Participant deferrals in Q4 2009 were up an average of 0.54% across all age groups compared to Q3 2009, according to MassMutual’s data of participants in plans it administers. The percentage of participants who maintained or increased their savings rate reached its highest level for the year in Q4 2009 at 96%, with 2.7% of participants actually increasing their savings rate.
The number of participants who decreased their deferral rate reached the lowest levels in Q3 (1.25%) and Q4 (1.28%), respectively.
According to a press release, while overall traffic on The Journey, MassMutual’s participant Web site, declined 13% in Q4 versus Q3 2009, traffic on the company’s participant education Web site, RetireSmart Academy, increased by more than 52% for the same period—indicating that participants are checking their account balances less frequently but are focused on educational activities. RetireSmart Academy also noted its highest-ever Asset Allocation Seminar attendance since the site launched early in 2009.
MassMutual’s average participant balance was up 29.1% in 2009 versus 2008 and participants are displaying increasing confidence in equities, the company said. As of year-end 2009, participant assets in bonds and stable value funds declined slightly, while assets in equities and asset allocation investments as a percentage of total assets grew to 62.3%, a high for the year.
In addition, investments in MassMutual’s asset allocation options increased from 18.6% at year-end 2008 to 21.6% at year-end 2009—a 16% increase and the highest level of assets in asset allocation funds as a percentage of total retirement assets at MassMutual to date.
According to MassMutual’s call center data, more participants called about loans than any other activity in the 4th quarter; however, the number of participant loans and hardship/in-service withdrawals declined by 6.7% and 6.2%, respectively, for the period.