...heads to Capitol Hill tomorrow, as the Senate Special Committee on Aging holds hearings on conflicts-of-interest in target-date vehicles. Here's a four-minute preview of some of the issues from CNBC, featuring Interlake's friend and colleague Mike Alfred of BrightScope:
In addition, Senator Herb Kohl of (the great state of) Wisconsin has just released a Government Accountability Office study of auto-enrollment in 401(k) plans. Here's GAO's overview:
Automatic enrollment appears to significantly increase participation in 401(k) plans according to existing studies, but may not be suitable for all plan sponsors. Some studies found that participation rates can reach as high as 95 percent under automatic enrollment. Available data indicate that the percentage of plans with automatic enrollment policies increased from about 1 percent in 2004 to more than 16 percent in 2009, with higher rates of adoption among larger plan sponsors. In most cases, these plans automatically enroll only new employees, rather than all employees. We also found that automatic enrollment may not be suitable for all plan sponsors, such as those with a high-turnover workforce. Further, some data show that while automatic escalation policies--which automatically increase saving rates over time--are increasingly common, they lag behind adoption of automatic enrollment. In combination with low initial contribution rates, this could depress savings for some workers. Also, the emergence of target-date funds--funds that allocate investments among various asset classes and shift to lower-risk investments as a "target" retirement date approaches--as the typical default investment raises questions in light of the substantial losses such funds experienced in the past year.