Retirement plan portability blog posts


401(k) Portability in Four Movements

RCH's Tom Hawkins examines the experience of a very large (250,000+ participants) 401(k) plan sponsor that has been highly successful in delivering improved participant outcomes by incrementally adopting a full program of retirement savings portability. Looking at four distinct five-year periods that coincided with increasing levels of portability and improved participant outcomes, Hawkins writes that "there’s no finer example of those [improved] outcomes than the multi-year, real-world experience of this plan sponsor, where thousands of participants increased their prospects for a timely and comfortable retirement."


Addressing the Achilles’ Heel of Auto IRA Programs

Writing in the RCH Consolidation Corner blog, Tom Hawkins offers his view that state-based Auto IRA programs, despite their potential size and strength, suffer from an obvious Achilles’ heel: a lack of retirement savings portability. Hawkins writes: "Without addressing their portability problem, Auto IRA programs could expand, but may never reach their full potential, housing large numbers of churning, small-balance accounts. However, with adequate support for portability both into and out of these programs, they could dramatically increase the odds that they deliver on their promise of building incremental retirement wealth for millions of Americans."


Key Portability Finding Located in EBRI’s Retirement Confidence Survey

RCH's Tom Hawkins digs into EBRI's 2022 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) and finds an interesting and valuable finding not referenced in the organization’s initial report, officially released to the public on Thursday, April 28th. In an excerpt of a report available to survey partners, the RCS has found that a plurality of job-changing 401(k) plan participants favor automatic plan-to-plan portability over consolidating their savings to an IRA, or to leaving their savings behind in their former employer’s plan. This result comes on the heels of EBRI’s 2021 survey, which found that nearly 9 in 10 participants believed that auto portability would be valuable to them, and Hawkins believes "others -- including the Department of Labor – will find 401(k) participants’ strong preference for plan-to-plan portability compelling."


Towards a Sustainable and “Greener” 401(k) System

RCH’s Tom Hawkins, writing in RCH’s Consolidation Corner blog, reacts to the DOL’s 2/14/22 Request for Information (RFI) seeking comment on ways to “protect life savings and pensions from threats of climate-related financial risk.” In his piece, Hawkins contends that our retirement system itself has significant sustainability problems that are more financially material to future retirees than climate change. Hawkins urges action to address the 401(k) system’s inefficiency and waste, which could “produce more of the ‘green’ that will matter to future retirees.” Hawkins notes the findings of a recent Brookings Institution report on the problem of small retirement accounts, which recommends improvements in “combining accounts” and includes support for auto portability.


Auto Portability Featured in ERISA Advisory Council Report

Writing in the Consolidation Corner blog, RCH’s Tom Hawkins reports on the release of the ERISA Advisory Council’s latest report – “Gaps in Retirement Savings Based on Race, Ethnicity and Gender.” In that report, auto portability was specifically referenced multiple times in testimony by Cindy Hounsell, President of WISER, and the final report included a recommendation to “study the feasibility of a national portability system” – more commonly and accurately known as auto portability. Hawkins found the EAC’s recommendation “remarkable given the fact that it emanated from a diverse group of 14 industry experts holding a wide range of opinions on practically any topic.”


The ‘Great Resignation’ Screams for Improved Retirement-Savings Portability

RCH President and CEO Spencer Williams, writing in the RCH Consolidation Corner blog, breaks down the phenomenon known as The Great Resignation. Williams makes a compelling case that -- for defined contribution plans -- seamless plan-to-plan portability, including auto portability, are absolutely vital to preserving affected participants' retirement savings, and in ensuring that their retirement savings balances are moved forward when they re-enter the workforce.


Kennedy Townsend: Solving Portability and Cashout Leakage are a Key DOL Priority

On 12/6/21, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor for Retirement, served as the keynote speaker at EBRI's 90th Public Policy Forum, and outlined the big-picture, retirement-focused priorities of the DOL. One of the DOL's three priorities is the issue of portability and leakage. RCH's Tom Hawkins examines Townsend's remarks to her EBRI audience, which revealed that she has a clear grasp of the magnitude of the cashout leakage problem, as well as its most-promising solution – enabling plan-to-plan portability.


A Brief History of Auto Portability

Auto portability is a new “automatic” plan feature rapidly gaining acceptance by large defined contribution recordkeepers. While the feature is relatively new, it’s tempting to view auto portability as an “overnight success.” In fact, auto portability has been a long time in the making. In his latest Consolidation Corner article, as well as in an embedded video, RCH's Tom Hawkins examines a “brief history” of auto portability.