In 2016, world events including Brexit and the U.S. elections drove spikes in 401(k) trading followed by long lulls in activity, according to the Aon Hewitt 401(k) Index.
There were 28 days of above-normal trading activity in 2016, slightly less than the past five and 10-year averages (32 and 35 days, respectively). Nearly one-third of the higher-than normal trading days for the year occurred in the weeks leading up to the U.S. Presidential election.
A net total of 2.13% of balances traded in 2016, slightly higher than the trailing five year average (2.02%). The percentage of assets in target-date funds (TDFs) rose to 24.1% in 2016, up from 23.1% in 2015.
The percentage of assets in company stock continued to decline. Company stock represented 8.7% of total 401(k) assets, down from 9.5% in 2015. After reflecting market movement, contributions and trades, the percentage of balances in equities (65.4%) and fixed income (34.6%) at the end of 2016 remained unchanged from year-end 2015.
“The rise of assets in target-date funds accounts for some of the light-trading in 401(k)s we saw in 2016,” explains Rob Austin, director of retirement research at Aon Hewitt. “While we did see some reaction by 401(k) inve,stors to major events in 2016, it was more measured than what we have seen in prior years. By and large, investors stayed the course and kept their eye on their long-term investment goals.”
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