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Every Dollar Saved for Retirement Matters -- So Save More By Avoiding Cash-Outs & Consolidating 401(k) Accounts
RCH Founder, President & CEO Spencer Williams examines the implications of a study from Boston College's Center for Retirement Research, finding that the youngest Baby Boomers, with less access to defined benefit (DB) plans than their predecessors, are drawing down their 401(k)-based retirement savings at much faster rates, with many poised to run out of retirement savings by age 85. These findings underscore the need to preserve more 401(k) savings for younger generations, and according to Williams, the best way to do that is "to consolidate 401(k) savings accounts.....and to avoid making any premature cash-outs." Sponsors, states Williams, "can....help participants save more for retirement, so they don’t outlive their savings, by adopting auto portability.
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."
EBRI Research Reveals Auto Portability’s Massive Incremental Benefits to Pending Legislation
In a 9/13/21 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) webinar (The Impact of Proposed Legislative Changes on Retirement Income Adequacy), EBRI Research Director Jack VanDerhei presented an analysis of pending legislative changes, including automatic contribution plans and arrangements (ACPAs), paired with a refundable saver’s credit. Unsurprisingly, the benefits for these policy initiatives were quite large. However, what was truly surprising was the sheer magnitude of incremental benefits delivered by the addition of auto portability, significantly paring retirement shortfalls for 35–39-year-olds, across all race and ethnicity categories.
A Big Problem: Another Leakage Study Reaches the Same Conclusion
RCH’s Tom Hawkins examines a retirement savings leakage study from the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan committee of the United States Congress. Released with little fanfare on 4/26/21, the study confirms the findings of earlier research on cashout leakage – namely, that cashout leakage is a big problem, is driven by job changing, and is exacerbated by "forced distributions and [a lack of] portability of plans.”
The Case for Auto Portability Gets Stronger
The case for auto portability, the new 401(k) plan default feature that automatically transfers small-balance retirement savings when participants change jobs, has always been strong. Now, with the April 22nd release of EBRI’s 31st Annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), the case has grown even stronger. with nearly 9 in 10 plan participants expressing their preference for the auto portability feature.
Consolidating the Gains from a Program of Retirement Savings Portability
Following on to the 2013 study by Boston Research Group (now Boston Research Technologies), a new study released by Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH) revisits a mega plan sponsor’s ongoing experience with a program of 401(k) retirement savings portability, and finds that not only have the benefits of the original program persisted, they’ve grown, with plan participants continuing to realize significant, measurable benefits.
New Research on Locating Missing Participants Augments DOL Guidance
On 1/26/21, Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH) released a study that advances the art and science of locating missing 401(k) plan participants. The study – Improving the Effectiveness of Electronic Missing Participant Searches – comes on the heels of U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) guidance on the topic and is highly-useful for plan sponsors who utilize electronic searches, or “e-Searches” -- as they are referenced in the study.
The Explosion of Small-Balance IRAs
In his latest post in RCH's Consolidation Corner, RCH's Tom Hawkins examines EBRI's 10/1/20 Fast Facts - Losing Ground Safely: Small IRAs’ Large Stake in Money - which offers new insight into the magnitude of a small-balance IRA “explosion” being fueled by automatic rollovers, as well as the sub-optimal retirement outcomes they produce. EBRI's new information provides yet another data point in favor of 401(k) consolidation via auto portability and could serve to inform future regulatory guidance by expanding auto portability’s mandate to consolidate these previously “stranded” safe harbor IRAs back into our 401(k) system.