The ForUsAll advisory team regularly benchmarks clients’ success against employee participation and savings rates. These metrics show the percent of eligible employees who save into the retirement plan, and the percent of their salaries that they save. After the latest round of benchmarking, we thought we’d see how we stacked up against the jumbo plans in the 2016 Plan Sponsor Council of America Annual Survey.

As with most retirement experts, we consider strong participation and savings rates hallmarks of high employee engagement and positive retirement savings behavior.

With fewer resources, smaller businesses have traditionally lagged behind larger companies in their benefit strategies and were often unable to employ plan design practices such as automatic enrollment and automatic savings rate escalation. Utilizing theories from Harvard public policy professor and behavioral economist Brigitte Madrian, ForUsAll deployed plan design and technology that brought these best-in-class plan features to small and medium-sized businesses.

The results of the ForUsAll plan design were measured against industry averages published in the 2016 Plan Sponsor Council of America Annual Survey. The PSCA survey measures participation rates, savings rates, employer contribution matching rates and more on an annual basis. The 58th annual PSCA survey featured responses by executives from 592 plans with combined assets of $785 billion and covered 8.8 million participants – that’s an average $1.3 billion per plan.

PSCA 401(k) Survey vs. ForUsAll 401(k) Plan Results

Sponsors using the ForUsAll platform are able to leverage the team’s experience and technology to achieve results consistent with Fortune 500 companies.

PARTICIPATION RATE****

ForUsAll retirement plan consultants use smart plan design and a proprietary technology platform to help employers offer plans with elements that improve participation and savings rates – namely automatic enrollment, automatic savings rates escalations and automated, mobile on-boarding and employee education through “DAVE,” ForUsAll’s award-winning virtual advisor.

SAVINGS RATE

The modern model has proven that traditional 401(k) enrollment likely suffers because it is stuck in an outdated “lunch and learn” paradigm, which is not well suited to today’s mobile workforce.ForUsAll’s mobile-friendly design contributes to higher savings rates, sparking a better onboarding experience that works for everyone from the traditional office employees to distributed employees who can onboard via text messages using their mobile phones. This has led to a 6.8% savings rate, a full point higher than the PSCA survey results revealed.

High savings rates improve employee financial wellness, help employees prepare for retirement, and indicate employee support for the 401(k) plan.

PORTION OF COMPANIES THAT OFFER A MATCH/CONTRIBUTION

Larger companies, represented in the PSCA survey responses, often offer matches and retirement contributions to make their benefits packages more attractive to employees. While great for attracting and retaining top talent, a company match is an expensive way to boost employee engagement in the 401(k) plan. Smaller businesses, like the ones represented in the ForUsAll client base, often can’t afford to offer a company match.

This table proves that a company match is not necessary to achieve high participation and savings rates.

Final thoughts

The PSCA survey offers a window into how large plans are succeeding and sets a goal for smaller companies to try to hit.

The results from ForUsAll 401(k) plans show that small and medium-sized businesses can not only compete with their larger counterparts, but achieve substantially higher participation and savings rates, even in traditionally harder-to-engage employee population groups.

Methodology

ForUsAll examined data from the 58th Annual PSCA Survey against approximately 180 companies in its client database to compare: savings rates, participation rates, and number of companies that offer contributions or matches. The data is as of September 2016.