Auto-enrollment helping millennials save for retirement

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Millennials are out-investing their Gen X and baby boomers coworkers for retirement, according to a new study from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Eighty-two percent of millennials are investing in a retirement savings vehicle, more than Gen X (77%) and baby boomers (75%), and auto-enrollment is likely the reason why.

“Historically, [millennials just out of college] are the folks that would have the lowest participation rate,” says Gary DeMaio, defined contribution product manager at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “With the use of automatic enrollment, you increase the involvement three-fold.”

More than 97% of auto-enrolled employees don’t opt out, according to the “2017 Plan Wellness Scorecard,” and plan sponsors have taken note.

Employers are moving toward simpler plan designs that incorporate auto-enrollment and auto-deferral, which result in higher employee engagement, according to the report. They also are making resources such as on-site meetings, webcasts and personal consultations available to employees.

See also: Auto-enrollment just one solution to retirement security problem

Plans that adopted those simplified features rose by 153% in 2016, according to the report. Similarly, auto-increase has become popular, showing a 24% year-over-year adoption growth rate and a 172% increase since 2012.

The simplification of the process also makes it easier for employees to enroll in a retirement vehicle or increase their contributions on their mobile devices.

Users logged into their mobile devices 3.8 million times in 2016, a 14% increase from 2015, according to the report. Employees are using mobile channels for express enrollments (16%), beneficiary changes (13%) and contribution rate changes (8%).

“We found that when you ask a participant to make the decision on how much they should save, they often hit a roadblock and stop the enrollment process,” DeMaio says. “We’ve simplified it by saying, here are three options. We’re making the decision much easier for the participant.”

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