From the July 2009 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

July 1, 2009

More From the Silver Lining Department

The bad news: unemployment is still growing. The good news: the unemployed are rolling over their 401(k)s.

Here's another silver lining of sorts that's come out of the recession--at least for advisors and maybe even for the growing ranks of the unemployed: "Millions of laid off employees equals millions of new eligible accounts to roll over," according to Luis Fleites, VP and director of retirement markets for Financial Research Corp. (FRC).

Moderating a panel at the Pershing InSite conference on June 4 with David Stocker, an advisor at Wealth Strategies Inc. in Muncie, Indiana, and Beau Adams, executive VP for business development at Benefit Consultants Group, based in Delran, New Jersey, Fleites noted that 29% of defined contribution plan distributions cash out. Moreover, he argued, not only is there an opportunity to gain control of those rollover assets, but "the rollover experience can result in asset consolidation."

Stocker noted that the research shows that a good retirement plan at work benefits the employer as well as the employee. "Workers who feel more comfortable about their retirement planning," he pointed out, "are much better, happier workers."

In a separate interview, Fleites admitted that while the "elements of retirement income planning are complex, they're also basic": Set a baseline for what the clients want to do, write a plan, and monitor it. However, he noted that a rising challenge for advisors is the "capacity issue," wondering "how many clients can you actually serve" who are in retirement?

As for the likelihood of consumers building up their retirement portfolios to where they were before the recession and market swoon of 2008, Fleites said that "people do adjust, and have changed their lifestyles" to reflect the lower value of those portfolios, though his research shows that only "limited" numbers of workers have stopped contributing to their 401(k)s.

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