2019
Participant Survey

Participants provide valuable insights for plan sponsors

State of the Industry

Capturing Their Voices

Participants provide valuable insights for plan sponsors

The 2019 PLANSPONSOR Participant Survey found that a retirement plan’s initial automatic deferral rate plays an important role in what employees save. Twenty-eight percent of plan participants said they accepted the default deferral rate. Perhaps because that rate is typically low, 41% of respondents save 5% or less—a more sizable group than the 34% last year and 35% in 2017.

The good news is that the percentage of employees saving more than 10% has remained steady. It was 21% this year, down slightly from 22% last year and 24% in 2017.

Despite market highs, retirement confidence is slipping, and reported total retirement savings has remained stagnant. Fifty-five percent of respondents have less than $100,000 in total retirement savings, up from 48% last year and 49% in 2017. A mere 30% have saved more than $150,000.

Regardless of their savings size, 48% said they are either “confident” or “very confident” they will be able to achieve a comfortable and secure retirement by their planned retirement date.

The number of people who want to retire before age 65 has reached a threeyear high: 36%. This could be surprising, given how many need to save so much more, yet might coincide with the $250,000-plus in savings group. Twenty-two percent expect to work until 70 or older.

The survey also revealed that, as someone’s balance grows, he is more inclined to work with an adviser. Only 10% of those with less than $50,000 saved have an adviser, but this jumps to 36% for those with over $250,000.

Asked what source of advice they prefer in relation to saving for retirement, the most commonly cited was advisers, by 31%. Respondents also checked off printed brochures (18%), group meetings (12%), and podcasts (10%), etc. —PS

Art by Dalbert B. Vilarino