BOSTON -- The Internet no longer is the toy of computer geeks, academics and journalists. A growing number of people are using it to manage their 401(k) accounts, according to a survey of 1,116 Internet users who called Fidelity Investments about their 401(k) plans.
Nearly half -- 46% -- of 401(k) plan participants now use the Internet to manage their personal finances, including their 401(k)s, the survey stated.
These days, more 401(k) participants contact Fidelity on its NetBenefits online system than by telephone, said Kathryn Hopkins, executive vice president of Fidelity Institutional Retirement Services Co., Marlborough, Mass. The company receives 100,000 online contacts daily, she added.
Of the participants who reported using the Internet for personal finances, 85% use it to check stock quotes; 75% to check 401(k) balances; and 49% to perform 401(k) transactions, survey data revealed. About 40% of respondents use the Internet to trade in their mutual fund or brokerage accounts, and 36% use it for retirement planning, the survey indicated.
Close to 76% of participants who use the Internet to conduct transactions reported going online daily or weekly -- and 19% monthly -- to manage their personal finances. The largest group -- more than one-third -- said they are online only at home. Half are online both at work and at home; and 16% at work only.
About 47% of respondents are between the ages of 35 and 50; 31% are younger than 35; and 22% are older than 50, the survey stated.
While Internet communications between plan sponsors and participants are growing, a recent Buck Consulting survey revealed written communications are still the most widely used method. And only 19% of employers had employees' personal computers linked to the Internet, it indicated.