Employees Are Too Complacent About Their 401(k) Plans

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The majority of employees admit they don't know enough about their retirement plans as they should, according to a new survey released by State Street Global Advisors, the Boston-based asset manager.

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Even worse, only 20% of those same people seek advice about their 401(k) plans, the survey found.

Only 31% of respondents are "extremely confident" or "very confident" that they have saved enough in their employer-sponsored defined contribution or 401(k) plans to live comfortably in retirement, according to a survey about trends in employer-sponsored retirement programs conducted by SSgA, the investment management business of State Street Corp.

Employees are seeking additional information and help to participate more actively in their plans, said Frederik Axsater, managing director and global head of defined contributions at SSgA, which has $300 billion in assets under management.

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Younger employees are interested in learning more about their investment options from social media while Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers are interested in seminars.

"Participants appreciate support and they are asking for more," he said. "Any additional effort from an employer is welcome, ranging from automation in enrollment to targeted communication."

A recent TIAA-CREF report found that 40% of employees who are not currently contributing enough to get the maximum matching funds from their employers said they are happy to get reminders to do so.

Employer-sponsored retirement programs that give information on how much someone will actually spend when they are retired are more valuable, Axsater said. Most programs do not provide enough guidance on how much money you should withdraw in your retirement.

"Having further steps in automation is important since saving early in your career is important," he said. "Saving a sufficient amount needs to be easier."