While Mondays market reopening and subsequent plunge does not appear to have prompted a flurry of redemption activity from fund shareholders, it apparently made many 401(k) participants nervous enough to transfer a significant amount of their assets.
The prolonged closure of the markets was partially to blame for a spike in transfer activity, but the terrorist attacks played a significant role as well, said Lori Lucas, a consultant with Hewitt Associates, a defined contribution services firm based in Lincolnshire, Ill. "Clearly, 401(k) participants responded to last weeks tragedy, by moving their asset from equities to fixed income," she said in a statement.
In fact, Mondays transfer activity amounted to $400 million in assets, or .58% of the total balances tracked by an index that measures the daily activity of 401(k) assets. The index, which is maintained by Hewitt, tracks $71 billion in large plan sponsor assets held by 1.5 million participants.
Mondays spike is the highest level of transfer activity the index has ever recorded since it was launched in 1997 and nine times higher than the normal level of activity. In the past year, daily transfer activity has been relatively low at .06%.
While transfer activity was high, the call volume for plans administered by Hewitt was only slightly higher than normal, suggesting a small percentage of participants transferred a large amount of assets, according to Hewitt.