Third-quarter market volatility, especially in August, hit retirement account balances hard, Fidelity Investment’s analysis of 401(k) and IRA savings shows.
The average 401(k) balance fell to $84,400 at the end of the third quarter from $91,100 in the previous quarter.
A year ago, the average balance was $89,100.
IRA balances fell to $88,700 at the end of September from $96,300 at the end of June, and from $92,100 a year earlier.
Fidelity said in a statement released Friday that it had received a record number of online and telephone requests for help and guidance from its customers in the third quarter.
Between Aug. 23 and Aug. 29, Fidelity fielded some 16 million online inquiries from retirement account investors, and on Monday, Aug. 24 — when the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average closed in a correction — it responded to more than 160,000 phone calls.
The Dow fell by more than 1,500 points in August.
Fidelity said customers asked about how to manage their investments during volatile periods, the possible reasons for recent market drops and the pitfalls of converting to all cash.
Despite their concerns, most investors did not significantly change their asset allocation or the amount of their contributions.