More than three-quarters, 77%, of 401(k) investors have not made any changes in the past 12 months leading up to April, J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services found in a survey titled “Anything But Certain.”
Nonetheless, partially because of the poor economy, saving for retirement is still Americans’ No. 1 financial priority, J.P. Morgan found, followed in order by paying bills, paying off their mortgage, paying off credit cards, saving for children’s education and buying a house.
Seventy-five percent have confidence in their own decision-making, but only about 37% trust their employer and a mere 15% trust the government.
Interestingly, when J.P. Morgan asked participants who had lost savings in the market in the previous year how they had reacted, only 4% stopped contributing to their 401(k), and 10% decreased contributions. Conversely, only 9% increased their contributions. The remaining 77% made no changes whatsoever.
The investors who made no changes seem to be trapped by indecision, inaction and inertia, J.P. Morgan said. Sixty-four percent of these investors said they plan to ride out the market downturn and recovery, 37% said they believe their portfolio is sufficiently diversified, 13% said they didn’t know what to do, 8% said they didn’t think the market had hit bottom yet, and 3% said it was due to another reason.
Among the 23% who did make changes to their investment mix, 57% rebalanced the portfolio, 33% moved some assets into bonds and cash, 13% moved all assets into bonds and cash, 7% moved some assets into the stock market and 6% did none of the above.
“It is interesting that participants want to be in control of their retirement planning decisions, despite the fact that they admittedly lack the time, interest and confidence in investing to make those decisions,” said Pamela Popp, chief executive officer of J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services.
“It is important for the industry to understand this disconnect and instead of trying to change it, to meet participants on their own terms with solutions that help them make the right informed decisions,” Popp added.