The government and policymakers must work together if the 401(k) plan is going to remain the dominant private-sector device for retirement savings, said Paul Schott Stevens, president of the Investment Company Institute (ICI), at the ICI's 50th annual conference May 7.
Stevens urged retirement plan participants with mutual fund investments to "stay the course" in these tough times for the markets. He noted that the average account balance of workers who remained in the same 401(k) plan from 1999 to 2006--a period that included a serious bear market--jumped nearly 80%, from $67,800 to $121,000 including contributions.
Indeed, James Riepe, senior advisor and retired vice chairman of T. Rowe Price, who moderated a panel discussion on the retirement market May 8, noted that the size of the retirement market is huge, with $18 trillion now invested in tax-deferred retirement accounts. This figure, he said, does not include the trillions more that are invested in taxable retirement accounts. ICI released figures at the conference the same day, which stated that at year-end 2007, investors held $9.2 trillion in IRAs and defined contribution plans, which accounts for about half of the retirement market.