Billions of dollars are leaking from 401(k) plans every year,draining millions of Americans' retirement savings and potentiallydelaying their retirements by years. It's an opportunity forfinancial advisors to grab a metaphorical pipe wrench and playplumber to stem the leak and protect workers' retirements.

The Pension Research Council (PRC) at the Wharton School,University of Pennsylvania reports that one in 10 401(k) plan loanswind up in default, sucking $6 billion a year from definedcontribution plans (Borrowing from the Future:401(k) Plan Loans andLoan Defaults, Pension Research Council, Wharton School, Universityof Pennsylvania). Often, the unpaid loans are by employees whohave tight financial circumstances and lack liquidity options toaddress financial emergencies.

Many middle-income workers – those with annual household incomesof between $35,000 and $150,000 – struggle to deal with financialemergencies, according to the 2017 MassMutual Middle America Financial SecurityStudy. Often, the choices they make are harmful from along-term financial perspective.

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