Investing & Retirement 101: Managing your company’s 401k

On October 11th, OneGroup conducted our latest 101 Series Webinar, featuring insights from OneGroup Retirement Advisors’ experts Joe Hatfield, AIF, CPFA, Vice President & Financial Consultant, and Mike Tisdell, AIF, CFPA, Vice President & Financial Consultant. They discussed emerging trends in retirement plans in the post-pandemic era, as well as the perspectives and desires of plan sponsors and participants.

The definition of a plan sponsor describes the term as, “a designated party – usually a company or employer that sets up a healthcare or retirement plan, such as a 401(k), for the benefit of the organization’s employees.”

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when unemployment was at nearly 14%, enhancing retirement plans was not a top priority for many plan sponsors. However, with the unemployment rate now reduced to 3.8% and considering trends like “The Great Resignation” and “Silent Quitting,” more plan sponsors are seeking ways to not only attract but also retain employees. They are becoming more educated about evolving trends and are exploring new opportunities within retirement plans.

The primary objective of employer financial wellness programs is to improve the financial well-being and overall financial health of their employees. These programs aim to help employees effectively manage their finances, reduce financial stress, and make informed decisions about their money. The key goals of employer financial wellness programs include:

  • Reducing financial stress
  • Improving employee retention and recruitment
  • Enhancing employee productivity
  • Preparing for retirement
  • Promoting financial literacy
  • Supporting employee well-being
  • Customizing employer benefits

How can you make your current retirement plan more attractive?

Keep it Simple. Retirement and investment topics may appear basic to plan sponsors, but they can be complex and stressful for employees. Simplicity and flexibility in terms of plan contributions and management can greatly benefit your employees.

Become a “one-stop shop”. Plans offering comprehensive financial wellness features tend to have higher participation. Consider adding features like easy plan setup and management, student debt repayment options, educational resources for plan management, in-plan emergency savings programs, and a user-friendly retirement savings access experience for retirees.

Go above and beyond. A great retirement plan only goes so far if your employees don’t know how to manage it. Offer workshops and consultations on retirement account management, budgeting, financial wellness, debt management, investing, and saving. Additionally, consider setting up an in-plan emergency savings program through payroll deductions to provide peace of mind to your employees.

Know what plan features to look for. Features like automatic enrollment, payroll deductions, prudent deferral rates, and automatic escalation can enhance the attractiveness of your plan.

How can you determine the best options for your employees?

There is no “one size fits all” solution. Many plans have the same core elements, but two plans are rarely identical. Building a plan will ultimately depend on your population, demographic, and your workforce.

Different generations have varying needs. Gen X and Baby Boomers are concerned about accessing their retirement savings, so plans that facilitate this may appeal to them. Gen Z and Millennials are more focused on budgeting, making plans with emergency savings options attractive to them.

Ask for feedback. Ask your employees what they would like to see in a retirement plan. There is not a guarantee that you will be able to accommodate all employees’ requests, but their feedback can be valuable and make your employees feel heard

Other considerations for plan sponsors.

SECURE Act 2.0. SECURE 2.0 is here, and this law adds over 90 new provisions to help Americans save through employer-sponsored plans.  These provisions include automatic enrollment, required minimum distributions, catch-up contributions, and more.

Target Date Funds. A target date fund, also known as a life-cycle fund, is an option that is dated when plan participants are expected to retire. These funds, dated to an expected retirement date, have gained popularity. However, not all are the same, so conducting due diligence is crucial.

Collective Investment Trusts (CITs). CITs are tax-exempt, pooled investment vehicles maintained by banks or trust companies (trustees), which are available only to ERISA-qualified retirement plans. Though CITs are structured much like mutual funds, they are exempt from many of the regulatory requirements that drive mutual fund fees. This structural cost advantage has resulted in the rapid growth of CIT popularity and adoption among qualified retirement plans.

Plan Loans. Offering plan loans has pros and cons. Keep in mind that offering more than one loan may lead to lower contribution rates.

HSA Accounts. Consider exploring Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to engage employees further. HSAs offer flexibility, tax benefits, and long-term emergency healthcare savings options.

Market Projections. Despite increasing college debt, younger professionals are expected to continue contributing to various aspects of retirement plans. Being a comprehensive financial wellness provider can further increase plan participation.

Overall, staying informed about these trends and being responsive to your employees’ evolving needs can help you create an attractive and effective retirement plan.

Contact us and upcoming 101 Series webinar.

If you have questions regarding this webinar or your company’s retirement plan, please email Mike Tisdell at or submit a form here and mention this webinar to be connected to a OneGroup Retirement Advisor expert.

OneGroup is looking forward to the next webinar in the series and the final session for 2023, Risk Management 101, on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 from 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM EST. Vice President of Risk Management Services, Paul Coderre will discuss risk, risk assessment, and the options for managing business risk. Register for OneGroup’s next webinar here.

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.