New York — April 17
U.S. employers are about to take a more aggressive role with their savings plans to improve the retirement security of their workers, according to survey findings released by Buck Consultants, an ACS company and a human resource and benefits consulting firms.
In its Defined Contribution Plan Trends Survey, Buck Consultants analyzed responses from 255 organizations representing a broad spectrum of American businesses.
Employers overwhelmingly feel an obligation to help workers secure meaningful retirement assets, with 82 percent indicating that providing “retirement income adequacy” was among their highest priorities.
Ninety-one percent of survey respondents provide matching contributions, almost all (97 percent) formally review defined contribution plan investment vehicles on a regular basis, 87 percent provide for catch-up deferrals and many offer a diversified investment portfolio in their plans.
Sixty-two percent of survey respondents also provide a defined benefit plan.
“Plan sponsors recognize simply providing a savings plan, matching contributions and diversified investment choices is not enough to avoid a retirement income crisis for millions of Americans,” said Alan Vorchheimer, principal in Buck’s retirement consulting practice. “Employers that aggressively engage workers to build secure retirements also create a competitive workforce that achieves higher business goals.”
Respondents indicated many plan participants either lack the tools needed to plan for a secure retirement or don’t take advantage of the tools available to them.
As a result, nearly two-thirds of employers will make major changes to their plan design and communications by 2008 to directly engage workers in their personal retirement planning.
Seventy percent of survey respondents will enhance their communications regarding plan provisions, 65 percent will provide additional education on the value of investment diversification and retirement planning and 70 percent have or will introduce an auto-enrollment feature to their plan by 2008.
Employers feel the greatest challenges to increasing the effectiveness of savings plans are:
- Employees don’t pay close enough attention to their retirement income needs (80 percent)
- Low levels of current savings (55 percent)
- Lack of diversification in employees’ investment choices (42 percent)
“Respondents to our survey are meeting these challenges by adopting a more ‘activist’ stance to ensure employees have a variety of resources to plan for their own successful retirement,” Vorchheimer said.
Buck’s survey also analyzes the prevalence of automatic enrollment provisions, the impact of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, current payout options, fiduciary issues, plan fees and Roth plan features.