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Most 401(k) participants have recovered since 2008

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Most 401(k) participants say their employer-sponsored retirement plans have recovered in value since the market crash of 2008, according to a new report.

Charles Schwab discloses this finding in an August 2013 survey of 1,004 401(k) plan participants, ages 25-75, who work for companies with 25-plus employees that have 401(k) plans. 

Nearly half (49 percent) of the participants surveyed say their 401(k) plan is “about where I had expected it be” and an additional 25 percent observe their 401(k) has recovered faster than what they had expected. Just 17 percent of those polled indicate their plan has not yet recovered; an additional 3 percent and 6 percent, respectively, say their plan “never declined” or note they didn’t have a 401(k) prior to the 2008 recession.

Nearly all of the survey respondents say they are relying on themselves (89 percent) or their spouses (four percent) for their retirement nest egg. Of the minority who indicate they depend on “someone else,” five percent point to the government; an additional one percent are expecting an inheritance from parents or relatives.

Solid majorities of those polled, the report indicates, agree with the following statements:

My 401(k) is in better shape today than ever before (70 percent)

I would like personalized investment advice for my 401(k) (61 percent)

I wish I had an easier way to know how to choose the investments for my 401(k)

The survey adds that plan participants are more likely to be confident in 401(k) investment decisions informed by professional help (61 percent) than when relying on themselves (32 percent). The respondents also highlight the following as advantages of having low-cost personalized professional 401(k) investment advice:

Access to personalized advice to fit one’s planning needs (53 percent)

Feel better about doing the right thing for one’s family (27 percent)

Access to advice that cannot be found anywhere else (21 percent)

Save time on planning (18 percent)