With stock markets booming, it is little surprising that 401K retirement plan balances are at record highs. In a recent study covering 20 million participants across nearly 23,000 corporate plans, the nations largest retirement plan administrator Fidelity Investments, found that the average 401(k) account balance was over $129,000 last year, up 24% from from the prior year-end. This is up over 150% from the 2008 low of $50,200.
Even with the resurgence of equities’ markets, 401(k) plan participants are more cautious about fully investing their account balances in stock. This is reflected by the fact that 13% of active participants held all of their 401(k) account balances in equities last year, down from 14% in 2009 and 20% in 2007.
Average participant deferrals remained at 8.2 percent for an eighth straight quarter, which shows that employees continued investing in their 401K plans despite volatile equity markets. 401K loan activity also increased slightly last year. Just over 11% of participants took out a loan from their 401(k) plan last year, compared with 10.6% in 2009.
Fidelity also found that 54% of plan sponsors offer a Roth 401(k) feature, up from just 10% in 2007. In a Roth 401(k) plan, participants make after-tax contributions, but those contributions and investment income can be withdrawn tax-free if certain requirements are met.
For those that look at the above statistics and feel that they are not saving enough, see this article for some actions you can take now to ensure that your 401K plan provides the funds you need at retirement.