This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Retirement-Savings Picture Improves

Stocks in this article: BAC

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Maybe it's the stock market, which is up over 14,330 points this week.

Or possibly, it's the value of U.S. homes, where the median price is up 12% from January 2012 to January 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Whatever the cause, Americans are starting to feel a little better about their personal financial situations, and that is triggering a more aggressive approach to retirement savings.

A report on 401(k) savings plans this week shows that U.S. financial consumers are "taking positive action" with their retirement accounts.

The quarterly study, called the 401(k) Wellness Scorecard, is from Bank of America (BAC) and Merrill Lynch.

It shows that in the fourth quarter of 2012, 81% of U.S. workers either started a 401(k) plan or bulked up their contributions (what survey researchers describe as "positive" action.) Only 19% of employees took what the survey describes as negative actions, including taking a loan out from their 401(k) or decreasing plan contributions.

In fact, the study points out that 401(k) loans declined by 5% in the quarter, suggesting that Americans are more financially stable than in 2008 and 2009, the heart of the Great Recession.

A big part of that generally positive trend is the help employees are getting from employers, who are doing a better job of promoting 401(k) plans to employees. To keep momentum rolling, the Bank of America study says companies need to do even more to get employees involved in their retirement plans.

"HR professionals and financial services providers must continue to work together to protect and improve our retirement system by taking every step possible to help employees start early and continue on a path toward financial wellness," says Kevin Crain, head of institutional retirement and benefits services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "By empowering them to get the most out of their plans, employees can take greater control of their financial future."

Automatic enrollment plans are helping. The study says 52% of companies offering 401(k) automatic enrollment now also offer automatic plan increases. Year-to-year, company usage of automatic increases are up 17%.

In addition, companies are calling in employees for meetings on retirement planning more often. The Bank of America report says 30% more companies were hosting such meetings over the past year compared with 2011, and that employee attendance was up 22%.

"While it can be difficult for employees to improve their retirement saving and investing behaviors, employers can play an important role in fostering an environment that aids such positive change," explains Michael Liersch, director of behavioral finance for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "Through targeted communications and allowing them time, when possible, to attend face-to-face meetings and receive financial advice at work, companies can help employees achieve more successful outcomes and improve their long-term financial security."

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs