funds have grown in popularity over the past decade, with Vanguard finding that more than half of
401(k) investors are invested in a single target-date fund. According to the
"How America Saves 2018" annual defined contribution benchmarking
report from one of the world's largest fund managers, the current level
represents significant growth, as only 13% of 401(k) participants were invested
in a single target-date fund 10 years ago.
have revolutionized investing for millions of Americans, providing a ready-made,
diversified portfolio for retirement savers," said Martha King, managing
director and head of the Vanguard Institutional Investor Group, in a press release last week highlighting the
results of the research. "Many participants lack the time, willingness,
and expertise to build and manage their retirement portfolios, and TDFs offer a
professionally-managed investment option at a very low cost." By 2022,
Vanguard predicts that 77% of 401(k) investors will be invested in a single
Target-date funds, which
tend to become more conservative the closer the investor gets to retirement,
have changed the investment patterns of those saving for retirement, with the
investment product increasing diversification and deterring trading, Vanguard
said. Vanguard has long subscribed to a buy-and-hold philosophy, and
target-date funds dovetail with that view. The fund company noted that, when
constructing retirement portfolios on their own, around 10% of retirement
savers tend to have "extreme" allocations, but with the advent of
target date funds, three-quarters of 401(k) participants now have diversified
portfolios. That's up from half of participants a decade ago. What's more,
Vanguard said that target-date funds help investors "stay the
course," with only 2% of target-date fund investors executing a trade
during all of last year.
Driving the growth of
target-date funds over the past decade has been the advent of automatic
enrollment, which Vanguard found tripled in the past 10 years to close to half
of all plans. Plans with automatic enrollment have a 92% participation rate
compared with a 57% participation rate for those plans that a retirement saver
has to opt in to. "More people are participating in their
employer-sponsored 401(k) plan than ever before, and saving at a healthy rate
of about 10%," said Jean Young, senior research analyst at the Vanguard
Center for Investor Research and lead author of "How America Saves,"
in the same press release. "After over a decade of leading this research,
it's gratifying to see meaningful advances in plan design have such a tangible,
positive impact on retirement savings for participants."
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