Industry Providers Encouraged to Collaborate on Portability

Retirement plan service providers are putting their heads together on solving retirement account portability issues. 

By John Manganaro | September 06, 2016
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Given her role as State Street Global Advisors’ head of defined contribution (DC) plan participant engagement, Megan Yost spends a lot of time analyzing not just how retirement plans are designed—but also how they can be improved to meet the needs and expectations of real people.

Yost, who says her organization “supports all efforts to make retirement more accessible, straightforward and achievable for Americans of all backgrounds and income levels,” recently got a chance to present some of her beliefs and recommendations to the ERISA Advisory Council, during a late-August meeting called to discuss portability issues in the U.S. DC savings system.

Yost tells PLANSPONSOR she found the whole experience of speaking before the council and of hearing other experts called from across the retirement industry “extremely encouraging.” She feels the ERISA Advisory Council, in a word, is committed to finding new and innovative ways to prevent workers from losing their hard-earned savings to poor decisionmaking at so-called inflection points in the retirement savings lifecycle—changing jobs, facing unexpected financial emergencies, etc.—and to improve their retirement savings outcomes overall. 

“There was pretty clearly a consensus at the hearing that is extremely important to allow people to have more choice and flexibility and ease when looking to consolidate DC accounts,” Yost says. “There is a real appreciation that the retirement savings journey needs to match the increasingly fluid and self-directed career paths that many individuals follow.”

Looking across everything she heard during the day, she now believes most people across the industry “really think keeping money in-plan is important for the future.”

“Everyone is looking at ways they can contribute to this end goal,” she says, “which is so critically important because none of us as individual providers can do this unilaterally. It’s a fairly complex issue and even more complex than I think a lot of people assume on the surface. There is a lot of operational complexity to be taken into account, and then there is also the task of marrying the processes with the user perception and experience.”

NEXT: What greater portability looks like