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Screaming headlines of dubious reports purporting that 401(k) plan participants raiding their retirement savings are au courant these days.

But a Bank of America Merrill Lynch study suggests an opposite trend, and the fact that Merrill’s retirement plan management encompasses 2.5 million total plan participants and plan assets of $98.1 billion gives weight to the study’s quite upbeat conclusion: that 2012 was a model year and that Americans are fortifying their retirement readiness.

Kevin Crain“Of all participants in their retirement plans taking an action, we like to measure how many are taking positive actions and how many negative actions,” said Kevin Crain (right), head of institutional retirement and benefit services for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in an interview with AdvisorOne.

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