It was recently announced that the top 1 percent of plans hold more than 71 percent of all 401(k) assets nationwide. That’s according to Judy Diamond Associates, the 401(k) plan intelligence provider of financial advisors, brokers and fund companies. 

JDA found that, in the fourth quarter of 2013, there were approximately 500,000 active 401(k) plans with a collective $3.5 trillion in total assets. Further, nearly 75 percent, or $2.54 trillion, was controlled by the top 1 percent (5,000 companies). The other 99 percent (495,000 companies) of all 401(k) plans nationwide control only 29 percent of the total assets. 

“This concentration of assets among such a small pool of plans gives large employers an outsize influence on the retirement market,” said Eric Ryles, managing director of Judy Diamond Associates. “Our research showed that fewer than two-tenths of one percent of 401(k) plan sponsors are responsible for fully half of our nation’s 401(k) retirement plan assets. That’s only 630 very large companies controlling $1.75 trillion in assets.”

So what does this mean for the market? According to JDA, the “staggering concentration” of responsibility for the nation’s 401(k) retirement assets means that any shifts in investments for a small number of plans could have an impact on every aspect of the market. 

Plans Assets Volume
Mega plans $2.54T  71.10% 5k 1%
All other plans $1T  28.9%  495k 99%
All plans $3.5T 100% 500k 100%