Financial firms are fighting for a share of the trillions of dollars baby boomers will reinvest as they enter retirement.
As baby boomers move into retirement they’ll put into play a large share of the $5.3 trillion in assets now held in employer-sponsored retirement plans known as 401(k)s. The competition for these newly retired clients is fierce among financial firms.
The 401(k) has become the primary way Americans save for retirement following the demise of traditional pension plans. A 401(k) is convenient, shelters assets from taxes and often involves matching contributions from employers, but when employees leave a company they must decide what to do with the assets accumulated in a 401(k).
Of particular concern to retirees is managing their investments so that they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, according to a comprehensive new study on retirement plans by Millionaire Corner.
“More and more senior citizens are worried about running out of money in retirement,” said Catherine McBreen, president of Millionaire Corner. “But our research shows that employees approaching retirement are asking the right questions about what to do with their money. We also know that more employees are coming to the conclusion they could use some help from a financial advisor, but they are savvy about fees and investment performance, and are looking for great service.”
More than half (52 percent) of all employees who left their company in 2010 rolled their 401(k) assets into an IRA and nearly one-fourth kept their assets in their old plan. Twelve percent transferred their 401(k) to a new plan and 10 percent used part or all of the assets to purchase annuities and other fixed-income products. The remainder, presumably in financial straits due to a firing or layoff, took early withdrawals from their retirement savings and suffered tax penalties.
Retirees are much more likely than job changers or unemployed individuals to roll their 401(k) into an IRA (59 percent) or purchase a fixed-income product (16 percent). Wealthier investors are also more likely to roll 401(k) assets into an IRA. Sixty-seven percent of investors who have saved $250,000 or more in a 401(k) plan convert the account to an IRA.
Investors use a variety of factors to select the financial firm providing their IRA, but the most important was familiarity. Nearly half (48 percent) of investors rolling a 401(k) into an IRA account selected a firm with which they already a relationship. Investors also feel it’s important to have a wide range of investment choices available, prize excellent customer service and seek a firm with a record of strong investment performance. Investors are also sensitive to costs and look for a firm with low fees.