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Consolidation Corner Blog
Consolidation Corner is the Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH) blog, and features the latest articles and bylines from our executives, addressing important retirement savings portability topics.
Five Tips for Documenting Missing Participant Searches
If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Opinions are split on this weighty philosophical matter, but a more-definitive answer to another question may surprise you. If a search for a missing participant is not properly documented, is it a diligent search? To regulatory authorities who may scrutinize a plan sponsor’s search efforts, the answer is decidedly “no.” For a regulator to consider a search to be diligent, it must be well-documented, and to do otherwise can result in audits, penalties and increased fiduciary risk. In his latest piece in RCH's Consolidation Corner blog, Tom Hawkins offers readers five tips that will help them better-document their missing participant searches.
As Time Passes, The Gains Become Harder
RCH's Tom Hawkins, writing in the Consolidation Corner blog, observes that our nearly 45 year-old defined contribution system may face diminishing returns as it tries to generate future growth, and should focus on quality and efficiency as it simultaneously expands access. Using fitness as an analogy, Hawkins offers a "workout plan" for the DC system, including plugging leakage through increased portability and emergency savings, while fostering increased retirement savings consolidation to avoid an explosion in small accounts. When combined with expanded access initiatives, these measures can dramatically increase Americans' retirement security, over and above expanding access alone.
Highway Through the 'Danger Zone'
Writing in the Consolidation Corner blog, RCH's Tom Hawkins notes that the issue of 401(k) cashout leakage is "once again in the news, with the publication of an alarming study by academics, as well as new data from Fidelity Investments." Hawkins goes on to cite "compelling real-world data that supports the efficacy of retirement savings portability in dramatically reducing unnecessary cashout leakage" -- representing "a much-needed highway through the ‘danger zone’ of unnecessary cashout leakage, increasing retirement security for millions of job-changing 401(k) participants."
Financial Literacy Can Help Close the Minority Wealth Gap for Retirement Savings
In observance of Financial Literacy Month, RCH and PSN President & CEO Spencer Williams offers his perspective on how “members of the retirement services industry have an opportunity to pause and think about how they can help empower more people to achieve a financially secure retirement.” Williams notes that plan sponsors and recordkeepers have a vital role in preventing premature 401(k) cashouts via education about their detrimental effects and through the adoption of auto portability “which can enable them to transport and consolidate their accounts instead.”
A Renaissance for Auto Enrollment
Writing in the RCH Consolidation Corner blog, Tom Hawkins examines the past, present and potential future of automatic enrollment, the popular 401(k) plan feature that has made great strides since 2007, but has faced headwinds in achieving adoption in high-turnover enterprises. Now, thanks to a SECURE 2.0 mandate for new plans, along with the retirement industry's embrace of auto portability, auto enrollment may soon undergo a "renaissance" and enter its final phase of growth, delivering disproportionate benefits to under-saved and under-served workers, including minorities, women and those with lower incomes.
The Important Task of Determining Participants’ Life Status
Determining retirement plan participants’ life status is an important, albeit uncomfortable task for plan sponsors. The cost of not knowing participants’ life status, or worse, in getting it wrong – can be significant – for the participants, for their beneficiaries and for the plan itself. RCH's Tom Hawkins, writing in the RCH Consolidation Corner blog, examines the challenges facing plan sponsors in determining life status and identifies three proactive strategies for timely and accurate monitoring of changes.
Dialing Up the Intensity of Missing Participant Searches
Writing in RCH’s Consolidation Corner blog, Tom Hawkins helps plan sponsors understand how and when they should increase the intensity of their missing participant searches. When it comes to locating missing retirement plan participants, Hawkins notes that “there’s no substitute for an effective electronic, or ‘e-search.’ However, retirement plan sponsors will inevitably encounter scenarios where periodic e-searches alone will not suffice.” Hawkins provides plan sponsors with six actionable steps to increase search intensity and offers tips on how to minimize the cost & effort associated with missing participants.
The Big Shift Towards Auto Portability
RCH's Tom Hawkins, writing in the Consolidation Corner blog, asks readers if they've noticed the recent "big shift" towards auto portability. Hawkins writes: "[f]or those accustomed to a glacial pace of change in the world of retirement, you could be forgiven if you’ve missed two very recent, tectonic shifts toward the system-wide adoption of auto portability" occurring in rapid succession in the fourth quarter of 2022. The formation of the Portability Services Network (PSN) in October, quickly followed by SECURE 2.0 legislation that included important auto portability provisions, were both "unprecedented actions" which will continue to reverberate in the retirement industry. "The 'big shift'", Hawkins concludes, "won't be completed overnight, but it's already well underway, and will proceed with a pace that could take many more by surprise."