401k Assets Swing to Equities in October

For the first time in five months, 401(k) participants’ asset transfers were equity oriented after a long run of being fixed-income directed, according to the latest Aon Hewitt 401(k) Index data.


An Aon Hewitt news release said out of 21 trading days in October, 12 were equity oriented while nine were oriented toward fixed income.

Approximately $162 million moved out of equities into fixed income investments on a net basis, representing 0.14% of total assets.

According to the news release, nearly 90% of the transfers came from GIC/stable value and money market funds. GIC/stable value funds saw the largest outflows, with a total of $166 million transferred out (net) during the month while. Money market funds had $60 million in outflows by comparison.

Meanwhile, premixed/lifestyle funds received the largest net inflows, totaling $87 million. Small U.S. equity funds had inflows of $33 million, followed by international ($28 million) and emerging markets funds ($28 million).

Slight Equity Exposure Increase 

As for participants total equity allocation, equity exposure (on average) increased slightly from 57.9% at the end of September to 58.3% at the end of October, which was the result of both strong stock market returns and participant transfers. This is the highest level since May 2010.

Participants’ discretionary equity contribution, another measurement of participant sentiment, also increased by 1.2% to 60.8% by the end of October.

Overall participant activity was the same as last month—only 0.03% of plan balances transferred on a daily basis in October, Aon Hewitt said. Transfer activity was above normal level on merely two days.