10. Consultants │ Score: 78 │ No. of companies: 12,328. The firms in the consulting space dropped one spot from last year. Year over year, employee contributions declined slightly, coming in at $12 per participant less than last year. The average account balance for consultants grew by $6,945. (Photo: Shutterstock)
9. Mining and Utilities │ Score: 68 │ No. of companies: 4,637. The mining and utilities group improved one spot from last year. The group enjoyed above-average gains in contributions from both employees and employers, and the median average account balance increase of $6,926 was also quite high, according to Judy Diamond. (Photo: Shutterstock)
8. Physicians │ Score: 51 │ No. of companies: 37,729. Physicians’ rank dropped two spots from last year. This decline was driven primarily by the fact that their overall rate of return was ranked 25th, although Judy Diamond notes the difference between 1st and last in that category is only about 2%. (Photo: Shutterstock)
7. Engineering │ Score: 51 │ No. of companies: 8,766. Year over year, engineering firms had an above average increase in both account balance and both employee/employer contribution rates. According to Judy Diamond, participation rate for engineers is remarkably consistent, only fluctuating between 92% at the high end and 83% at the low end. (Photo: Shutterstock)
6. Insurance Providers/Brokers │ Score: 44 │ No. of companies: 10,195. This group of insurance providers and brokers dropped one spot from last year. Participation and employer contributions were flat year over year, though employee contributions increased by a respectable $99 per participant. (Photo: Shutterstock)


5. Financial and Insurance Services │ Score: 34 │ No. of companies: 14,899. The financial and insurance services more than doubled its size from the roughly 7,000 companies included in this grouping last year. This is again due to the DOL guidance in their instructions to the Form 5500. (Photo: Shutterstock)
4. Dentists | Score: 33 │ No. of companies: 29,889. Dentists ranked fourth overall for the third year in a row. The dental industry grouping is unique in that 95% of Dental plans contain fewer than 25 participants, with a full two thirds having fewer than 10. (Photo: Shutterstock)
3. Lawyers and Legal Services │Score: 25 │ No. of companies: 27,723. The legal services category gained two spots over last year’s fifth place finish. Year over year, lawyers enjoyed strong gains in their average account balance, while having average improvements in participation rate and contributions. (Photo: Shutterstock)
2. Financial Advice/Investment Activities │Score: 23 │ No. of companies: 2,368. The number of firms in this group decreased from about 11,000 last year. This decline is largely driven by new guidance issued by the Department of Labor in their instructions to the Form 5500. Many firms who had classified themselves in the financial advice/investment bucket have since moved themselves over to the financial and insurance services category. (Photo: Shutterstock)
1. Certified Public Accountants │ Score: 22 │ No. of companies: 7,606. For the third year in a row, the CPA industry ranks first out of the 27 industries analyzed. Year over year, CPAs saw the third highest increase in average account balance with a gain of $12,961. (Photo: Shutterstock)


(Related: 2019 401(k) Plan Benchmark Report)

The industries with the best 401(k) plans have a few similarities: many of them are “white collar” industries with positions that usually require postgraduate degrees for a significant portion of the workforce and employees that are compensated well.

Judy Diamond Associates, a business unit of ALM Media, the parent company of ThinkAdvisor, released its 401k Benchmark report, which tracks the overall performance of 401(k) plans by industry and size of company.

The goal of the report is to provide an objective, data-oriented view of different industries, how their collective 401(k) plans are performing, and how that compares to other industry groupings.

The report surveyed 27 industries in total. To calculate how these industries rank overall, Judy Diamond examined seven different metrics of plan performance: average account balance, participation rate, rate of return, employee contributions, employer contributions, plan score and employee longevity.

Each industry group was assigned its rank of 1-27 in each category based off the median overall industry value for each metric. The metrics were then collectively examined, and the industry with the best — or lowest — overall score was ranked No. 1.

For this report, Judy Diamond examined approximately 520,000 active 401(k) plans with at least $3,000 in plan assets and at least one active plan participant. This data comes from the 2017 plan year, and represents the most recent data available. These plans cover about 66 million eligible workers (of whom 45 million are actively participating) and about 14 million retirees who maintain a plan balance. In total, this equates to more than $5.3 trillion in assets.

The data for this report originated with the U.S. government’s Form 5500 ERISA disclosure form, a plan document that is a required filing for every 401(k) plan in the country with two or more participants.

Have a look at the gallery to see the top 10 industries for 401(k) plans.

(Check out the 2019 401(k) Plan Benchmark Report)

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