Amid the volatility of U.S. electoral politics, participants in defined contribution plans say they have other things on their minds, according to plan sponsors and DC consultants.
They say some of the more common questions from participants are: When will the company match be restored? Are they saving enough? How should they allocate their retirement funds? What should they do if furloughed? What's the best strategy for withdrawing funds?
DC consultants and sponsors say that while some inquiries this fall were linked to the presidential election, more appear to be based on issues that have usually been on participants' mind, and that the election — as well as the coronavirus pandemic — served as catalysts for them to seek answers.
"People wanted to do something but not many said it was urgent," said Kelli Send, principal and senior vice president for participant services at plan consultant Francis Investment Counsel LLC, Brookfield, Wis.
Among 571 participants' questions asked of the firm's advisers between October and mid-November, the biggest participant concern focused on allocation strategies, Ms. Send said. However, only a small percentage of the allocation-strategy group said they were very concerned about the stock market. "I can't tell if this was just concern or concern about the election," Ms. Send said.
Other prominent participants' questions to the advisers during this period covered adequate savings; comparing a Roth plan vs. a traditional pre-tax retirement plan; budgeting; and debt repayment.
For those who did cite electoral politics, Ms. Send said it was her and advisers' observations that participant concerns appeared to focus on President-elect Joseph Biden and what might happen during a Biden administration. Four years ago, political-oriented concerns focused on the possible effects of Donald Trump's election.
"I think it reflects the very nature of the investor uncertainty caused by national elections resulting in the fear that policies may change if your guy doesn't win," she said.