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Benefits Research & Surveys

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Benchmarks

According to Deloitte’s Annual Defined Contribution Benchmarking Survey for 2013-2014, efforts to make it easier for employees to save for retirement combined with a strengthening economy have stimulated 401(k) contribution rates and account balances.   This report provides an overview of the plan features, policies, objectives, and attitudes of the DC plan sponsors participating in the survey.

Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer Workers and Retirees: Retirement Saving & Spending Study

T. Rowe Price’s June, 2015 Retirement Saving & Spending Study revealed that across groups of 401(k) savers, millennials are following better financial habits than those of baby boomers. The slide presentation uncovers how different generational workers are saving and spending, and identify the statistics that differentiate these populations.

2015 Bank of America Merrill Lynch 401(k) Wellness Scorecard

Automation, mobility and advice are strengthening employee participation in workplace benefit plans, according to the 2015 Bank of America Merrill Lynch 401(k) Wellness Scorecard, with nearly two-thirds more Millennial’s participating in a 401(k) plan in 2014 than in the previous year.

16th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers

Transamerica’s 16th Annual Retirement Survey of Workers, published in May 2015, examines the retirement outlook of workers in their Twenties, Thirties, Forties, Fifties, and Sixties and older to compare and contrast their retirement preparations and shed light on how they can navigate the future and improve their retirement outlook.

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Benchmarks

This information and benchmarks in BMO Retirement Services’ March, 2015 publication Perspectives 2015 includes a summary of statistics and trends related to common features of retirement plans.  The data was compiled using data from PSCA, Deloitte, and Vanguard surveys.

The Changing Face of Retirement — Women: Balancing Family, Career & Financial Security

A report  by  the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies examines the retirement preparedness of women in the workforce in the United States and around the world. Based on findings  from  parent firm’s Aegon  2014 Retirement Readiness Survey, the report finds that today’s women are better educated and enjoy career opportunities beyond previous generations of women. However, the results also show that a woman’s path to a financially secure retirement is challenging.

2014 Inside Benefits Communication Survey

The 2014 Inside Benefits Communication Survey, a collaborative research effort from the National Business Coalition on Health and Benz Communications, is a national survey that explores how companies are making investments in benefits communications and the return on those efforts.  The survey’s data was collected from more than 300 high-level business professionals and provides greater insight into how companies are planning and implementing benefits communication.

Results of 401(k) Wellness Scorecard Reports Positive Trends in Participant Behavior and Plan Design

Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s 401(k) Wellness Scorecard results for the first half of 2014 indicate that saving for retirement and health care expenses was a priority for employees of all ages.  It also suggests that increased mobile access, 401(k) auto features, and more personalized advice have made employee benefit plans more valuable and easier to use for the typical participant.

Research Examines Retirement Readiness Challenge and What Employers Can Do to Improve 401(k) Plans

This October 2014  report from Transamerica’s 15th Annual Retirement Survey reveals positive news for retirement savings in America, but says that there’s still room for improvement.  The report is based on two separate phone surveys conducted earlier in 2014 with 751 for-profit employers and 4143 workers at for-profit firms.  The surveys explored employers’ views on the economy, whether they offer retirement benefits to employees, and American workers’ retirement readiness and expectations. The report recommends steps employers can take to improve their 401(k) plans based on survey results.

The Fidelity Investments Millennial Money Study: Facts, Figures and Findings

The results of Fidelity’s “Millennial Money Study”, conducted in April 2014, show many Millennials are fully engaged in their financial futures, and some of the results of its study challenge the common stereotypes about how this generation approaches planning for the future.

Towers Watson 2014 Health Care Changes Ahead Survey Report

Towers Watson’s 2014 Health Care Changes Ahead Survey yields insight into how companies are changing their health care strategies to comply with health care reform, combat escalating costs, avoid the business risks associated with the 2018 excise tax and improve employee engagement.

DB to DC Plan Shift Slowly Stabilizing

A September 2014  analysis by Towers Watson of retirement plan offerings at Fortune 500 companies suggests the shift from defined benefit (DB) plans to defined contribution (DC) plans may be slowly stabilizing, with fewer companies actively moving away from DB plans and establishing new DC plans for salaried employees than at any other point over the last decade.

Eighth Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond

Findings from Prudential Insurance’s 8th Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond show that  employers are taking a multichannel approach to meet the needs and preferences of their employees.   Some of the more traditional methods are still reporting in the top five, but there has also been a jump in employers reporting great success with newer communication vehicles.   The survey was conducted online  in August, 2013, and included three distinct groups:  employers, employees and benefits consultants and brokers.

Survey Highlights: Assessing the New Retiree Experience

An online survey of recent retirees and “near retirees” conducted in February and March 2014 by T. Rowe Price shows many retirees are living adequately on less, while   a majority of near retirees say they will have to adjust their style of living in retirement.

2014 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey Report

This report, published in June 2014 from Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., provides an interesting look at data collected from 1,833 organizations across the country when they were surveyed about their current and future employee benefits strategies.

Health Care Organizations Addressing Retirement Plan Engagement

Transamerica released the 11th annual research report, Retirement Plan Trends in Today’s Healthcare Market – 2014.  Produced in partnership with the American Hospital Association, the report finds that defined contribution retirement plan sponsors in the healthcare industry are making adjustments to plan design that can help employees achieve retirement goals, including placing greater emphasis on retirement outcomes, increasing default deferral rates and streamlining investment options.

Managing Financial Risk in Retirement & Benefits Programs

This 5th annual joint report from Prudential and CFO Research points to an increasing outcome orientation among U.S. companies:  a desire for more certainty with respect to managing defined benefit (DB) plan risks, an understanding of the need for more DB-like outcomes from defined contribution (DC) plans, and a desire to enhance the financial wellness of employees while managing benefit costs.

15th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey

Two reports based on Transamerica’s 15th annual Retirement Survey,  examine retirement readiness and expectations across generations. The first compares Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millenials while the second focuses specifically on Millenials, describing these youngest workers as an”emerging generation of super savers.”

Who’s Most Likely to Come up Short in Retirement, and When?

Will Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have enough money to live on when they retire, and if not, when will they run short? New modeling by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) finds that those in the lowest income brackets are most likely to run short, many in the first year of retirement.  But EBRI also finds that some in all income brackets – including the highest – may run short at some point during their retirement.

Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2013

This July 2014 report based on survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Board in September 2013 captures a snapshot of the financial and economic well-being of U.S. households. The survey also examined the issues they face, their recovery from the Great Recession and perceived risks to their financial stability.

HSA Savings: Potential Accumulations

A July 2014 analysis in EBRI’s Notes shows that a person contributing for 40 years to an HSA could save up to $360,000 if the rate of return was 2.5 percent, $600,000 if the rate of return was 5 percent, and nearly $1.1 million if the rate of return was 7.5 percent, and if there were no withdrawals.

How Much Should People Save for Retirement?

A July 2014 report from the Center for Retirement Research reveals that, according to  its National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI),  half of today’s working families are “at risk” of not being able to maintain their standard of living once they retire.  This report   examines how much households need to save  to maintain pre-retirement living standards by probing these questions :  What is the average amount of saving that will come from retirement savings plans?  What is the average required saving rate to produce adequate retirement income?  Given current saving patterns, how much would households have to save?

2013 Trends in Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation; Spotlight on Plan Participants

This June 2014 research report from The Principal® focuses on participants’ experiences with non-qualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plans. Based on online interviews conducted in late summer 2013, the survey examined factors that drive satisfaction with these plans, how deferral decisions are made and the role of NQDC in retirement readiness for key employees.

Help in Defined Contribution Plans: 2006-2012

Aon Hewitt teamed up with Financial Engines on this report that examines how participants’ use of three types of “help”–target date funds, managed accounts and online advice–affect investment performance.

2014 ADP Annual Health Benefits Report

ADP released its second annual Health Benefits Report. Subtitled “2014 Benchmark and Trends for Large Employers,” the report is based on ADP’s analysis of its own client base and tracks premium, eligibility and participation rates from 2010 to 2014.  Among its findings: participation has consistently been higher among older workers than among younger. The report also notes that between 2010 and 2014, premiums increased 15% but rose only 1.7% between 2013 and 2014.

70 Is the New 65

This article by Alicia Munnell of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College demonstrates age 70 is now the “real” retirement age. The article demonstrates how changes in life expectancy and in Social Security’s Delayed Retirement Credit, the tax treatment of benefits and new, income-adjusted charges for basic Medicare and Part D mean that for many all negatively affect income replacement rates.

Healthcare Cost Variations – A Comparison of 24 U.S. Urban Areas

This August 2013 study by the Benefits Services Group and HCTrends examined the cost-per-episode of providing care in 22 different medical practice areas across 24 urban areas in the United States and also looked at the efficacy of treatment. The differences among the cities highlight how difficult it is to make generalizations about costs and effectiveness of medical treatment.

Vanguard’s How America Saves 2013

This annual study looks at Vanguard’s database of plan sponsors and participants and reports on the latest trends in employer-sponsored retirement plans and participant behavior.

Research Measures DC Plan Participants’ Savings and Investing Behavior

Research from Aon Hewitt, based on the behaviors of 3.5 million eligible employees in 141 defined contribution plans, provides a tool for plan sponsors to gauge how their own plan participants’ behavior stacks up. The report also makes recommendations for improving outcomes through plan structure and communication.

2013/2014 Towers Watson NGBH Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care

The 18th annual Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care, a survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health, examines how “best performing” companies in the study, those with average trend of 2.2%, have managed to contain costs for themselves and their employees.

Retirement Income Adequacy

This 2012 research from Aon/Hewitt looks at retirement income adequacy at large companies and concludes that employees should target 11 times final annual pay to ensure adequate income in retirement.

2012 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report

This first quarter 2012 survey of 1000 employers that offer 401(k) plans and 1000 employees looks at the financial benefits employers provide to employees, including retirement savings plans, health savings accounts and financial advice, noting the intersection of the rising  costs of healthcare with saving for retirement.

Retirement Planning in a Post-Crisis Economy

This is the first in a three-part series of reports based on Towers-Watson’s July 2011 survey of current workers about retirement and healthcare benefits. In its fifth consecutive year, the survey encompasses responses from 3074 people about their employer-sponsored retirement and healthcare benefits. The initial report focuses on workers’ attitudes towards their household finances and retirement readiness.

Employment-Based Health Benefits and Taxation in an Era of Deficit Reduction

This July 2011 Issue Brief from EBRI looks at how elimination of favorable tax treatment of workers’ employer-provided health benefits would affect the current system and the U.S. budget deficit. Currently, employer-provided health benefits are the largest tax expenditure in the U. S. budget, dwarfing the home mortgage interest deduction.

2011 Milliman Medical Index

The annual Milliman Medical Index (MMI) measures the total cost of healthcare for a typical family of four covered by a preferred provider plan (PPO). The 2011 MMI shows that the cost more than doubled in nine years from $9,235 in 2002 to $19,393 in 2011.