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403(b) Plans Remarkably Healthy After Recession, New Regs

New 2010 Survey from Profit Sharing/401k Council of America Shows Resilience of 403(b) Sponsors and Participants

May 11, 2010 (Des Moines, IA) - Despite a potentially crushing recession and a spate of complex new regulations, the 403(b) retirement plan system appears to be healthier than ever.

Findings of the just-released 2010 403(b) Plan Survey from the Profit Sharing/401k Council of America (PSCA) indicate that plan sponsors are adjusting well to the new regulations imposed by the IRS —and that participation and retirement account balances remain high.

Sponsored by the Principal Financial Group®, the study shows that nearly 57 percent of plan sponsors made changes to their 403(b) plans because of new regulations. That is a higher percentage than had planned to make changes (41%), according to the 2008 403(b) Plan Survey.

The survey also revealed that the overall participation rate for employees eligible to participate in a 403(b) plan remained unchanged from the 2008 survey (75.8%).

"This year's 403(b) Plan Survey proves the resilience of the 403(b) system," says David Wray, president of PSCA. "Pre-crash to post-crash, pre-regs to post-regs, 403(b) plan sponsors and participants clearly remain committed to this important employee benefit."

The 2010 403(b) Plan Survey—part of an ongoing series of PSCA surveys on 403(b) plans—reports on the 2009 plan-year experience of 552 plan sponsors from across the country. This represents a 43% increase in the number of respondents from the 2008 403(b) Plan Survey.

"The objective of the PSCA 403(b) Plan Survey is to provide much-needed benchmarking data for 403(b) plan sponsors as they develop and maintain their plans. This year's significant increase in respondents shows that the survey is becoming a trusted, credible benchmarking source for the 403(b) market," says Aaron Friedman, national practice leader—non-profit, The Principal®.

The survey also revealed:

  • An increase in the number of plans permitting Roth after-tax contributions (13.9% in 2009, up from 10.9% in 2007)
  • Few participants (1.3%) took hardship withdrawals in 2009 even though 76 percent of plans permit them
  • Fewer small companies made changes as a result of the new rules than large companies (just over 48 percent of plans with 1-49 employees made changes vs. nearly 70% of plans with 200 or more employees)
  • One-third of respondents are unsure if their plan has an investment policy statement

For a summary of the results and to order a copy of the full report, visit www.psca.org.

About PSCA

PSCA, a national non-profit association of 1,200 companies and their 6 million employees, advocates increased retirement security through defined contribution programs to federal policymakers and makes practical assistance with plan design, administration, investment, compliance, and communication available to its members. PSCA conducts unbiased, comprehensive research on defined contribution plan practices and releases trend data and best-practice information to policymakers and plan sponsors. PSCA, established in 1947, is based on the principle that "defined contribution partnership in the workplace fits today's reality." PSCA's services are tailored to meet the needs of both large and small organizations with members ranging in size from Fortune 100 firms to small, entrepreneurial businesses.

About the Principal Financial Group

The Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®)[1] is a leader in offering businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services, including retirement and investment services, life and health insurance, and banking through its diverse family of financial services companies. A member of the Fortune 500, the Principal Financial Group has $293.4 billion in assets under management[2] and serves some 18.7 million customers worldwide from offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Principal Financial Group, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PFG. For more information, visit www.principal.com.

Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company, a member of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.

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[1]
The Principal Financial Group and The Principal are registered service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.
[2]
As of March 31, 2010.
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Call 515.246.4907 or see the full Media Relations contact list.

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