What Sponsors Want On Participant Statements

September 6, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America's (PSCA's) Survey of Defined Contribution Plan Participant Statements 2005 found that plan sponsors are happy with the participant statements produced for their plans.

In all categories for which they were asked to rate their statements, the average rating on a scale from one to five was 4.1, where five was “excellent”. The categories included accuracy, legibility, timeliness, usefulness, clarity, and organization.

Almost 96% of sponsors surveyed said they want account balance information on the first page of participant statements, with plan contact information, current asset allocations and investment elections, deferral rate, and matching rate rounding out the top five.

While sponsors ranked “market review and industry news” as the least helpful bit of information on participant statements, the plan’s performance information was sixth on the list of helpful information. Interestingly, more than half of sponsors (51.5%) said plan expense information was not detailed enough on participant statements.

Most statements were delivered to participants quarterly, which fell in line with the desired frequency from plan sponsors. The desired length of statements also matched what participants are currently getting, an average of four pages.

As far as investment performance information, sponsors feel year-to-date, one year, and five year numbers should be included on statements. More than 31% of sponsors said this information results in participants making changes to their investment elections. However, most plan sponsors were uncertain when asked how investment performance information affects participants’ behaviors as far as changing elections, rebalancing, or asking for guidance.

Only 11.3% of plans include savings projection information on participant statements. Almost half (47.9%) of plan sponsors said this information results in increased deferral rates by participants.

PSCA surveyed 433 plan sponsors with plans of all sizes, from one to more than 5000 participants. Complete survey results are here .