More DC Plans May Add Roth Features

An increasing number of U.S. employers are planning to add Roth features to their defined contribution (DC) plans in 2013.

New legislation makes it easier for DC investors to convert balances in their savings plans into Roth accounts, Aon Hewitt noted in a survey.

Just after the passage of the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012—or so-called fiscal cliff deal—Aon Hewitt conducted a pulse survey of more than 300 individuals from large U.S. corporations to determine the prevalence of Roth accounts and employers’ likely actions concerning their plans over the next 12 months.

According to Aon Hewitt’s findings, almost half (49%) of respondents currently offer no Roth provisions. Of those that do not offer Roth provisions, 29% are very or somewhat likely to add this feature in the next 12 months. Of those new adopters, more than three-quarters (76%) will add both Roth contribution and in-plan conversion features.

Employers have steadily been adopting Roth features in recent years, said Patti Balthazor Bjork, director of retirement research at Aon Hewitt. “The new law, along with a better understanding of Roth by both participants and companies, will encourage more plan sponsors to add these options in the near-term,” Bjork said.

Employers that already have a Roth contribution option are likely to allow employees to make in-plan conversions to Roth accounts, Aon Hewitt’s survey found. Of those respondents that currently allow Roth contributions but do not offer in-plan conversions, more than half (53%) are very or somewhat likely to add this feature in the next 12 months.

For companies that already allow Roth contributions and in-plan conversions, more than three-quarters (79%) are very or somewhat likely to expand the eligibility for in-plan conversions, allowing them for previously non-distributable amounts.

“The new rules open the door for employers to allow expanded in-plan conversions, but it’s not a requirement,” Bjork said. “However, it makes the Roth conversions more attractive for employees, so there will likely be increased interest and incentive for employers to offer them.”