Here is a look at the top 10 individualequity holdings, as a percentage of assets, that investors, bygeneration, are tapping through Schwab's brokerage window. (Photo:Shutterstock)


Self-directed brokerage account (SDBA) windows in 401(k)s, longan object of suspicion among regulators, are used by a small minority ofplan participants.


Exactly how many plan sponsors build brokerage windows, which give plan participantsaccess to thousands of investment options aside a 401(k)s coremenu, varies by recordkeeper.


In 2015, data from Aon Hewitt showed 40 percent of employersoffered brokerage windows in 401(k) plans (Aon's recordkeeping unithas since spun off and rebranded as Alight).


Vanguard's 2017 annual 401(k) report shows 17 percent of theplans it administers offer a brokerage window, with large plansoffering them at a 30 percent clip. The Plan Sponsor Council ofAmerica's annual 401(k) survey shows about 25 percent of plansoffer a brokerage window, with 36 percent of plans with more than5,000 participants offering the feature. About 20 percent of planswith fewer than 50 participants do.


When savers are offered the option of a brokerage window, theyare used sparingly. PSCA data shows that only 1.3 percent of totalplan assets are accounted for by investments through brokeragewindows.


When a sponsor does offer a brokerage window, it must be madeavailable to all of a plan's participants. The vastness ofinvestment options offered through windows, combined with the riskthat less financially savvy participants could misappropriate theoption, has left many in the plan advisory and legal communityleery of the feature, lest it expose employers to expandedfiduciary liability.


The question of whether only financially savvier participantsare using the accounts could be found in the wealth that isaggregating in SDBAs.


The most recent data from Charles Schwab, a leading provider of SDBAs,shows that average balance for advised brokerage accounts is$436,709. For non-advised accounts, the average balance is$226,283. About half of the assets invested through Schwab'sbrokerage window offering are advised accounts.


Comparatively, the average 401(k) account balance in 2017 was$102,280, according to PSCA.


Boomers have the highest average balance, at $365,561; Gen Xersaverage brokerage window balance is $194,534; and millennials'average account holds $61,916.


Of the 137,000 SDBAs that Schwab pulls quarterly data from, 41.6percent are held Boomers, 40 percent are held Gen Xers, and 10.7percent are held by Millennials.


Mutual funds account for 38 percent of brokerage windowinvestments, followed by individual equities at 28.7 percent, ETFsat 16.9 percent, cash equivalents at 13.9 percent, and fixed incomeat 2.3 percent.


Participants hold an average of 9.7 investments through Schwab'sbrokerage window platform. Millennials held the highest percentageof cash, at 16 percent of their holdings.


Here is a look at the top 10 individual equity holdings, as apercentage of assets, that investors, by generation, are tappingthrough Schwab's window:


10. Percentage of assets: 1.12 –1.33%

  • Millennials hold 1.12 percent of SDBA assetsin Alphabet (C share)
  • Gen Xers hold 1.33 percent of assets inMicrosoft
  • Boomers hold 1.18 percent in Bank ofAmerica

9. Percentage of assets: 1.13 –1.42%

  • Millennials hold 1.13 percent of SDBA assetsin Alphabet (A share)
  • Gen Xers hold 1.42 percent of assets inTesla
  • Boomers hold 1.21 percent in Alibaba

8. Percentage of assets: 1.29 –1.49%

  • Millennials hold 1.49 percent of SDBA assetsin Nvidia
  • Gen Xers hold 1.45 percent of assets inAlibaba
  • Boomers hold 1.29 percent in Alphabet(Google)

7. Percentage of assets: 1.38 – 1.5%

  • Millennials hold 1.5 percent of SDBA assets inAlibaba
  • Gen Xers hold 1.47 percent of assets inNvidia
  • Boomers hold 1.38 percent in Nvidia

6. Percentage of assets: 1.55 –1.81%

  • Millennials hold 1.81 percent of SDBA assetsin Berkshire Hathaway
  • Gen Xers hold 1.55 percent of assets in Bankof America
  • Boomers hold 1.79 percent in Netflix

5. Percentage of assets: 1.84 -2.81%

  • Millennials hold 2.81 percent of SDBA assetsin Netflix
  • Gen Xers hold 2.37 percent of assets inBerkshire Hathaway
  • Boomers hold 1.84 percent in Microsoft

4. Percentage of assets: 2 – 3.04%

  • Millennials hold 3.04 percent of SDBA assetsin Tesla
  • Gen Xers hold 2.52 percent of assets inNetflix
  • Boomers hold 2 percent in Facebook

3. Percentage of assets: 2.58 –3.16%

  • Millennials hold 3.16 percent of SDBA assetsin Facebook
  • Gen Xers hold 2.91 percent of assets inFacebook
  • Boomers hold 2.58 percent in BerkshireHathaway

2. Percentage of assets: 5 – 6.93%

  • Millennials hold 5.73 percent of SDBA assetsin Apple
  • Gen Xers hold 6.93 percent of assets inAmazon
  • Boomers hold 5 percent in Amazon

1. Percentage of assets: 8.65 –9.61%

  • Millennials hold 7.6 percent of SDBA assets inAmazon
  • Gen Xers hold 9.61 percent of assets inApple
  • Boomers hold 8.65 percent in Apple

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