The Numbers Game of 401(k) Plan Assets

Life is a numbers game. Whether it’s business, family, or pleasure, numbers do matter. What the numbers say today, may not say tomorrow and you can often predict the future of the numbers because demographics are pointing the numbers to a certain direction.

For the first time ever, there were net outflows from 401(k) plans in 2013 to the tune of a net of $11.4 billion. Baby boomers are starting to retire and let’s face facts, a large chunk of 401(k) plan assets belong to baby boomers.

Net outflows aren’t good news if you are a retirement plan providers. While much of that 401(k) outflow will be converted to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) that does little good for the third party administrator that will have no say in the matter and the financial advisor who may not have the right to solicit that flow to IRAs because of their rule as plan fiduciaries.

Life is a numbers game and it’s likely the net outflow will continue as long as the retirement plan industry does not do a better job in marketing their products and services to younger employees. There is enough time to turn the tide of net outflows, but the retirement plan industry needs to understand that the net outflow isn’t going to be a one-time thing.

More focus and attention is needed for participant education and better marketing to wring more assets from younger plan participants.

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