For the second year in a row, Saudi Arabian Oil Co.'s 401(k) plan placed first in an annual ranking of 401(k) plans by BrightScope, a San Diego firm that analyzes 401(k) plans on factors ranging from salary deferrals to fees to investment menu options. “There weren't that many surprises” in the top 30, said Mike Alfred, CEO and co-founder of BrightScope, which uses more than 200 data points within six broad categories to create its ranking.
Ranked behind the $1.39 billion Savings Plan of the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., with U.S. headquarters in Houston, are the $1.69 billion Southern California Permanente Medical Group Retirement Plan, Pasadena, Calif.; $1.61 billion Southwest Airline Pilots' Retirement Savings Plan, Dallas; $2.03 billion Amgen Retirement and Savings Plan, Thousand Oaks, Calif.; and $3 billion United Airlines Pilots' Directed Account Plan, Chicago. Asset data were as of Dec. 31, 2009.
The categories in BrightScope's rating system are total plan cost; investment quality and design; size of the average participant account balance; average salary deferral for each participant; participation rate; and company generosity, which BrightScope defines as a combined corporate match, vesting schedules and eligibility periods. A perfect score is 100. The Saudi plan received a 93.17, the only plan to exceed 90. Southern California Permanente's plan got a 89.96. BrightScope's analysis is based on public data. All top 30 plans have at least $1 billion in assets.