401(k) Web Use Jumping Dramatically

February 26, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Nearly 70% of those with 401(k) plans have used the Internet to access their accounts, a new survey finds.

According to the latest American Century Internet Adoption Study, that’s up dramatically in the last four years from 43% in 1997 to 68% in 2001. The amount with available online access also increased significantly from 36% in 1996 to 69% last year.

Respondents listed the 401(k) activities or transactions they performed once on the Internet:

  • 73% checked account information,
  • 68% said they checked general plan information,
  • 32% changed their asset allocation,
  • 33% made changes to their payroll deduction, and
  • 28% changed future investment directions

Asked about future Internet usage, 52% said they planned to continue using the Web for 401(k) data while 20% said doing so was “extremely unlikely” for them.

General Investing

The survey found that American investors were not only going online for their 401(k), they are also surfing the Internet for their non-retirement investments as well.

For example, nearly one fourth of those surveyed have conducted an electronic transaction.

The reasons:

  • checking account balances drew 41%,
  • checking a mutual fund share price was the reason for 38%, and
  • downloading information prompted 29% to go online

In general, investors are also less concerned about the Internet’s security and privacy – 26%, down from 74% four years ago.

US investors also think the Web has generally become more reliable with only 4% citing that factor as a concern – down from 14% six years ago.