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Participants taking command of retirement

Originally posted August 20, 2013 by Tristan Lejeune on http://ebn.benefitnews.com

In a recent, nationwide survey of more than 1,000 401(k) plan participants, the majority of respondents seem aware that they are primarily on their own for their retirement saving, and they plan to rely mostly on their defined contribution plan to get there. However, according to the Schwab poll, many find information on their 401(k) confusing and lack confidence on managing their retirement savings.

Almost nine out of 10 survey respondents (89%) say they are planning to rely on themselves for retirement, and only 5% say they’ll rely mostly on government spending after they stop working full time.

Sixty-one percent say their 401(k) plan is their only or largest source of retirement savings. Most have upped their savings rate in the past two years (55%) and 70% say their plan is in better shape now than ever before. Seventy-four percent of respondents say their DC plan has recovered from the financial crisis at least as quickly as they expected, if not faster.

Still, many participants find their plans overwhelming. More than half find explanations of their 401(k) investments more confusing than those of their health care, 61% want personalized investment advice and 57% wish there was an easier way to figure out how to choose their investments.

Nearly two-thirds (64%), if given a $5,000 bonus, would save it in their 401(k) rather than take it as cash.

Investment confidence nearly doubles, from 32% to 61%, when workers have the help of a financial professional.

“Getting more workers engaged in professional 401(k) advice should be a top priority for employers. We’ve seen the positive impact it can have on both behaviors and outcomes,” says Steve Anderson, head of Schwab Retirement Plan Services.