SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said in an early December speech that the Commission will present early next year its recommendations on target date funds. Investors, employers, and regulators received a "wake-up call," Schapiro said, when target date funds marketed to 2010 retirees lost between 9% and 41% of their values last year.
MetLife and Fidelity Investments have introduced a new deferred variable annuity product designed for individuals who are either retired or transitioning to retirement. The MetLife Growth and Guaranteed Income (MGGI) variable annuity is distributed exclusively through Fidelity and is the only deferred variable annuity with a living benefit sold through the company. The companies say they partnered because an increasing number of Americans are seeking strategies to help them maximize and protect their incomes in retirement. For instance, the companies note that a MetLife/Harris Interactive poll conducted in September showed that as a result of the recent economic downturn, 68% of Americans are placing a much greater importance on protecting their portfolios against market losses than on participating in stock market gains. "MGGI allows individuals approaching or living in retirement to use a portion of their assets, either from a 401(k), 403(b), IRA or other savings, to purchase guaranteed lifetime income for an individual or for his or her spouse," the companies say.
Meanwhile, Fidelity Investments found that the average 401(k) account balance rose nearly 13% to $60,700 by the end of the third quarter from the end of the prior quarter, and increased 28% from the end of the first quarter low of $47,500. "The two consecutive quarters of gains in the equity markets in 2009 also had a positive impact on both the shorter-term, as well as the longer-term, investment returns for 401(k) participants," Fidelity reports. Fidelity also revealed that of the 8% of companies that either reduced or suspended their company match earlier this year, many are now reinstating matching programs as the economy begins to show signs of recovery. Of the plan sponsors that either lowered or suspended their match, 27% of those employers said they have already reinstated the match or plan to reinstate it in 2010, Fidelity says.