SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Feb. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- MassMutual's Retirement Services Division has released data for the fourth quarter 2010 indicating that female participants in retirement plans administered by MassMutual have been shifting an increasing percentage of their retirement savings into asset allocation investments in general (target-date or risked-based options), but are favoring target-date options.
At year-end 2010, women had 24.3% of their retirement assets in asset allocation options vs. men with 24.0%. Significantly, the data shows that among female investors, average balances in target-date investments are approximately double those of risk-based options. Among men, the split is roughly even between target-date and risk-based options. Two possible explanations are that women have recognized the need for better diversification and that, historically, men have demonstrated more aggressive investment behavior than women. MassMutual's data supports the conventional wisdom that men prefer risk-based investment selections and exhibit a preference for having more control over their investments. In a recent survey(1) of participants in retirement plans administered by MassMutual, 53.1% of female participants prefer to spend as little time as possible on making investment decisions compared to 35.1% for men. Likewise, 25.9% of women are confident in making their own investment decisions compared to 44.1% for men.
Also of note, balances for women continue to trail men by approximately 40% and their deferral percentages continue to trail those of men by 0.5 percentage points. On a positive note, balances for women gained 5.7% on average for the quarter, compared to 5.5% for men, which also may be explained by their different approaches to investing.
The percentage of participants who stopped or decreased their deferrals during the quarter (3.8%) was at its lowest level since the beginning of the market decline. The number of participant loans, hardship withdrawals, and call center activities declined slightly as well.
"MassMutual has invested significant resources in participant education and, in fact, participant visits to self-service education modules increased by 6% during the fourth quarter vs. the third quarter 2010, and are up 21% for the year," says Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual's Retirement Services Division and chairman and CEO of MassMutual International LLC. "These statistics support the fact that participants are taking more interest in managing their retirement accounts and are taking advantage of the education and saving tools available to them online. Clearly, MassMutual's participant education is valued and appreciated by our retirement plan participants. The decreased participant activities and increased educational usage are also indicative of overall improved confidence in the economy and individual employment outlook," adds Sarsynski.
The average participant balance in retirement plans administered by MassMutual now exceeds the average balance from year-end 2007 when the market decline began. MassMutual's data also shows the highest percentage growth in average account balances for the year was experienced by participants in their 40s (10.4%) and 50s (9.8%). Among all participants, retirement assets invested in stable value (24.9%) as a percentage of total assets are now at their lowest level since the start of the recession, demonstrating increased participant confidence in equity markets and increased popularity of asset allocation investment options.
MassMutual serves approximately 1.2 million participants.(2) For more information regarding MassMutual Retirement Services, please call your retirement plan advisor or contact MassMutual at 1-866-444-2601.
(1) MassMutual Retirement Plan Participant Survey of 1,517 participants conducted between November 15, 2010 and January 15, 2011.
(2) Includes First Mercantile
MassMutual's Retirement Services Division has been serving retirement plans for more than 60 years. It offers a full range of products and services for corporate, union, nonprofit and governmental employers' defined benefit, defined contribution and nonqualified deferred compensation plans. It serves approximately 1.2 million participants.
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyholders. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyholders every year since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company's strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.
MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) [of which Retirement Services is a division] and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, LLC., member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.
For more information, visit massmutual.com.
Copyright ©2011 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and affiliates, Springfield, MA 01111-0001.
All rights reserved.
SOURCE MassMutual's Retirement Services