An Examination of the Variables that Drive Retirement Savings
The money saved by an employee in an employer sponsored retirement plan will most likely be the largest single retirement saving of an individual. This coupled with the fact that this retirement plan choice typically has to be made prior to starting employment and that it is an irrevocable decision makes it even more critical for an employee to be well versed with the different characteristics of each plan and pick one that is best suited for each individual employee’s circumstances. There is, however, widespread lack of financial education among employees about the different retirement plans offered by their employers. A recent survey conducted by The American College of Financial Services indicates that four in five Americans don’t understand the basics of retirement plans or retirement planning. Eight-one percent of Americans that took a financial literacy quiz failed it (Moore, 2020). A lack of financial literacy may be a deterrent for employees to participate in a plan or make the appropriate choices (Godbout, 2020). This lack of education may have prompted employees to pick a defined benefit retirement plan where the benefits paid in retirement are a function of the salary earned by the employee and the number of years of service and not the investment choices made or the returns generated by the investments.
More recently, however, there has been a steady decline in the use of defined benefit plans and a corresponding increase in the use of defined contribution plans which places the burden of making appropriate investment choices on the employee. In addition, many employers also offer their employees the opportunity to invest in supplemental retirement plans.
While it has been shown that an increase in financial awareness enables employees to make better investment choices there has been no research so far, to our knowledge, that has examined the impact of several variables, such as age, gender, marital status, number of dependents, education level, academic rank, academic discipline, salary earned, and years to retirement, on the investment choices made by employees.
This research will examine the impact of these variables on the investment choices made by employees at a regional comprehensive institution.
Keywords - Retirement Plans, Pension, Supplemental Retirement, 401k