By Hal M. Bundrick
NEW YORK (MainStreet) ¿ Employer sponsored 401(k) plans have been taking a beating lately. Not necessarily in performance, but in public perception. Concerns about high fees, investment choices, plan options and employee participation have dominated retirement plan discussions. But are 401(k) plans working? With $7.8 trillion dollars in so-called "defined contribution" (DC) retirement accounts and IRA rollovers, it's an important question to ask.
Let's take a reality check on five prevailing myths about 401(k)s:
Myth #1: 401(k) plans are poor performers
"Those critical of the DC system in the past thought that the system would collapse during a sharp economic downturn," says Bob Benish, executive director of the Plan Sponsor Council of America. "They were wrong. Was the system impacted the same way everything else in the economy was? Sure, but it is recovering and becoming stronger as both companies and participants are refocusing on saving and looking at more holistic approaches to financial wellness."
Myth #2: Most employees don't participate
The PSCA annually surveys employer-sponsored retirement plans across the country and says results show participation rates, deferral rates and company contributions have grown over the last couple of years and are now equal to or higher than they were before the recession. 87.6% of eligible employees have a balance in their 401(k) plan.
Myth #3: Participants don't save enough
Whether or not an individual is saving enough to support their preferred retirement lifestyle is a matter for debate, but on average U.S. 401(k) participants are saving more -- setting aside 6.8% of pay in their company's retirement plan. That's up from 6.4% in 2011, and 6.2% in 2010.