We’ve come across another study suggesting that, over time, staying the 401(k) course during a financial crisis pays off. In a piece for fa-mag.com, Ted Knutson, citing a study released jointly by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and the Investment Company Institute, writes that “adults who stuck with their 401(k)s fared a lot better than co-workers who abandoned them following the financial crisis of 2008 and the 34.7 percent asset value drop. His article continues:
“The workers who stayed in their 401(k)s from 2007 through 2012 had an average balance of $49,814 at the end of the period, 67 percent higher than the average of those who did not, the report concludes.
“The increase in account balances factors in employer and worker contributions, investment returns, withdrawals and loans.
“The study also found that older 401(k) participants ran away from equities more than younger workers. The share of 50- and 60-somethings with more than 80 percent of their 401(k)s in equities declined from 32.6 percent in 2007 to 23.5 percent in 2012, while the number of younger stock lovers dropped much less, only from 60.2 percent to 57.8 percent.
“From 2007 to 2012, the share of participants with target-date funds in their 401(k) portfolios rose from 27.6 percent to 32.1 percent.
“The research looked at 7.5 million consistent participants among the 24 million participant accounts in the EBRI/ICI 401(k) database of 64,619 employer plans with $1.536 trillion in assets.”