U.S. retirement savings are edging up.

Total U.S. retirement assets crept up 1% to $20.9 trillion as of June 30, 2013, from $20.7 trillion at the end of March, according to the Investment Company Institute’s second-quarter report.

Retirement assets account for 34% of all household financial assets in the U.S., says Sarah Holden, ICI’s senior director of retirement and investment research.

The ICI found growth in both ongoing net contributions and positive investment returns, and across a range of retirement account types.

Assets in IRAs, which make up the largest component of the U.S. retirement market with $5.7 trillion in assets, grew 0.9%. Defined-contribution plan assets increased 1% to $5.3 trillion, while private-sector defined benefit plans rose to $2.8 trillion from last quarter’s $2.7 trillion.

The biggest increase was in government pension plans, which rose to $5.2 trillion in assets -- a 1.4% increase over the previous quarter. Annuity reserves saw a $1 billion increase in assets.


One big area of growth was in target-date mutual fund assets, which rose 2.1% to $540 billion at the end of the quarter. The vast majority (90%) of these assets were held through IRA and defined-contribution plans.

These funds continue to attract investors because the fund managers can diversify and rebalance over time, Holden says.

“There is a range of engagement among retirement savers," she says. "Some want to select individual funds and be very actively involved in the asset allocation of their accounts, while others want to have investment professionals manage the asset allocation and may choose to invest in target-date funds.”

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