.S. retirement system. Adding to the urgency of this issue is the rising rate of auto enrollment adoption across defined contribution plans of all sizes, but particularly among larger plans.
Every day, we are reminded that recycling is the responsible thing to do: from the recycling bins we walk by, to the paper we use, and the cans and bottles that we drink from. All of us would agree that conservation of our precious resources is critical, so we gladly pitch in and do our part.
How many of us will be so fortunate as to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan every day of our working careers? Or, for an even more uncommon scenario, how many of us will work for the same company for 30 or 40 years? Yet, as has been amply established by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), those who can raise their hands and respond yes to either of these questions routinely show up in the top decile of savers who are well-prepared for retirement and these participants provide a clear blueprint for retirement-saving success.
WISER Fall Forum to Explore Auto Portability As Solution to Reducing Cash Outs and Preserving 401(k) Assets
On Wednesday, September 30th, the Women's Institute For a Secure Retirement (WISER), in collaboration with Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH), hosts a Forum entitled The Leading Edge - Auto Portability: Solution to Prevent Cash Outs & Preserve 401(k) Assets.
In his September 2nd, 2015 MarketWatch article One Solution to Three Costly Retirement-Saving Mistakes, RCH's CEO Spencer Williams provides insight as to why a majority of Americans are not very confident in their retirement readiness. Three costly mistakes consistently plague retirement savers: 1) leaving 401(k) accounts behind when changing jobs, 2) prematurely cashing out and 3) not informing prior employers' retirement plan record-keepers about address changes.
The mandatory distribution-to-Safe Harbor IRA plan feature as commonly utilized today was conceived in 2001 and launched in 2005 with good intentions, and for valid reasons. A mobile workforce, combined with a lack of retirement savings portability, had created a burgeoning problem for plan sponsors.
Plan sponsors can help themselves and their participants over the long term by rolling balances of $5,000 or less from inactive participants into safe harbor IRAs. However, for various reasons discussed below, many safe harbor IRAs do not live up to their name and could leave sponsors with unexpected fiduciary liability.