Top 401(k) Plans of 2010

Southwest Airlines, Federal Express, Credit Suisse move up in rankings, according to research firm BrightScope

Retirement research firm BrightScope announced its annual ranking of the top defined contribution plans Wednesday. The list covers 401(k) plans with more than $1 billion in assets.

The Savings Plan of Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is No. 1 for the second year in a row. Making its first appearance on list, Southern California Permanente Medical Group Retirement Plan comes in at No. 2. The Southwest Airlines Pilots' Retirement Savings Plan is up one spot from its 2009 rank, to No. 3 on the year’s list.

According to BrightScope, it receives its data directly from plan sponsors and record keepers, and augments these primary sources with data from publicly available sources such as the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The data points examined cover categories such as total plan cost, company generosity and investment menu quality.

“The list looks like what you would expect; lots of big pharmaceuticals and big oil given that they are so profitable and have highly paid employees,” said Mike Alfred, CEO and co‐founder of BrightScope, when asked about surprises in this year’s list. “People are surprised companies like Google didn’t make the list, which is only because they have not reached the $1 billion mark in plan assets as of their last filing, but Google will easily make, say, the top 20 plans next year.”

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