New research from the University of Missouri highlights importance of employees asking questions about their retirement plans
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Starting a new job often includes enrolling in a company’s retirement plan. As defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans, become more common than pension plans, American workers are increasingly responsible saving for retirement. Rui Yao, a nationally recognized expert on retirement savings from the University of Missouri, suggests that employees can’t trust that the retirement plan sponsored by their employer is in good hands just because the plan uses an advisor. To ensure a strong retirement plan performance, consumers must be active participants in retirement planning, she says.
In one of the first known academic studies devoted to evaluating fund selection offered in defined contribution plans, Yao, a professor of personal financial planning, examined retirement plan performance based on using plan advisors, plan size and plan choices offered. She found that plan advisors alone are not enough to ensure strong retirement plan performance.
“Plan advisors make recommendations regarding investment options that are offered in the plan,” Yao said. “It is critical for plan sponsors that such recommendations are beneficial to participants.”
Using data from an independent provider of retirement plan ratings and investment analytics, Yao evaluated retirement plan performance and its relationship with the use of advisors, comparing the performance of plans and funds offered within plans against benchmarks. For the study, Yao looked at data from retirement plans from 2013, 2014 and 2015.