The use of target-date funds in 401(k) plans continues to grow, according to a report released today by the Investment Company Institute and the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
At the end of 2012, 41 percent of 401(k) participants held target-date funds, compared with 39 percent in 2011 and up from 19 percent in 2006, the report says.
The amount of assets invested in target-date funds also is up, increasing to 15 percent by the end of 2012 from 13 percent in 2011 and 5 percent in 2006, according to the report, 401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2012.
Target-date fund use varies across 401(k) participant age. Younger participants are more likely to hold target-date funds and those funds represent a much larger share of their 401(k) assets. As of the end of 2012, 52 percent of 401(k) plan participants in their 20s held target-date funds, and the funds made up 34 percent of their 401(k) assets. For participants in their 60s, 34 percent held target-date funds and 13 percent of their assets were in those funds.
Plan participants have remained invested in equities. At the end of 2012, 61 percent of 401(k) plan participants’ accounts were invested in equities through equity funds, the equity portion of target-date funds, the equity portion of non-target-date balanced funds, and company stock.
Younger participants had higher concentrations in equities. Participants in their 20s and 30s had nearly three-quarters of 401(k) assets in equities, while those in their 60s had less than half of their 401(k) assets in equities.
“Fears that retirement savers would abandon equities in the wake of the financial crisis have not been borne out by the data,” says Sarah Holden, ICI senior director of retirement and investor research. “Target-date funds are playing an important role for 401(k) investors, particularly for younger participants, by maintaining age-appropriate concentrations in equities.”
The study shows that at the end of 2012, 21 percent of all 401(k) participants who were eligible for loans had loans outstanding against their 401(k) accounts, which has remained steady for four years.
The average 401(k) account balance was $63,929 and the median $17,630.