Participants Look to Employers for Advice

September 23, 2002 ( - Retirement plan participants are looking to their employer to provide more education, guidance, and financial planning, a new survey found.

According to the CIGNA Retirement & Investment Services survey, workplace investors are none too happy with the current plan information flow from their company. In fact, only a third of employees would award their employer an “A” grade while nearly four in ten would give the employer a “C.”

A majority, 55%, think their employers generally could do a better job of responding to questions about retirement planning.

In terms of what they’d like from their company’s benefits/HR officials:

  • 89% would welcome personalized financial planning advice (specific information on investment decision making)
  • 83% would like their employers to offer more investment education and information tailored to meet personal employee needs
  • 82% think their employers would do well to offer more information about managing stock purchase plans or stock options
  • 65% would value workplace-based college funding programs (529 plans).

The general context of participants’ call for employers’ stepped up education and advance offerings is that eight of ten respondents vow to take a more active role in their workplace investments in the future, according to the survey

Strategic Shifts

Some 58% plan to change their investment strategies if their retirement portfolio balance is lower at the end of 2002 than it was at the beginning of the year – an increase of more than 10% from responses to a similar survey question a year ago.

Among the 58% who foresee a shift in their investment strategies:

  • 19% say they will save a higher percentage of their salary
  • 13% say they will invest in more aggressive assets
  • 20% say they will invest in more conservative assets
  • 6% say they will stop contributing to their 401(k) plan.

One reason for that pledge of more active involvement may be that workers appear to be decidedly more upbeat about the future of the market than they are pessimistic.

Some 66% either said they were bulls or hawks (waiting out the market volatility) while fewer than a quarter said they were either bears or ostriches (with heads in the sand).

The employee and employer surveys, fielded by KRC Research, were conducted from July 30 to August 6, 2002. The surveys included responses from more than 750 employees as well as more than 200 employers nationwide.