Age, Account Balance Affect Allocation

The investment allocation of individual retirement accounts (IRAs) varies according to several factors, but the difference between genders is minimal.

According to an EBRI report, those older, having higher account balances, or owning a traditional IRA that originated as a rollover had, on average, lower allocations to equities, according to the report, which notes that as account balances increased, the percentages of assets in equities (i.e., direct ownership, mutual funds, etc.) and balanced funds (including target-date funds) combined decreased, while bond (i.e., direct ownership, mutual funds, etc.) and “other” (i.e., real estate, annuities, etc.) assets’ shares increased.

Equity allocations for the youngest IRA owners (younger than age 35) with small account balances were the lowest across the age groups. However, when balances reached $10,000 or more, younger IRA owners had significant increases in equity allocations, such that those ages 25 to 34 with the largest account balances had the largest equity allocation.

“Those under age 45 were much more likely to use balanced funds than were older IRA owners, and those under age 35 with balances less than $25,000 had particularly higher allocations to balanced funds,” noted Craig Copeland, EBRI senior research associate and author of the report. “This shift follows the standard investing ‘rule of thumb’ that individuals should reduce their allocation to assets with high variability in returns (equities) as they age.”

Roth IRAs had the highest share of assets in equities (59.1%) and balanced funds (15.5%). Traditional-originating from rollovers IRAs had the lowest percentage in equities (at 41.3%), but also had the highest percentage of assets in money (12.8%) and the highest percentage in bonds. Roth IRA owners were also much more likely to have 90% or more of their account invested in equities than owners of the other IRA types. IRA owners who also were ages 35 to 44 or had account balances of less than $10,000 were more likely to have extreme allocations (more than 90%) to equities.

Overall, as of year-end 2010, about 46% of total IRA assets were in equities, 20% in bonds, 11% in balanced funds, 9% in money and 15% in “other” investments.

These and other findings come from the latest update of the EBRI IRA Database, an ongoing project by EBRI that currently contains information about 14.85 million accounts of 11.1 million unique individuals with total assets of $1.002 trillion, as of year-end 2010. Full results are published in the October 2012 EBRI Notes at