May 01, 2012
--- Fidelity Investments reported its average 401(k)
balance rose to $74,600 at the end of the first quarter, up 8% from the end of
the fourth quarter 2011. ---
The first-quarter balance also
represents a 62% increase since the end of the first-quarter 2009, often
considered the low of the 2008-09 market downturn, when the average balance was
$46,200. Fidelity’s 401(k) savings analysis is based on its participant base of
11.8 million accounts.
Strong stock market performance in
the first quarter accounted for approximately 80% of the account balance growth
with the other 20% attributed to both participant and employer
Fidelity also found the number of
participants taking advantage of annual increase programs (AIP) increased
nearly ninefold over the past five years. AIP programs are an employer
plan design option that automatically increases contribution rates by
participating employees, typically by 1% per year. Of Fidelity 401(k)
plans, 76% offer this program.
During the first quarter, nearly 10%
of Fidelity 401(k) participants increased their contribution rate versus less
than 4% who decreased it. Of those participants in plans offering automatic
AIP, 16% increased their contribution rate.
In 2011, 20% more participants
attended workplace workshops and 45% more used online webinars compared with
2010. Also, approximately two thirds of 401(k) participants accessed their
account through NetBenefits, Fidelity’s participant portal, either online or
through the company’s smartphone app.