The Race to Longevity

Americans Not Ready for Retirement

Principal PlanWorks designed to get retirement plan participants on track

December 4, 2013 (Des Moines, Iowa) — With nearly half of American workers sitting on less than $10,000 in retirement savings and 70 percent of workers saying they are behind in planning and saving[1], individuals simply aren’t financially ready for retirement.

A new approach to workplace retirement plans, Principal® PlanWorks from the Principal Financial Group®, uses key design features to help put participants on a path towards a more successful retirement. Success is determined by participants’ retirement readiness, a new way of thinking about retirement planning that focuses on retirement income versus retirement savings. The right retirement plan design can encourage individuals to save at higher levels to achieve a higher level of retirement income or readiness.

“Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement — plain and simple. Often it’s due to inertia. That’s why we’ve designed retirement plans that harness the power of human nature instead of working against it,” said Jerry Patterson, senior vice president of retirement income strategy at The Principal®. “By implementing several automatic plan design changes, employers can elevate their retirement plan and make a significant impact on their employees’ participation and savings rates.”

To elevate the success of any retirement plan, The Principal suggests employers strive to get their workforce participation up to 90 percent with a 10 percent average deferral rate — plus employer match. In order to reach these numbers, Principal PlanWorks includes several key automatic plan design features:

  • Automatic enrollment with at least 6 percent elective deferral.
  • Automatic escalation of at least 1 percent per year up to 10 percent.
  • Sweep all existing employees into the plan at least one time at the default deferral rate.
  • Stretch the match by using a formula that incents employees to defer at higher levels in order to get the full employer match.
  • Use asset allocation choice as the qualified default investment alternative (QDIA).
Americans aren't saving enough for retirement — plain and simple. Often it's due to inertia. That's why we've designed retirement plans that harness the power of human nature instead of working against it

Automatic enrollment can propel participation as high as 91 percent. Only 6 percent of participants proactively choose to automatically increase their deferral percentage each year, yet 88 percent of participants use this feature if they are required to opt out of it.

“The conversation is shifting from one of retirement savings to retirement income, but we must move faster if we want to get individuals on track towards meaningful retirement savings,” notes Patterson. “We must start and end the retirement savings war with successful plan design, tools and education to achieve retirement readiness.”

Patterson addresses the challenge of helping employers understand the value of making plan design changes in his latest post on The Principal Blog.

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About the Principal Financial Group
The Principal Financial Group® (The Principal ®)[2] is a global investment management leader offering retirement services, insurance solutions and asset management. The Principal offers businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services, including retirement, asset management and insurance through its diverse family of financial services companies. Founded in 1879 and a member of the FORTUNE 500®, the Principal Financial Group has $466.2 billion in assets under management[3] and serves some 19.0 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

EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey 2013, 2012
“The Principal Financial Group” and “The Principal” are registered service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.
As of September 30, 2013.