Tags: Confident | Employees | Prepared | Retirement

Deloitte: 401(k) Plan Sponsors Fear Employees Unprepared for Retirement

By    |   Tuesday, 07 February 2012 02:05 PM

The news from the retirement-readiness front continues to be a cause for concern.

A total of 84 percent of executives responsible for 401(k) plans say only some or very few employees will be financially prepared for retirement, according to the new annual 401(k) Benchmarking Survey from Deloitte, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS).

"From this survey, we've learned that for the past several years Americans have not been saving and investing enough for retirement," said Stacy Sandler, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, in a prepared statement.

"Rising healthcare costs and dropping 401(k) balances have taken their toll on employees. Those factors, combined with record levels of personal debt, high unemployment and low levels of personal savings continue to paint a highly concerning picture of retirement readiness."

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It's not like plan sponsors aren't doing their part to stoke participation. Nearly half of plan sponsors are offering features that automatically increase participants' contribution levels. Yet, 64 percent of plan sponsors report that fewer than 10 percent of participants take advantage of this opportunity.

While compared to the 2010 survey, the average participant account balance has been flat or slightly down, there is some good news. Only 15 percent of respondents surveyed say less than half their employees participate in a 401(k) plan.

The majority of plan sponsors reported the average age of those who are saving is between 41 and 50, representing a slight (4 percent) increase from 2010. Employers are embracing auto enrollment, which studies have shown increases participation and savings. According to the survey, auto enrollment continues to grow; 56 percent of 401(k) plans include this feature, up 7 percent from 2010.

The Department of Labor's regulations requiring regular communications (disclosures) to every 401(k) plan participant kick in this year. Plan providers and plan sponsors must deliver the first round of these disclosures in 2012.

"There are a number of tools to encourage and increase employee participation. The new guidelines will make even more information available, assuming employees are meeting the necessary requirements," ISCEBS President Sandra Wood said in a prepared statement.

"Hopefully, with an improving economy and this additional education, we will see an increase in 401(k) balances. While the 401(k) was not meant to be the sole source of retirement funds, most of us do view it as our future primary source of income, and we need to make sure we can save enough to be ready for retirement."

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Tuesday, 07 February 2012 02:05 PM
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