The average account balances for participants in 401(k) plans for which Fidelity Investments is record keeper reached a record high of $77,300 for the quarter ended Dec. 31, confirmed Michael Shamrell, a Fidelity spokesman.
About two-thirds of the 11.9% gain between the average $69,100 balance for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011, and the fourth quarter of 2012 was due to market appreciation, Mr. Shamrell said in an e-mail.
The rest of the gain was due to “employee contributions and employer contributions as well as other transactions, such as loans and withdrawals,” Mr. Shamrell wrote. “It's basically a net number reflecting everything except market action and automatic reinvestment of dividends and capital gains.”
The previous quarterly nominal record was $75,900 for the third quarter of 2012, according to a Fidelity news release issued Thursday. Adjusting for inflation, the quarter ended March 31, 2000, had the highest average balance at $83,578.
The release said the average annual participant deferral is 8% of salary, but that savings rate climbs to 12% when employer contributions — matches or profit sharing — are included.
The news release also said that for the 15th straight quarter, more participants increased — 5.8% — their savings rate than decreased — 3.1% — their savings rate.
Fidelity's analysis is based on records of 12 million participants in about 20,500 plans for which Fidelity is a record keeper.