Average 401(k) account balances nearly double since crisis

ICI chief Stevens says assumption that 401(k) plans aren't working is wrong

By Barry B. Burr

Oct 17, 2013 @ 9:32 am (Updated 10:09 am) EST

401(k), ICI, paul schott stevens, crisis

The average 401(k) account balance was $94,482 at the end of 2011, the most recent figures available, up from $49,932 at the end of 2008, Paul Schott Stevens, president and CEO of the Investment Company Institute, said Wednesday at a news briefing in Chicago.

The average balance was $76,534 in 2007, Mr. Stevens added. The numbers are based on 8.6 million 401(k) plan participants who had account balances at the end of each of those years.

Efforts to reduce 401(k) tax incentives would harm plans and participants, Mr. Stevens said. Although there have been proposals to reduce the incentives, no legislation has been introduced.

Fees have come down for 401(k) mutual funds, he said, although he did not have specific figures. He noted three-quarters of all stock mutual funds used for 401(k) plans have a fee of less than 1%.

(Don't miss: 6 disastrous 401(k) mistakes)

The assumption that 401(k) plans aren't working is wrong, he said.

The 401(k) plan “is a very powerful retirement savings tool for people who use it through their working life,” said Mr. Stevens, adding, “It will contribute to a comfortable retirement.”

(Barry B. Burr is editorial page editor at sister publication Pensions & Investments.)

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