Annual 401(k) Benchmarking Survey (2012 Edition)

Exploring new channels for engaging and educating employees on saving for retirement and improving overall retirement readiness


Even though 401(k) plan sponsors had to comply with new fee disclosure requirements in  2012, Deloitte’s annual 401(k) Benchmarking Survey reveals that education around fees was less of a focus for plan sponsors than more general education aimed at boosting participants’ readiness for retirement. This concern for education seems well-founded: While survey data indicate an uptick in the average balance of participants’ 401(k) accounts—on the rebound from lows in 2008 and 2009—the $75,000+ balance reported by 44 percent of plan sponsors is still far short of what’s likely to be needed for a comfortable retirement.

In response, plan sponsors are combining educational activities with efforts to improve the overall participation experience. They’re working to incorporate more technology-based approaches, such as social media, mobile applications, webcasts, podcasts and intuitively designed websites, to boost participants’ financial acumen and retirement awareness and promote active engagement.

The Annual 401(k) Benchmarking Survey is sponsored jointly by Deloitte, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and includes electronic responses from nearly 400 companies evenly distributed by geography, size and ownership status (i.e., publicly or privately held). Besides education, the study also highlights plan sponsors’ views and practices concerning plan administration, eligibility and enrollment, employer matching and profit-sharing, provider relationships, fees and more.