More than half of 401(k) plan participants believe their plan has become more important since the financial crisis of 2008, but many are failing to save as much as they think they should be saving, according to a BlackRock survey.
One of the contributing factors to why participants are failing to meet their savings goals is that they rely heavily on their employer’s match to dictate how much they put away. In fact, 45% of respondents said that the employer’s matching contribution was “very influential” on their saving habits. Here’s the problem: When asked what they thought a good rule of thumb for a savings rate is, 40% said 10% and 25% said 12%. But the average contribution rate for employees is about 6-7%--or roughly what the normal employer match tends to be.
“There is a gap between intentions on savings and action on savings,” said Alan Mason, managing director and portfolio manager with BackRock’s multi-asset client solutions group, at a presentation in New York on Tuesday.
The overwhelming majority of the 1,000 401(k) participants surveyed reported retirement savings as their top priority (74%), compared to other needs like healthcare (61%) and debt relief (51%). But 62% of participants also said they believe they will live in retirement more years than they believe their retirement nest-egg will need to last. In other words, there appears to be a disconnection between how long they think they will live in retirement and at what rate they can deplete their savings.
Chip Castille, head of U.S. and Canada defined contribution at BlackRock suggested that participants should increasingly utilize “well-designed” target date funds. These funds would be primarily focused on managing asset allocation risk and not be dependent on the market environment to dictate how it performs. “It is important to get lifetime income into a 401(k) plan,” Castille said.