Major reasons 401(k) participants cite for not saving more money now for retirement are having to pay off debt (49%); not earning enough (36%); and having other spending priorities (26%), according to a survey by J.P. Morgan.
Many participants know they are not saving enough—68% say their 2015 contributions were below where they should have been. In addition, 81% say they are interested in doing financial planning for retirement, but nearly half (45%) do not have a plan.
However, 48% of participants admit they simply do not spend enough time thinking about and planning for retirement. The survey also found many participants may not be fully engaged in managing their 401(k) accounts—28% have never rebalanced their 401(k) account, 31% have never made a change to their initial choice of investment options, and 18% have never increased their contribution amount.
Individuals vary in what motivates them to save, but 67% agree that helping them to “understand their numbers”—how much more they should be saving or how much they should have in their retirement plan today to ensure a financially secure retirement—is a very effective way for an employer to encourage them to save. At least half (52%) look to their employer to provide a viewpoint about how much to contribute to their plan, while 41% think they should be notified if they are not saving enough.
Only 38% are very or extremely confident in their knowledge about how much to put into their 401(k) each year to be on track to reach their retirement goals. Only 34% are very or extremely confident in their knowledge about how to estimate how much they will have in their 401(k) at retirement if they continue saving at the same level, and only 30% in how much monthly income their savings will provide in retirement.NEXT: Participants receptive to automatic plan features
According to J.P. Morgan, participants appear receptive to trading some degree of autonomy for plan features and strategies designed to offer a disciplined approach to saving, simplified investment choices and improved asset allocation.
Roughly three-quarters of participants are in favor of or at least neutral toward automatic enrollment (75%) and automatic contribution escalation (74%). Roughly two-thirds (67%) are in favor of or at least neutral toward a combination of these two features. A large majority (90%) find target-date funds (TDFs) appealing. In addition, most (82%) are in favor of or at least neutral toward re-enrollment.
Looking at participants younger than 30, members of this cohort are even stronger proponents of the automatic 401(k). Additionally, results for “do it yourself” investors, despite this group’s stated preference for a more independent approach, do not vary significantly from the others' averages.
Among those automatically enrolled in their plans, less than 1% opted out, nearly all are satisfied (96%), and nearly one-third (31%) say they would not have enrolled otherwise. Among those whose contribution amounts are/were automatically increased by 1% to 2% each year, nearly all are satisfied (97%), and 15% say they were unlikely to have escalated their contributions if not for this automatic feature.
Among those who went through a re-enrollment, 73% allowed their assets to be moved to a TDF, and 99% of those whose funds were moved are satisfied.
From January 12 through January 25, 2016, J.P. Morgan Asset Management partnered with Mathew Greenwald & Associates to conduct an online survey of 1,001 defined contribution plan participants. In order to qualify for the study, each respondent had to be employed full-time at a for-profit organization with at least 50 employees, be at least 18 years old and have contributed to a 401(k) in the past 12 months.A report of J.P. Morgan’s survey results is here.
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