Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

Industry-first research draws upon real-world data to explore Defined Contribution plan participants’ holistic lifecycle from saving to spending

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:55 AM CDT|Updated: moments ago

NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — J.P. Morgan Asset Management today released new defined contribution research that reveals 42 percent of participants are leaving balances in their defined contribution (DC) account in the three years following retirement, up significantly from 28 percent in 2018 and double the percentage in 2009 (20 percent).

J.P. Morgan Asset Management Logo (PRNewsfoto/J.P. Morgan Asset Management)
J.P. Morgan Asset Management Logo (PRNewsfoto/J.P. Morgan Asset Management)

At the same time, retirees are spending at higher than expected levels in the early years of retirement, and should plan on needing to replace more than 90 percent of their working income at retirement, a significant increase from the widely accepted 70-80 percent standard. This number gradually decreases once in retirement to 70 percent at age 85.

The first Retirement by the Numbers report combines the firm’s popular Ready! Fire! Aim? research with insights into household spending patterns to provide a uniquely comprehensive view of how individuals are using their DC plans as a savings vehicle and how they are also spending as they move through retirement.

Findings from the report also indicate that most people are still not contributing enough to reach safe funding levels, with average starting contribution rates beginning at 5 percent and never reaching 10 percent before retirement.

“We can see from the first Retirement by the Numbers report that retirees need much more in savings to accommodate higher than expected spending needs in retirement,” said Katherine Roy, Chief Retirement Strategist, J.P. Morgan Asset Management. “In light of these findings, it’s critical that plan sponsors consider incorporating features such as automatic contribution and escalation to increase lagging contribution rates. As more participants keep assets in plans post-retirement, tools to help participants spend down in retirement will prove increasingly valuable to achieving strong retirement outcomes.”

Based on an understanding of the saving and spending patterns of plan participants, J.P. Morgan Asset Management plans to evolve the glide path across its SmartRetirement suite of target date funds, increasing equity allocations while maintaining broad diversification and de-risking in the critical years leading up to retirement.

“In light of our insights into the spending and savings patterns of plan participants, we have adjusted the SmartRetirement glide path to meet a higher accumulation target and enable more participants to reach a minimum level of adequate replacement income,” said Dan Oldroyd, Head of Target Date Strategies, J.P. Morgan Asset Management. “Additionally, with data telling us that more participants are staying in their plan after retiring, we have introduced a dynamic retirement income strategy into the glide path to help set an optimized annual spend down amount that changes each year, starting at the point of retirement.”

The Retirement by the Numbers research draws upon actual saving and withdrawal patterns from approximately 4,500 DC plans with more than 1.4 million participants1. Retiree spending data comes from more than five million de-identified JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase) households.

Findings from the Retirement by the Numbers report have several implications for DC plan and target date fund glide path design:

  1. Getting more participants to save more: Plans can help participants help themselves through the broader use of automatic contribution and escalation programs at much higher starting levels and increase rates than typically used today. Our biennial participant survey published earlier this year revealed that participants largely think they should be saving more than they are, and almost all of those automatically enrolled with their contributions automatically increased, and reported being satisfied with the actions.
  2. Updates to the SmartRetirement glide path: To help address the significantly higher accumulation target for the average participant and our low long-term market expectations, we will increase equity allocations across the glide path2, while maintaining our emphasis on increasing risk/reward efficiency through broad diversification and a relatively rapid reduction in equity exposure in the critical years leading up to retirement.
  3. Including an efficient retirement income option: Our glide path enhancements include a proprietary methodology that can help enhance the potential efficiency for spending down assets through retirement, based on actual spending behaviors, while minimizing longevity risk. The firm’s recent research, drawing on data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), showed that participants are heavily reliant on required minimum distributions (RMDs) for withdrawal guidance. J.P. Morgan Asset Management has developed an interactive experience to help participants decide how much to withdraw each year based on sample withdrawal amounts estimated as a percentage of participants’ account balances that may be safely withdrawn each year, while allowing for redemption in future years.

“We remain committed to diving deeper into the numbers surrounding retirement funding and spending behavior to both help support our clients in their retirement decision making and to inform the design of our retirement solutions,” said Kelly Hahn, Defined Contribution Strategist, J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

About J.P. Morgan Asset Management

J.P. Morgan Asset Management, with assets under management of USD 2.7 trillion (as of 30 September 2021), is a global leader in investment management. J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s clients include institutions, retail investors and high net worth individuals in every major market throughout the world. J.P. Morgan Asset Management offers global investment management in equities, fixed income, real estate, hedge funds, private equity and liquidity. For more information:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading financial services firm based in the United States of America (“U.S.”), with operations worldwide. JPMorgan Chase had $3.8 trillion in assets and $290.0 billion in stockholders’ equity as of September 30, 2021. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing and asset management. Under the J.P. Morgan and Chase brands, the Firm serves millions of customers in the U.S., and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients globally. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at

J.P. Morgan Asset Management is the marketing name for the asset management businesses of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and its affiliates worldwide.

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1 Source: Participant data from MassMutual Financial Group
2 The effective date of the new glide path allocation is on or about March 18th, 2022.

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SOURCE J.P. Morgan Asset Management

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