Friday, December 7, 2012

IBM To Overhaul 401(k) Retirement Program

The Wall Street Journal reports that IBM is overhauling its retirement program to contribute once a year to employee 401(k) accounts in a lump-sum payment. IBM's switch is the latest in a series of moves big companies have been making to lower retirement-plan expenses, and the financial implications for employees could be significant.  According to the article, starting next year, IBM's contributions, which generally range from 6% to 10% of pay, will take place Dec. 31. Workers who leave the company before Dec. 15 won't qualify for the match, unless they retire. The article also note that, for IBM, the latest move could help save millions of dollars a year in compensation expenses, and keep valued workers who want to ensure they receive the match more tethered to their jobs—at least until the end of a given year. The change "reflects our continuing commitment to invest in our employee 401(k) plans while maintaining business competitiveness in a challenging economic environment," IBM spokesman Douglas Shelton said in a statement. Financial planners say the lump-sum contributions undermine one big advantage of 401(k) plans: "dollar-cost averaging," in which investors are buying stock and bonds at multiple prices over time, leveling out risk and return.