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Cerulli: IRA assets total $5.3 trillion in Q1 2012

Photo credit: KROMKRATHOG
Photo credit: KROMKRATHOG

Individual retirement account assets reached an estimated $5.3 trillion in the first quarter of 2012, a nearly 9 percent rise over the $4.8 trillion in estimated assets for 2011, according to a new report.

Cerulli Associates, Boston, released this finding in the November edition of “Evolution of the Retirement Investor 2012: Understanding 401(k) Participant Dynamics and Trends in Rollover and Retirement Income,” a Cerulli Special Quantitative Update. The report includes an analysis of defined contribution plan participants, individual retirement account (IRA) assets and the rollover decision, and the retirement income landscape.

Rollover contributions totaled $307 billion in 2011. Nearly two-thirds of the assets (65.4 percent or $207 billion) were rolled over through an advisor, the average balance of a rollover totaling $115,000. Of the $201 billion, 83 percent ($167 billion) was handled by an existing advisor. The balance ($34 billion or 17 percent) went through a new advisor, the research shows.

The remaining retirement assets were, the report adds, rolled over to a self-directed IRA ($105 billion) or a new employer’s plan ($2 billion.)

More than half of the survey participants (52.2 percent) indicated they rolled over their 401(k) balance “immediately after leaving” an employer-sponsored plan. Smaller percentages of plan participants took action within a year of leaving (24.7 percent), still hold an account with their employer (12.8 percent), waited more than years after leaving before taking action (5.8 percent) or acted within two years of their departure (4.6 percent).

More than 7 in 10 of the plan participants said either they were not sure whether their plan charges an investment fee (37.4 percent) or said there were no fees (35.3 percent). Fewer respondents noted their plan charges investment fees that also pay for administration fees (10.9 percent), investment fees and an additional administration fee (10.5 percent) or an investment fee only (6 percent).

When asked about factors to consider when determining how much to contribute to their 401(k) plan, almost half of those polled (48.6 percent) indicated a matching contribution by their company. More than 4 in 10 (42.3 percent) flagged their personal budget.

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