Rollover Workplace Retirement Plans
Published On: September 13, 2023
Written by: Ben Atwater and Matt Malick
The Employee Benefit Research Institute says the average 401(k) participant has 9.9 employers over the course of a career. In other words, every year 14.8 million Americans with workplace retirement plans move to new jobs. Often, as a result of this transition, plans are left behind and typically ignored. Capitalize, a 401(k)-consolidation firm, estimates that there are 24 million left-behind 401(k)s with about $1.35 trillion in forgotten assets in the U.S.
Frequently, the process for rolling over old 401(k)s is clunky. For example, most plans still require filling out a bundle of paperwork and / or calling the custodian and verbally consenting to an intimidating “tax notice disclosure.”
After completing this, providers often only offer the option of mailing a check. These checks can fail to arrive or go unnoticed among unmarked junk mail. The custodian might make the check payable to an improper payee. Or the participant may not deposit the check in a timely manner or to the appropriate rollover account.
Not to mention that 41.4% of U.S. workers simply withdraw their money from retirement plans when they change jobs and, of those, 85% of employees completely drain their accounts, according to the UBC Sauder School of Business.
Despite these eye-opening statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) requires registered investment advisors, like us, to supply detailed disclosures to clients rolling over their plans to our management. The DOL sees our rollover recommendation as a conflict of interest, since we assess a fee on assets we manage. By this logic, any American who provides a product or service in exchange for money has a conflict of interest, but nevertheless we encourage you to read our disclosure.
We believe that coordinating your investment strategy across all accounts is key to your retirement planning success. In addition to the basic rollover neglect we outline above, we see other compelling reasons for retirement planning consolidation, especially for high-net-worth clients, such as: