Auto Portability's Foundational Research
Auto portability is supported by a broad base of empirical research that clearly demonstrates the problems facing American workers (job-changing, systemic friction and 401k cashout leakage) as well as the solution: moving retirement savings forward when participants change jobs.
On 8/15/19, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) published a comprehensive Issue Brief addressing the impact of auto portability on preserving retirement savings lost to 401(k) cashout leakage. Authored by Jack VanDerhei, EBRI's Director of Research and announced in an EBRI press release, the analysis utilizes EBRI's Retirement Savings Projection Model (RSPM) to quantify auto portability's impressive benefits 1) as a standalone policy initiative, 2) for specific demographic segments and 3) in tandem with other policy initiatives that expand access to workplace retirement savings plans. Critically, the Issue Brief also highlights the ongoing severity of the 401(k) cashout leakage problem, which their model estimates at $92.4 billion per year as of 2015, and "representing a serious problem that affects the potential of 401(k) plans to produce adequate income replacement in retirement."
Mercer's Law and Policy Group reports on the finalized prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) obtained by Retirement Clearinghouse from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for the RCH Auto Portability program. The article also addresses the broader regulatory framework, including Advisory Opinion 2018-01A, which identified certain fiduciary responsibilities of plan sponsors and of RCH.
ASPPA Net's John Iekel covers EBRI Research Director Jack VanDerhei's 5/1/19 presentation before the PSCA National Conference, where VanDerhei provided an update on auto portability's benefits, as calculated in EBRI's Retirement Security Projection Model (RSPM). According to Iekel, VanDerhei asserted that "introducing auto-portability for participants who are Gen Xers reduced retirement savings shortfalls for couples regardless of which dies first, and for single people regardless of gender."
Also Featured in NAPA Net (link)
RCH's Tom Hawkins summarizes the April 10th EBRI webinar Trends in Employee Tenure, which offered EBRI’s latest research examining broad employee tenure trends, and the impact that shorter tenure has on retirement savings. The webinar’s presenters included Craig Copeland, EBRI and Spencer Williams, Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH), and was moderated by Stacy Schaus, Schaus Group LLC. In his portion of the presentation, Williams introduced the concept of “synthetic tenure” – whereby enhancing system-wide portability -- particularly for small accounts -- enables participants to preserve their savings through job changes, mirroring the success of EBRI’s longer-tenured, “consistent participation” population.
PLANSPONSOR's Amanda Umpierrez examines the latest research from EBRI revealing decreasing employee tenure, concluding that shorter tenure could adversely impact retirement plan success. Umperriez quotes RCH EVP Neal Ringquist, who ties decreasing tenure to destructive outcomes, such as cashing out, and RCH CEO Spencer Williams, who advocates for immediate plan eligibility and adoption of automatic enrollment provisions. Finally, EBRI's Craig Copeland, author of the research, addresses the beneficial impact of auto portability, stating that “[a]uto-portability will play an increasingly important role because it helps a lot with balance preservation.”
In their March 20th webinar "Achieving Retirement Income Equivalency Between Final-Average-Pay Defined Benefit Plans and Automatic Enrollment 401(k) Plans in the Private Sector", the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) revealed more research supporting the case for auto portability, with their finding that auto portability could dramatically improve defined contribution plan performance for young Millennials.
401kSpecialist's Brian Anderson finds a lot to like about auto portability in EBRI's Issue Brief No. 473, which compares outcomes of participants in 401k plans with auto-enrollment against defined benefit plans. The research, says Anderson, shows "how auto-portability in 401k plans could positively impact the retirement security for millions of job-changing Americans by preventing 401k plan leakage before it can occur." Anderson continues, writing: "[t]he concept of auto-portability is a darling of major retirement industry associations, and it’s not hard to see why."
In his 2/19/19 article in BenefitsPRO, RCH's Tom Hawkins examines new research, authored by EBRI Research Director Jack VanDerhei, Ph.D., comparing the retirement income generated by 401(k) plans with auto enrollment against defined benefit (DB) plans. While EBRI's primary objective was to address growing concern over the relative decline of DB plans, the study also identified significant, incremental benefits of auto portability, adding to a growing body of research from EBRI demonstrating that auto portability increases retirement security for 401(k) participants.