Participants Prize Retirement Plans – More

More than half of 401(k) retirement savings plan participants report that their plan has become more important to them since the financial crisis of 2008.


That result is up nearly 10 percentage points from last year, according to a nationwide survey released by BlackRock.

For many plan participants, saving for retirement outstrips all their other savings goals, including healthcare (61%) and “getting out of debt” (51%), according to the BlackRock survey. While most participants (74%) reported retirement savings as a top priority, they are uncertain about setting a proper savings rate.

Other findings include:

  • Of the 77% of participants who reported that they knew the rate at which their employer would match their savings, more than four of five (83%) said they were investing at the rate to receive the full match.
  • The employer’s matching contribution was ranked by employees as the most powerful influence on their saving (ranked as “very influential” by 45% of plan participants).
  • One-third of participants ranked the DC plan feature to automatically increase savings rate as the next most powerful savings incentive.

“We heard two clear messages from participants: First, saving for retirement is a top priority for them and, second, they are confused about how to turn retirement savings into retirement income,” said Chip Castille, head of US and Canada defined contribution at BlackRock. 


Retirement Realities

When it comes to retirement realities, the BlackRock survey also found:

  • More than six of 10 (62%) plan participants believe they will live in retirement more years than they believe their retirement nest-egg will need to last.
  • Over half (57%) of plan participants said they would prefer to receive a steady stream of income in retirement vs. a lump sum payment (9%).
  • The vast majority of participants (82%) said they had little or no experience in managing a sum of money over $100,000.  

The BlackRock survey findings also indicated that nearly three fourths of participants (72%) said they would accept their employer’s guidance to shift their balances to a well diversified managed account.

BlackRock’s second annual Survey of 401(k) Participant Attitudes and Behaviors was conducted via the Internet by Boston Research Group during March 2010. The BlackRock survey is fielded to 1,000 workers who are actively contributing to a 401(k) plan; the poll has a maximum sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.