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401(k) Rollovers and Financial Literacy. Prepared for the U.S. Government Accountability Office Chicago Field Office By: McKinney Austin Byron DeLuke Karen Walsh Peter Whalen Dominique Williams. Background.

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slide1

401(k) Rollovers

and

Financial Literacy

Prepared for the U.S. Government Accountability Office

Chicago Field Office

By:

McKinney Austin

Byron DeLuke

Karen Walsh

Peter Whalen

Dominique Williams

slide2

Background

● The retirement savings landscape has changed with increasing prevalence of defined contribution plans.

● U.S. workers have greater responsibility to prepare for retirement via savings and investments.

slide3

Background

● Increasingly, defined contribution plan accumulations are rolled into Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)  

● Potentially higher IRA fees can lead to reduced accumulation, standard of living

● Broad cross section of U.S. population is impacted

slide4

Research Questions

● To what extent do U.S. workers own IRAs and what are the demographic characteristics of IRA holders?

● Are rollovers a significant source of IRA assets and who rolls over?

● Are individuals who roll over aware of the option to leave assets in 401(k)s? 

● Are they aware of fees when rolling over? Are the fees transparent?

● What is the relationship between financial literacy and the rollover decision?

slide5

Research Methods

● Reviewed available literature

●Interviewed industry professionals  

●Analyzed Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data

to what extent do u s workers own iras
To What Extent Do U.S. workers Own IRAs?

● An increasing proportion of retirement savings are held in IRAs

● Both IRA ownership and rollover activity span many demographic groups

● Share of IRA assets increases with age

slide7

IRA Ownership:

  • Percentage of U.S.-based
  • Financial Retirement Assets in IRAs, 1985-2009

Note: All values are nominal. Retirement assets include IRAs, annuities, and employee-sponsored DB and DC plans

Source: ICI, 2010.

slide9

What are the Demographic Characteristics of IRA Holders?

  • ● IRA ownership increases with:
    • ●Family income
    • ●Educational attainment of the head of household
    • ●Family net worth
  • ● Ownership rates are highest for middle-age individuals
  • ● Individuals age 60-69 account for the largest share of IRA assets
    • ● Have worked for a long time; have not yet reached retirement age
slide10

Are Rollovers a Significant Source of

IRA Assets and Who Rolls Over?

  • ●U.S. workers change jobs with increasing frequency (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • ● Vast majority of assets in traditional IRAs are from rollovers
    • ●2007: approximately 5% from contributions
  • ● Rollovers
    • ●Almost even across age groups
    • ●LikeIRA ownership, spread across demographic groups
    • ●UnlikeIRA ownership, no strong correlation with income
slide11

Employee Options

upon Separation

  • ●Keep account assets in the employer’s plan
  • ●Rollover account assets to an IRA
  • ●Invest the account assets in the new employer’s 401(k)
  • ●Withdraw the account assets
  • ●Annuitize the account assets
slide12

Option Selection

  • ● According to Charles Schwab data, of the distributed 401(k) assets under their management:
    • ●80% were rolled over into an IRA
    • ●10% were taken as cash
    • ●8% were moved into a new employer’s 401(k)
    • ●2% were taken in other “forms of distribution”
slide13

Are Individuals Aware of

Options at Separation?

● Are 401(k) participants aware of their options upon separation from the employer?

●The plan must provide participants with information about their rights and benefits, including rollover options

●Do participants read the provided information?

●Our interviews suggest the answer is “no”

slide14

Factors Affecting the

Rollover Decision

● Are individuals aware of IRA and 401(k) fees?

● What other factors might individuals consider when facing the rollover decision?

slide15

Are Individuals Aware of

401(k) and IRA Fees?

● Research suggests that about half of employed persons cannot identify their type of pension or plan

● An even higher portion are unaware of any associated fees

● This is critical because higher fees relate directly to lower returns

slide16

Are 401(k) and IRA Fees Transparent?

  • ●Many 401(k) participants mistakenly believe the employer pays the fees
  • ●Factors affecting fees paid:
    • ● Amount invested in the account
    • ● Terms negotiated between sponsor and provider
    • ● Many providers bundle funds and/or administrative fees and fund expenses
slide17

New 401(k) Disclosure Rule

  • ●New DOL rule goes into effect November 1, 2011
  • ●Under new rule,annual statement must including:
    • ● Administrative and individual services fees
    • ● Performance after fees are subtracted
    • ●Amount and description of investment fees
    • ●Total annual operating expenses
    • ●Statement about cumulative effect of fees on account growth
slide18

Relative Importance of Fees in the

Rollover Decision

  • ● Other considerations:
    • ● Investment options within plans
    • ● 10% premature distribution penalty
    • ● Tax treatment: employer stock
    • ● Disposition at death
  • ●Interviews suggest that investment options and customizability are primary rollover factor
what is the relationship between financial literacy and rollovers
What is the Relationship Between Financial Literacy andRollovers?

● Does financial literacy affect rollover decision?

● Financial literacy

● Knowledge and capacity required to effectively manage one’s long-term financial health

● Evidence suggests ambiguous relationship

slide20

Data:

Health and Retirement Study (HRS)

● HRS is a national, longitudinal dataset managed by the University of Michigan

●Captures information from biennial interviews of over 22,000 Americans ages 50 and older

●Provides information about rollovers into IRAs

slide21

HRS Financial Literacy Questions

● If the chance of getting a disease is 10%, how many people out of 1,000 would be expected to get the disease?

●If 5 people all have the winning number in the lottery and the prize is 2 million dollars, how much will each of them get?

●Let’s say you have 200 dollars in a savings account. The account earns 10% interest per year. How much would you have in the account at the end of two years?

slide22

Defining the Sample

  • ● Use respondent-level core data from 2006
  • ● Include information from respondents who:
      • ● Left an employer since 2004
      • ● Had a DC plan
      • ● Took only one action on their primary DC plan
    • ● Rolled over to IRA, left assets in DC account, or withdrew
  • ● Total sample size of 375 respondents
slide25

Methods for Analysis

  • ● Compared correct response rates to financial literacy questions and education levels of those who rollover to:
    • ● Those who left assets in DC plans, and
    • ● Those who withdrew assets altogether
  • ● T-tests used to test whether groups are significantly different
slide26

Limitations

● Smallsamplesize

● Analysis does not control for other factors

● Results specific to sample population

● Financial literacy measures may not reflect knowledge required for rollover decision

slide27

Results

●Financial literacy and education levels are not significantly different between respondents who rolled assets into IRAs and respondents who left assets in their DC accounts

●Financial literacy and education levels are significantly higher for respondents who rolled assets into IRAs than respondents who withdrew assets

slide28

Correct response rates not statistically different between respondents who rolled over or left assets in DC accounts

slide29

Education levels not statistically different between respondents who rolled over or left assets in DC accounts

slide30

Correct response rates significantly higher for respondents who rolled over assets than respondents who withdrew assets

Significance levels: *** = 1 percent; ** = 5 percent

slide31

Education levels significantly higher for respondents who rolled over assets than respondents who withdrew assets

Significance level = 1 percent

slide32

Discussion

  • Financial literacy measures capture useful information
  • Results consistent with literature and interviews
  • ● Individuals may be:
    • ● Unaware of fees
    • ● Considering factors other than fees
  • ● Ambiguous relationship between financial literacy and investment decisions
slide33

Conclusion

  • ● IRAs are an important, growing source of retirement wealth. This issue applies to a significant number of individuals in the U.S. and cuts across demographic sectors.
  • ● Basic measures of financial literacy (education levels, arithmetic skills) are not able to differentiate people who roll assets into IRAs rather than leave them in their DC accounts.
slide34

Recommendations

  • ● Conduct further research on the outcomes of rollovers from a total wealth perspective
  • ● Evaluate new financial disclosure requirements
  • ●Address potential conflicts of interest among financial service providers offering rollovers to IRAs
  • ● Determine whether withdrawal behavior warrants further study
thank you
Thank you!

To access the full report,

please visit:

http://www.lafollette.wisc.edu/publications/workshops.html

slide37

Correct response rates and education levels not statistically different between respondents who rolled over or left assets in DC accounts

Standard deviations in parentheses.

P-values provided for one-tailed tests.

slide38

Correct response rates and education levels significantly higher for respondents who rolled over assets than respondents who withdrew assets

Standard deviations in parentheses.

P-values provided for one-tailed tests.