A hidden value of defined contribution retirement plans might be that they get participants thinking about their long-term finances.
In fact, about 90 percent of households saving in employer-sponsored defined contribution plans said they had such thoughts, according to a survey of adults across the country by the Investment Company Institute. More than 40 percent of households said they wouldn’t be saving at all if it not for the plans.
The survey comes amid growing concern about how retirement plan sponsors can reach employees and educate them about the importance of planning for their post-work years.
The institute noted that at the end of the third quarter of 2013, total U.S. retirement assets were estimated to be $21.9 trillion, with $5.6 trillion in DC plans and $6.2 trillion in IRAs.
“Our survey found strongly positive views of U.S. households toward the DC plan system, even in cases in which no one in the household was invested in a retirement plan,” said Sarah Holden, ICI senior director of retirement and investor research. “American households’ views on this topic clearly reaffirm the importance of our nation’s DC retirement plan system.”
Talk of reducing the amount that can be saved before taxes, runs counter to what the survey found: 86 percent said the government should take away such benefits. Nearly the same amount does not think contribution limits should be reduced.
One feature of the plans that workers said was key was the fact they by deferring wages out of every paycheck they were able to continue investing even in down markets thus being able to take advantage of dollar cost averaging.
That translated to 68 percent agreeing that such deferrals made them less worried about the stock market’s performance. That percentage held for those making up to $99,999 per year. Those households earning more were even more likely (74 percent) to agree with that sentiment.