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Participation Rate In 401(k) Plans Greater For Men Than Women, Wells Fargo Finds

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) announced today key trends among the 4 million eligible employees for whom the firm provided an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan in 2013. In a review of data compiled from 2,036 companies where gender was indicated, about half of all men (49%) and four out of 10 women (43%) are enrolled in their workplace retirement plan. When compared to Wells Fargo’s recommended contribution index, which measures how many people are saving a minimum target of 10% in their 401(k) plan, including employer match, 43% of men contribute at this rate versus 39% of women.

Employees who contributed to their 401(k) plans saw their average balances rise 19% and 35% over the past two years, largely due to stock market gains.

“In general, all men and women need to take full advantage of their workplace retirement plan and embrace the 401(k) as the primary retirement benefit,” said Joe Ready, director of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust. “In our view, if people have access to a 401(k) they should try to save at least 10%. The power of saving regularly, coupled with the compounding effect of time, can create a financial foundation for people that results in much greater retirement security.”

Although the data show fewer women participating in plans, the investments that women choose appear to be slightly more diversified with 70% of women meeting a minimum level of diversification – a minimum of two equities and a fixed fund and less than 20% in employer stock – in their 401(k) account investments versus 67% of men. The difference has been stable for the last two years. One potential driver of this difference in diversification is the use of managed investment options: 74% of women have money in managed investments, versus 71% of men.

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