Four years from now, the median account balance of a defined contribution plan will reach $150,000, up from $100,000 today - a decent-sized nest egg by most standards, but a far cry from the $1 million or more experts say is needed to sustain a retiree's lifestyle and health care costs. Thus, one-third of those "retiring" will continue to work and a majority of senior workers will be saving a portion of their earnings for "true old age," when they actually stop working.
These are some of the key findings from a study by retirement plan administrator Diversified Investment Advisors, "Prescience 2015: Expert Opinions on the Future of Retirement Plans" - a 181-question survey of 68 retirement experts from 54 plan sponsors and plan administrators with $25 million to $1 billion in assets each.
Although market turbulence has been jarring following Standard & Poor's downgrade of the United States' debt rating, experts expect the industry to experience a period of relative calm over the next five years. U.S. equities are expected to appreciate and the economy to grow slowly but steadily by an average of 1.4% a year. Eighty-three percent predict the Dow Jones Industrial Average will reach 14,000 by the end of 2015.
Survey respondents project 401(k), 403(b) and 457 assets to expand at an annual rate of 10%, from $4.6 trillion at the end of 2010 to $7 trillion by 2015.
Diversified also expects more people to participate in their 401(k) or other workplace retirement savings plan, with 70% of families with a head of household aged 55 to 64 having a retirement plan account, up from 61% today.
Survey respondents expect automatic enrollment to be in force among 72% of plans, up from 50% today. This will bring automatically enrolled participants in plans to 66% of all new participants. Automatic escalation is expected to rise from 25% of plans today to 43% of all plans by 2015. This more common usage of automatic enrollment will direct sponsors' attention to safe harbors and qualified default investment alternatives.
Fifty percent of respondents are hopeful for new legislation to expand automatic enrollment safe harbors to boost deferral rates from the current level of 3% in the first year to 10% or greater. In addition, legislation is expected that would require sponsors to illustrate what a 401(k) account balance would provide in a monthly income stream.
Mobile technology and social media are also projected to become more prevalent. Those plan administrators that can offer personalized advice on mobile platforms will stand out among sponsors and participants, says Laura White, Diversified's vice president of marketing.
Lee Barney is the Editor of Money Management Executive, a SourceMedia publication.
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