Is Retirement Plan Leakage Finally Drying Up?

Fewer organizations offering hardship withdrawals, loans

401k, leakage, SHRM, retirementInitial steps have been taken to change behavior.

The high-profile problem of 401k leakage continues to confound, robbing participants of asset accumulation and appreciation and the potential for a secure retirement.

In a possible policy change for more firms going forward, the Society for Human Resource Management found that fewer organizations are offering defined contribution plan hardship withdrawals and loans, at least when compared with five years ago.

However, in a nod to the need for more financial wellness, investment retirement advice offered online also decreased, “while investment retirement advice offered either one-on-one or in a group/classroom was unchanged.”

SHRM’s 2017 Employee Benefits survey also noted that more organizations are permitting conversion of funds in a traditional 401k account into a Roth account compared with 2013, and there has also been an increase in offering an informal phased retirement program.

“Phased retirement program provides a reduced schedule and/or responsibilities prior to retirement, which can help facilitate the transition and transfer of knowledge for both the retiring employee and his or her co-workers,” according to the survey.

Overall, SHRM finds “most organizations offer retirement plans to help employees save and plan for their financial future.”

It notes:

Defined benefit contribution plans were the most common, with 90 percent offering a traditional 401k or similar plan and 55 percent offering a Roth 401k or similar plan.

Three-quarters of organizations (76 percent) provided an employer match for their 401k plans while 40 percent matched Roth 401k contributions.

One-quarter of organizations (24 percent) offered a traditional defined benefit pension plan that was open to all employees, and 11 percent of organizations had a pension plan that was frozen for current employees or not open to new hires.

“Among employees who are planning to retire, there is a common fear of running out of money in retirement,” it adds. “To help provide lifetime income retirement solutions, some organizations are offering an in-plan annuity option (9 percent) or providing assistance for retirees to purchase an out-of-plan annuity with in-plan assets (2 percent) for their traditional 401k, Roth 401k or other defined contribution retirement savings plans.”

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