Michael Sanford
Retirement Manager, Americas
  • Plan(s)
    401(k)
  • Total Plan Assets
    $938MM
  • Number of Participants
    3,860
  • Participation Rate
    96%
  • Average Deferral Rate
    11.7%
  • Default Deferral Rate
    4%
  • Default Investment
    BlackRock LifePath Target Date Fund
  • Automatic Enrollment
  • Automatic Escalation
  • Employer Contribution
    100% of 4%
  • Provider(s)
    Recordkeeper, Voya Financial; Adviser, Rocaton Investment Advisors
  • Financial Wellness Educator(s)
    Voya Financial (Retirement Income Plus); Financial Engines


The sponsor is working to raise its 96% participation rate to 100% of employees receiving at least the 4% match.

With 54% of the Refinitiv 401(k) Savings Plan employee population over the age of 50, this sponsor focuses on preparing its near-retirement workforce for the next phase. Refinitiv US LLC—a global provider of financial markets data, with main U.S. offices in Manhattan, plus 16 other offices around the country—has a plan spun off from Thomson Reuters’ 401(k) that covers 3,860 participants and totals $938 million in assets.

Through provider Voya Financial, the plan offers Retirement Income Plus, an optional program for participants 50 and above that provides a snapshot of a person’s retirement readiness along with financial wellness resources including webinars on Social Security and health care costs; one-on-one meetings; and online access to professionals to provide guidance on retirement readiness.

Michael Sanford, retirement manager, Americas, at Refinitiv, is working with the fiduciary committee to create a mandatory, opt-out version of the program for those 50 and older; this would be professionally managed through Voya and provide a glide path to and through retirement.

“The mandatory program is a drawdown strategy, hands-on, with a dedicated adviser to assist with questions and life changes while you’re an employee and when you retire,” he says.

In addition to the Retirement Income Plus program, Voya has a new website, Voya Learn, that offers live sessions on such topics as financial wellness, emergency savings, and saving and spending, says Jay Vinson, strategic relationship manager at Voya. He adds that Voya also scores employees on a financial wellness “scorecard” using several pillars of financial health. “This has existed from Voya since the beginning of this plan,” he says.

Refinitiv’s 401(k) plan has a 96% participation rate, which Sanford considers quite successful, but his goal is to have 100% participation at the 4% company match. Refinitiv is considering a mandatory re-enrollment—with the option to opt out—for employees who aren’t participating or who are saving less than 4%.

The sponsor has also instituted a communication campaign, dubbed “Awareness,” for all employees not participating and for participants not deferring up to the full 4%. This consists of emails, postcards and webinars to encourage employees to start saving for retirement. Sanford says Refinitiv has about 105 participants who defer less than 4% and 98 who aren’t participating at all.

“We got a 70% open rate, and 30% made an adjustment,” Sanford says. “So we’re constantly looking at what we can do to help the participants.”

The sponsor isn’t afraid to be “a little aggressive” in using plan design features, Vinson says. “Sitting at a participation rate in the 90s is not enough for them.”

In addition to automatic enrollment, the plan also has auto-escalation up to 10%. The average deferral rate is nearly 12%, and the average account balance is $217,000. All employees are eligible to participate in the 401(k) plan on the date of hire.

When it comes to the investment lineup, the fiduciary committee has begun assessing possible environmental, social and governance (ESG) candidates to add to its current 13 investment options. The ESG option speaks to how financial institutions are evaluating what they invest in and, at the same time, adopting it internally as a cultural value, says Andrew Perrin, chair, global head of pensions and investments at Refinitiv.

“There’s a very high focus within the company on sustainability and diversity,” he adds.

As far as other near-future plans, Refinitiv is considering adding a student debt repayment program. The sponsor also plans to connect its employees to Voya’s network of financial advisers throughout the U.S. in order to have face-to-face seminars at every location, Vinson says.

“That was kind of born from ‘What else is there? What else can we do?’” Vinson says. “There’s never one silver bullet of an idea to engage folks and help them to, and through, retirement.”

Corie Hengst

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