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Feds’ 401(k) Annuity Proposals: Baby Steps (CFO)

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Proposed new rules aimed at giving 401(k) plan participants more options to invest in annuities providing a guaranteed lifetime income stream may prompt some plan sponsors to offer such investments. But the proposals laid out jointly by the Labor and Treasury departments on February 2 don’t go nearly far enough to persuade a majority to do so, experts say. So, just what are the changes? For one, new rules for calculating annuity payouts that could make plan sponsors more willing to offer the option to put part of one’s retirement savings into an annuity while taking the rest in cash. The other key proposal would make it easier for plan sponsors to offer “longevity” annuities. Such products offer participants the chance to defer up to 25% of their account balances into an annuity that starts paying out further into retirement, such as at age 80 or 85. Critics say the proposed measures are baby steps that do not address the most important factors keeping plan sponsors from offering guaranteed retirement income products.

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