Benefits

401(k) Participation Rate Higher with Auto Features

By Corie Russell editors@plansponsor.com | May 21, 2012

 May 21, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Combining 401(k) plan features including automatic enrollment, automatic increase and personalized saving/investing advice can significantly increase employee participation rates.

 

According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s 401(k) Contribution Activities Scorecard, plan sponsors using auto enrollment, auto increase and Advice Access—which offers saving and investment advice based on an individual's personal situation and life stage—had a 76% participation rate on average in March 2012 and March 2011. Plans that did not use these services showed a 48% participation rate in March 2011 and a 50% rate the following year.

Plans that use a combination of auto increase and Advise Access had a 52% participation rate in March 2011, and a 54% rate in March 2012. Plans that paired auto enrollment and Advice Access showed a 76% participation rate in March 2011 and a 77% rate in March 2012.

Other statistics from the quarterly Bank of America Merrill Lynch report included:


  •  More than 1.4 million participants are actively contributing to their 401(k) plan.
  •  More than 297,000 employees took a positive savings action in their 401(k) plan accounts in the first quarter of 2012, compared with approximately 291,000 in the first quarter of 2011.
  •  Among plan participants who took some type of savings action during the first quarter of the year, 70% took a positive action (started or increased contributions), versus 30% who took a negative action (stopped or decreased contributions—compared with 75% and 25%, respectively, during the first quarter of 2011.
  •  16% of plans use both auto enrollment and Advice Access, up from 12% in 2011.
  •  12% of plans use both auto enrollment and auto increase, up from 10% in 2011.
  •  9% of plans use auto enrollment, auto increase and Advice Access, up from 7% in 2011.