Retirement accounts held $18 trillion in 2011

There was nearly $18 trillion stashed in U.S. retirement assets as of Dec. 31, 2011, according to data compiled by the Investment Company Institute, a 4.9 percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2011 and unchanged for the year.  Retirement savings accounted for 36 percent of all household financial assets in the United States at the end of 2011.

The bulk of the money sat in IRAs, $4.9 trillion; defined contribution plans, $4.5 trillion; private defined benefit plans, $2.4 trillion; government plans, $4.5 trillion; and annuity reserves, $1.6 trillion. All areas were either the same or above the third quarter 2011 numbers.

Out of the defined contribution plan dollars, $3.1 trillion was held in 401(k) plans, and mutual funds managed $2.5 trillion of the assets held in $401(k), 403(b), and other DC plans at the end of December.

Of the $4.9 trillion in individual retirement accounts at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011, 45 percent of the assets, or $2.2 trillion, was invested in mutual funds.

Target-date mutual fund assets grew 9.6 percent in the fourth quarter and 10.6 percent for the year, according to the ICI, holding $376 billion. The report found that 91 percent of target-date mutual fund assets were held through DC plans and IRAs.

The ICI also wrote a separate report on DC plan participants’ activities in 2011. It showed that DC plan participants continued to save in their work retirement plans. Assets in all DC plans represented about one-quarter of assets in the total retirement market and accounted for almost one-tenth of U.S. households’ aggregate financial assets at the end of December.

The same amount of DC plan participants took withdrawals as the previous year, 3.4 percent and 3.5 percent respectively. At the end of the year, 18.5 percent of DC plan participants had loans outstanding, compared to 18.2 percent at the end of 2010.


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