401k Investors Want Help With Asset Allocation Strategies.

This article will focus on 401k plan participants expressed desire for help with asset allocation strategies; but, with a twist.

The author just finished reading a white paper prepared by ING Retirement Research Institute released on 3/31/2011. The title of the report is “Shedding Light on Retirement.” 2,600 401k plan participants were surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group on behalf of ING. One commentator took the report and proclaimed that the report indicated plan participants wanted help from their employers with asset allocation strategies. In fact 89% of the respondents said this was the help they wanted.

This is why I always prefer to read source material. Yes, the plan participants did say they wanted this help. However, in looking at the report, there were notable paradoxes in the responses. Specifically, 79% said they want control over how they invest; yet, over half stated they want more guidance, a roadmap, from their employer. In addition, 76% stated they want more investment choices; however, over half said they do not know how to achieve their retirement goals.

ING’s response to this survey was to create a website to help participants with education and offer personal contact, if they wish.

I suppose that is one solution. Perhaps another solution would be for employers to include professional 401k advisors for face-to-face, employee consultations. Survey participants seemed to suggest this is what they wanted; but, will such an offering by employers expose them to the Fiduciary Liability that they were so anxious to avoid when they terminated defined benefit plans?

Perhaps the responsibility is on the employee to realize they are truly on their own to find finance professional for themselves. Asset allocation strategies are not the only thing that 401k plan participants desire.  Many said they need help determining how much money they will need to take them through their retirement years and they also wanted help with an annual checkup to see if they are on track. Perhaps 401k advisors are the answer. The real question is how to deliver the service.


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