Claudia Abbott
Benefits and Wellness Director
  • Plan(s)
    401(k)
  • Total Plan Assets
    $55.6MM
  • Number of Participants
    530
  • Participation Rate
    86%
  • Average Deferral Rate
    7.56%
  • Default Deferral Rate
    6%
  • Default Investment
    TDF for those under 55; managed account for those 55 and up
  • Automatic Enrollment
  • Automatic Escalation
  • Employer Contribution
    100% of salaried participants’ first 3% + 20% of their next 3%; maximum 6% match for union members
  • Provider(s)
    Recordkeeper, Empower Retirement; adviser, Fiduciary Advisors, Inc.
  • Financial Wellness Educator(s)
    Empower Retirement


Ninety percent of employees attended on-site and live webinar meetings that were held by the plan to introduce its automatic enrollment feature.

What is perhaps the most interesting feature of food manufacturer AB Mauri Food Inc.’s retirement plan is that it has a dual qualified default investment alternative (QDIA). Workers below age 55 are defaulted into a target-date fund (TDF), while those 55 and up are invested in a managed account.

“Younger employees are automatically enrolled into a target-date fund with a retirement goal of age 65,” says Claudia Abbott, benefits and wellness director at AB Mauri, in St. Louis. “But the company recognizes that, as employees draw nearer to retirement, their retirement planning needs change. So, employees 55 and older are transitioned into Empower Retirement’s My Total Retirement Advisory Services, which provides a personalized approach to their retirement strategy—including saving and investing, spend-down strategies, Social Security optimization and more.”

When introducing this change, the manufacturer launched what Abbott characterizes as “a huge communication campaign. We held meetings at every location for every shift, issued email blasts and directed people to our intranet. We had 90% attendance for our webinar and on-site meetings. We put out more communications than ever before, and the change went over perfectly, without a hitch, and has been very well-received. Normally, when you make a change, at least one person doesn’t like it. We didn’t get even one complaint.”

At the same time, the manufacturer also implemented automatic enrollment at 6% with automatic escalation of 1% up to a 12% contribution cap. Further, the company stretched its 4.5% match for salaried employees, to a 100% contribution on participants’ first 3% deferred and 20% on the next 3%. Union members can receive up to 6% in matching contributions. Both of these contributions are immediately vested.

“Empower Retirement measures success in retirement savings in terms of income replacement, which it projects with its lifetime income score,” Abbott notes. “The average lifetime income score among all Americans participating in workplace retirement savings programs is 64. AB Mauri’s planwide score is 79.”

Due to the results its modern plan design has achieved, AB Mauri “is set to double the automatic contribution and increase rates,” she says. “And we expect to significantly increase our planwide lifetime income score. We’re in a great position to help our workers. Even before we made these changes, we rated higher against all industry benchmarks—and we expect to go even higher.”

Abbott credits her company’s advisers, John Hefle and Todd Grizzle of Fiduciary Advisors, Inc., for their part in the plan’s success. Thanks to their assistance, the investment lineup consists of high-performing, low-cost mutual funds, she says, and last year they helped AB Mauri “implement innovative design features, including the ‘dual QDIA.’”  —Lee Barney

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