Participant Accounts See Little Movement in March

April 15, 2013 ( – Most defined contribution plan participants were content to stay put with their investments in March, according to the Aon Hewitt 401(k) Index.

Transfers averaged 0.026% of total balances daily—just above the trailing 12-month average at 0.025%, and March had only three days with transfer activity above normal total net transfer activity in March was moderate, totaling $345 million or 0.24% of total participant balances.   

However, for the first quarter, total net transfer activity was among the highest quarters on record. In total, $1.19 billion moved into diversified equities, which is the largest quarterly dollar reported by the Aon Hewitt 401(k) Index (1997 inception). As a percent of total participant balances, the quarter totaled 0.88%—the highest since the current bull market began in the second quarter of 2009.  

Net daily transfers favored fixed income funds for 35% of trading days in March compared to 63% in February. Transfers into diversified equities (equity excluding company stock) asset classes totaled $277 million of total flows or 0.20% of total assets, up significantly from 0.06%.

Similar to February, March total net outflows were heavily concentrated among two asset classes: company stock funds, losing $175 million (51%), and bond funds, losing $155 million (45%). In addition, GIC/stable value and international funds lost $10 million (3%) and $4 million (1%), respectively.  

Net inflows for most asset classes were reported this month. The largest inflows were in large U.S. equity funds, which gained $128 million (37%), followed by premixed funds with $108 million (31%) and small U.S. equity with $62 million (18%).  

Another measure of participant sentiment, employee discretionary contributions, shows participants increased their equity allocations to 64.0% in March, up from 63.4% in February. In addition, fueled by the rising market, participants’ overall equity allocation reached 61.8%, compared to 61.1% at the end of February—the highest equity allocation recorded by the Aon Hewitt 401(k) Index in nearly two years.  

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