According to information released at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing in October, retirement savings accounts have lost about $2 trillion in value over the last year.
Fifty-six million Americans save for retirement through defined contribution plans, Mr. Stevens said.
About $3 trillion were in 401(k) accounts at the end of March, and about half of that money was in mutual funds, according to ICI data.
The ICIs research found that among 3,000 households surveyed from late October into December, more than 70% supported the tax incentives available for defined contribution plans, and almost 90% did not want the government to take over investment decisions for the accounts.
The latter issue was discussed at the Labor and Education hearing in October.
Mr. Stevens supported the idea of automatic individual retirement accounts, under which all employers would be required to allow workers to contribute to IRAs directly from their paychecks.
Calling shoring up Social Security job one, Mr. Stevens said that while he did not endorse any specific plan to fix the system, he and the ICI do not I repeat, do not advocate privatizing or personal accounts for Social Security.
Turning to employer-sponsored retirement plans generally and defined benefit plans specifically, Mr. Stevens said DB plans are not the answer to the insecurity created by todays markets.
To back up his claim, he pointed out that DB plans were never universal, they do not offer immunity from market turmoil and workers only earn significant benefits through a DB plan by staying with one employer for many years.
But todays typical worker will hold seven or more jobs in his or her career, he said. For todays mobile American worker, traditional pensions can be a poor fit.
Defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s and others, however, offer flexibility, control, and portability all very desirable characteristics for a mobile work force, Mr. Stevens added. And our studies indicate that as the 401(k) system matures, todays young workers can expect to replace much of their working income through the combination of savings in their plans and Social Security benefits.
He suggested that attempts to provide more-direct investment advice to workers in 401(k) plans be increased.
Mr. Miller and other members of his committee have said they will oppose a Labor Department proposal that would allow advisers affiliated with mutual funds and other companies that sell investments in the plans to provide advice.
Sara Hansard is a reporter at InvestmentNews, a sister publication of Pensions & Investments