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ICI Defined Contribution Plan Recordkeeper Data Show Continued Commitment to Retirement Saving

Washington, DC, February 22, 2018—Almost all defined contribution (DC) plan participants kept contributing to their retirement savings during the first three quarters of last year, according to ICI’s “Defined Contribution Plan Participants’ Activities, First Three Quarters of 2017.” The study tracks contributions, withdrawals, and other activity, based on DC plan recordkeeper data covering more than 30 million participant accounts in employer-based DC plans.

The latest recordkeeper data indicate that savers remain committed to saving for their futures by continuing to contribute to their DC plans. Almost all plan participants contributed to their plans, with only 2.4 percent of DC plan participants discontinuing their contributions in the first three quarters of 2017.

Other findings include:

  • Withdrawal activity for DC plans remained low in the first three quarters of 2017, similar to the activity in the first three quarters of 2016. In the first three quarters of 2017, 2.8 percent of DC plan participants took withdrawals, the same rate as during the first three quarters of 2016. Levels of hardship withdrawal activity also were low, with only 1.3 percent of DC plan participants taking hardship withdrawals during the first three quarters of 2017, compared with 1.2 percent in the first three quarters of 2016. 
  • Most DC plan participants stayed the course in their asset allocations, as stock values rose during the first nine months of the year. In the first three quarters of 2017, 8.0 percent of DC plan participants changed the asset allocation of their account balances, and 4.8 percent changed the asset allocation of their contributions. Account balance reallocation activity was little changed and contribution reallocation activity was slightly lower than observed during the first three quarters of 2016.
  • DC plan participants’ loan activity in September 2017 was similar to the activity earlier in the year. At the end of September 2017, 16.7 percent of DC plan participants had loans outstanding, compared with 17.0 percent at the end of September 2016.

ICI has been tracking participant activity through recordkeeper surveys since 2008. This update provides results from ICI’s survey of a cross section of recordkeeping firms representing a broad range of DC plans. Please visit ICI’s 401(k) Resource Center for more information.