Automatic rollovers blog posts


A More-Enlightened Approach to Uncashed Distribution Checks

No retirement plan sponsor likes the idea of dealing with uncashed distribution checks, nor do they wish to draw unwanted regulatory attention or to become embroiled in costly litigation. Unfortunately, many plan sponsors place themselves in precisely that spot, becoming unnecessarily over-burdened with unresolved uncashed checks, while inviting unwanted regulatory scrutiny and/or legal challenges by having flawed uncashed check policies. In his 2/8/24 article in RCH's Consolidation Corner blog, Tom Hawkins lays out a "more-enlightened" approach to the problem of uncashed distribution checks, seeking to minimize their numbers, while simultaneously steering clear of the “red flags” that could land them in hot water.


Focus Shifts to Plan Sponsors as Portability Network Set to Go Live

Writing in the Consolidation Corner blog, RCH's Tom Hawkins describes the coming "shift" that will occur when the Portability Services Network (PSN) goes live at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2023. Describing PSN's network-building achievements to date as "nothing short of phenomenal", Hawkins adds that "integration had proceeded apace" and that "plan sponsors will take center stage as they begin to adopt auto portability and witness its tangible results." Plan sponsor adoption will accelerate as auto portability demonstrates its obvious benefits to plans, to participants and to society at large, where adoption will eventually serve as a "positive indicator of a socially responsible enterprise."


The Future is Brighter for Small-Balance Retirement Accounts

RCH's Tom Hawkins, writing in the Consolidation Corner blog, describes the "brighter future" emerging for small-balance retirement savings accounts. Hawkins maintains that these accounts, which he associates with an increased incidence of sub-optimal participant outcomes, will fare much better in the future due to "large-scale, industry-led action on auto portability, and more recently, proactive steps being taken by leading providers to consolidate legacy small-balance IRAs."


The 401(k) “House-Cleaning” to Come

The increase in the automatic rollover threshold from $5,000 to $7,000, as provided for in section 304 of the SECURE 2.0 legislation, will become effective for mandatory distributions made after December 31, 2023. What will be the impact of these provisions, if fully embraced by plan sponsors? One thing is certain – on both a one-time and ongoing basis, far more terminated participants will be subject to the automatic rollover provisions of their former-employers’ plans. Writing in the RCH Consolidation Corner blog, Tom Hawkins explores the impact of an increased threshold that, when paired with the advent of auto portability and the operational status of the Portability Services Network (PSN), could mean that small balance terminated participants will finally come out on top.


Why DEI and ‘Traditional’ Automatic Rollovers Don’t Mix

When it comes to 401(k) diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, RCH’s Tom Hawkins observes broad support for expanded access and automatic features, since they “are supportive of increasing participation and asset accumulation across all demographics.” No one, writes Hawkins, points to ‘traditional’ automatic rollovers as facilitating DEI goals, as they “penalize the very demographic segments that DEI initiatives strive to uplift.” Hawkins urges plan sponsors to re-tool ‘traditional’ automatic rollover programs to include education and assistance and to incorporate auto portability – delivering more equitable retirement outcomes for under-saved and under-served participants.


How Consultants Can Miss the Mark on 401(k) Automatic Rollovers

401(k) plan consultants have been forceful advocates for the adoption of best practices at leading retirement plan sponsors. However, when it comes to automatic rollover programs, plan consultants sometimes miss the mark, at least in terms of participant outcomes. RCH's Tom Hawkins, writing in the Consolidation Corner blog, makes the case that 401(k) plan consultants should extend their analysis to emphasize those automatic rollover program components that help participants improve their retirement outcomes by avoiding cashouts, moving their retirement savings forward, and keeping their stay in safe harbor IRAs as brief as possible.


Why Missing Participants Are So Misunderstood

Writing in the Consolidation Corner blog, RCH's Tom Hawkins examines the topic of missing participants, which he states: "is a problem that’s ill-defined and poorly understood, and where fundamental misunderstandings exist, inadequate solutions – paired with the prospect of unwanted regulatory attention or audits – can follow." Hawkins asserts that "taking proactive steps to conduct searches, and turning on plan features that promote retirement savings portability are the key steps required to getting off the missing participant treadmill."


Re-Thinking the Automatic Rollover IRA

Selecting an automatic rollover IRA provider used to be easy. Most 401(k) plan sponsors simply accepted the solution offered through their recordkeeper or TPA. Others performed due diligence, using a limited set of criteria including basic fees, investment options and accountholder service. Few, however, considered the grim realities facing terminated participants forced out into safe harbor IRAs, including excessive cashouts, forgotten accounts, hidden fees, and barriers to exit. Now, it's incumbent upon plan sponsors to fundamentally “re-think” these programs, incorporating five new criteria to ensure that automatic rollover IRA programs are fiduciary-friendly, while dramatically improving participants’ retirement outcomes.