Posts Tagged ‘automatic enrollment’

Top Milliman blog posts in 2014

December 15th, 2014 No comments

Milliman consultants had another prolific publishing year in 2014, with blog topics ranging from healthcare reform to HATFA. As 2014 comes to a close, we’ve highlighted Milliman’s top 20 blogs for 2014 based on total page views.

20. Mike Williams and Stephanie Noonan’s blog, “Four things employers should know when evaluating private health exchanges,” can help employers determine whether a PHE makes sense for them.

19. Kevin Skow discusses savings tools that can help employees prepare for retirement in his blog “Retirement readiness: How long will you live in retirement? Want to bet on it?

18. The Benefits Alert entitled “Revised mortality assumptions issued for pension plans,” published by Milliman’s Employee Benefit Research Group, provides pension plan sponsors actuarial perspective on the Society of Actuaries’ revised mortality tables.

17. In her blog, “PBGC variable rate premium: Should plans make the switch?,” Milliman’s Maria Moliterno provides examples of how consultants can estimate variable rate premiums using either the standard premium funding target or the alternative premium funding target for 2014 and 2015 plan years.

16. Milliman’s infographic “The boomerang generation’s retirement planning” features 12 tips Millennials should consider when developing their retirement strategy.

15. “Young uninsureds ask, ‘Do I feel lucky?’” examines the dilemma young consumers face when deciding to purchase insurance on the health exchange or go uninsured.

14. Last year’s #1 blog, “Retiring early under ACA: An unexpected outcome for employers?,” is still going strong. The blog authored by Jeff Bradley discusses the impact that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could have on early retirees.

13. Genny Sedgwick’s “Fee leveling in DC plans: Disclosure is just the beginning” blog also made our list for the second consecutive year. Genny explains how different fee assessment methodologies, when used with a strategy to normalize revenue sharing among participant accounts, can significantly modify the impact of plan fees in participant accounts.

12. Doug Conkel discusses how the Supreme Court’s decision to rule on Tibble vs. Edison may impact defined contribution plans in his blog “Tibble vs. Edison: What will it mean for plan sponsors and fiduciaries?

11. In her blog “Retirement plan leakage and retirement readiness,” Kara Tedesco discusses some problems created by the outflow of retirement savings. She also provides perspective on how employers can help employees keep money in their plans.

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Auto enrollment errors are expensive

May 15th, 2014 No comments

Auto enrollment is becoming more popular with employers that sponsor defined contribution (DC) plans. This feature can help increase plan participation, enhance retirement outcomes among participants, and improve discrimination testing results. On the other hand, administrative oversights can prove costly.

In this article, Milliman’s Kari Jakobe identifies two common errors administrators commit related to auto enrollment. She also provides two examples showing the monetary effects that result from these mistakes.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

The two most common failures for auto enrollment plans are: 1) failure to notify employees of the plan provision, and 2) failure to enact the auto enrollment and withhold deferrals on a timely basis, or at all. These failures nearly always result from bad data—incorrect date of hire on a payroll file, for example, a miscoded rehire, or a keying error when entering deferral changes into a payroll system. The possibilities are numerous and the corrections can be costly.

In general, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has prescribed corrective action for missed deferrals with less than nine months remaining in the year, requiring the plan sponsor to deposit:

• 50% of missed deferrals
• 100% of missed match
• Earnings at a reasonable interest rate

Consider the scenario shown in Figure 1 of missed deferrals that are due to failure to start the withholding on a timely basis, for a client with a 4% auto enrollment rate and a match formula of 100% up to a maximum of 6% deferred.

Auto enrollment_figure 1

The full correction of $8,937.00 is funded by the employer (not the employee) in the form of a qualified non-elective contribution (QNEC). That means the money is 100% vested immediately and does not count against the 402(g) limit for the participant. Most plan sponsors will choose to communicate the specifics about these corrections via correspondence letters to the affected participants and should be prepared to field an array of resulting questions.

Retirement crisis in the United States: What can be done?

April 10th, 2013 No comments

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, the U.S. population has struggled to recover and/or grow retirement savings. Employers providing defined benefit (DB) plans face overwhelming funding expenses, driven by increased life expectancy, stock market fluctuations, and low interest rates. The latter two factors, resulting from the severe recession and unpredictable economic environment experienced since then, have also severely impacted employers’ ability to fund defined contribution (DC) plans.

Kelly Greene, of the Wall Street Journal, recently discussed this issue and cited the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s latest retirement confidence survey. This study states that the percentage of U.S. workers demonstrating little to no confidence regarding the adequacy of their retirement funds is at an all-time high. Only 13% of workers surveyed report being very confident they have enough saved for retirement and 38% report some confidence in their preparedness. Five years ago, those two figures totaled approximately 70% of workers surveyed. Employers and employees need to work together to remedy this situation. Depending on the design of the plan, the answer could be a defined benefit plan, a defined contribution plan, or a strategic combination of the two.

Possible solutions can be categorized from basic to more radical. One proposal is to convert traditional pension plans to cash balance plans rather than merely freezing them. However, the advantage of this strategy is still diminished by the significant issue of longer life expectancies. Better stock performance and, hopefully, within the next few years, better interest rates will relieve some pressure on benefit obligation expenses. Discussing the results of the Milliman Pension Funding Study released March 25, John Ehrhardt stated that “pension funding status will continue to be tied to interest rates” and “until interest rates move favorably, the pension funding deficit is likely to endure.”

A middle ground solution might be to introduce a profit sharing element to the retirement plan package. There are a few drawbacks to a profit sharing plan, mostly increased administration, but the positives in many cases outweigh the negatives. Profit sharing plans are discretionary and, theoretically, self-funding. These plans tie employee incentives to company growth and form a strong partnership between employers and their employees. With the stock market showing some improvement and the economy demonstrating strengths (Wall Street Journal), companies could, over time, see an upswing in business. Plan sponsors can seize that opportunity and distribute some of those profits to employees, utilizing performance accountability measurements. Other, straightforward strategies include implementing auto enrollment processes and increasing employee retirement plan education. Employees need guidance. They are not professional investors. Companies can meet the challenges of today’s retirement savings environment and take pride in assisting their employees in this venture.

Auto-enrollment by the numbers

November 18th, 2011 No comments

Last week we asked you what you’re doing to encourage employees to enroll in your company’s 401(k) plan. The majority of those who voted in the poll reported using auto-enrollment and/or auto-escalation to encourage participants to participate in their 401(k) plans. We think auto-enrollment is an effective tactic too. Of course, even 100% participation in a 401(k) plan might not be considered a success if plan participants aren’t contributing enough. So this week we’re wondering…

401K enrollment

November 10th, 2011 No comments

With the end of the year coming many 401(k) plan sponsors are gearing up for open enrollment. Now is the time to get your employees motivated to enroll and contribute to your company’s 401(k) plan. But what are the most effective ways to do that? It seems simple, but in difficult times, when many Americans are facing tough trade-offs to make ends meet, it can be hard to get employees to plan for the future. So we’re asking you:

What’s so automatic about auto enrollment?

September 15th, 2011 No comments

If you are a plan sponsor of a defined contribution (DC) retirement plan, I’m sure you have heard the term “automatic enrollment” and I’m sure you have been encouraged by your consultants or advisors to consider it for your DC plan. If you haven’t already added it, you may be sitting there saying to yourself: “Automatic enrollment, why not? It’s automatic, therefore it will save time, improve plan participation, and allow us to focus on other priorities. Done. Simple.” If you have already added it, I’m sure you’re reading that last statement and saying to yourself, “Yes, I thought the same thing.”

I’m not writing to put the kibosh on this design. Quite the contrary. Automatic enrollment has its place and I have recommended it to clients when the pros and cons of adding automatic enrollment were evaluated in the context of the overall design and goal of the employer. But let me be clear on this: unless you are an employee of an auto-enrollment plan that takes absolutely no initiative, there is nothing automatic about auto enrollment.

As a plan sponsor, it is crucial to identify goals. Whether it is improving participation, improving discrimination results, or perhaps improving the benefits to a key set of employees, the goals identified will help to guide design considerations. And if one of these considerations is automatic enrollment, you should be aware of the following:

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Your 401(k) plan has auto-enrollment, now what?

July 13th, 2011 Comments off

Jeff_MarzinskyThere has been a good deal of discussion on success measures for auto-enrollment, and we’ve previously established that by adding auto-enrollment a plan sponsor can immediately make its plan appear to have 100% participation. But is that enough?

Consider the basic fact that participation in a 401(k) plan is only one hurdle in making a retirement plan successful. Is a 3% contribution rate good? It may or may not be. In our recent informal online survey, the results indicated that the most popular rates, as shown in the pie chart below, tend to be those that are just enough to maximize the employer matching contribution, followed by 10% of salary

401(k) auto-enrollment poll

May 2nd, 2011 No comments

The practice of automatic enrollment in a 401(k) has been proven to up the number of people saving for retirement in companies. Still, any time you start tinkering with people’s take-home pay it’s going to be a touchy subject so we thought we’d ask you…

Are automatic enrollment plans a success?

April 12th, 2011 No comments

Jeff_MarzinskyThe short answer to the question is yes. Many studies have indeed indicated that adding automatic enrollment features to a plan helps to facilitate participation rates going up significantly. From that perspective it is certainly a success.

However, sponsors and their employees should not be lulled into a false sense of security that automatic enrollment features will guarantee a retirement nest egg sufficient to meet all of the needs of retirement.

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