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America’s Leading 401(k) Providers & Retirement Clearinghouse Collaborate to Implement a Nationwide Network for Auto Portability

Fidelity Investments®, Vanguard, and Alight Solutions announce that they have collaborated with Retirement Clearinghouse, LLC (RCH) to create a consortium of workplace retirement plan recordkeepers, Portability Services Network, LLC, to accelerate the nationwide adoption of auto portability to help America’s under-served and under-saved workers improve their retirement outcomes. With this historic development, American workers who change employers can have their workplace retirement savings automatically move to their new retirement plans. Automating the process of moving 401(k), 401(a), 403(b), and 457 account balances from plan to plan when workers change jobs will help mitigate cash-out leakage and preserve trillions of dollars in savings in the U.S. retirement system, particularly benefiting minorities, women, and low-income workers.

“I am delighted to see the leaders in the retirement services industry come together to accelerate nationwide adoption of Retirement Clearinghouse’s auto portability solution as part of our vision for helping under-served and under-saved Americans achieve financial security,” said Robert L. Johnson, Founder and Chairman of The RLJ Companies and Chairman of Retirement Clearinghouse. “This is truly a historic moment for the industry, as well as our country.”

The need for auto portability has been driven by the lack of seamless plan-to-plan savings portability amid a highly mobile workforce. Approximately $92 billion in savings leaves the U.S. retirement system every year because Americans who switch jobs prematurely cash out their workplace retirement accounts and pay taxes and penalties on those cash-outs, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) Workers with less than $5,000—the focus of the auto portability service—cash out at the time of their job change at much higher rates than all job-changing workers.

Cashing out has traditionally been seen as an easier option than the current manual, often cumbersome and time-consuming process of transferring from plan-to-plan—and cash-out rates for job-changing minorities, low-income workers, and women are also higher than average. Retirement Clearinghouse developed its auto portability solution in conjunction with the private and public sectors to reverse this trend. EBRI estimates that if auto portability was broadly adopted, over the course of a 40-year period an additional $1.5 trillion in savings would be preserved in the U.S. retirement system. Auto portability will help:

  • 67 million Black and minority workers save $619 billion
  • 42 million women workers of all ethnicities save $365 billion

“As a leader in the workplace benefits industry, Fidelity is committed to improving the private retirement system to benefit all American workers,” said Kevin Barry, President of the Workplace Investing Division at Fidelity Investments. “We are excited about the opportunity to work with RCH and other leaders in our industry to focus squarely on ‘connecting and protecting’ workers’ retirement savings, thereby improving retirement outcomes, particularly those for under-served and under-saved workers.”

“We were honored to be the first 401(k) plan recordkeeper to implement auto portability for our clients,” said Alison Borland, Executive Vice President of Wealth Solutions at Alight. “Two years later, industry awareness and the momentum behind this vital solution have grown significantly, and we look forward to working with our fellow industry leaders to reduce our country’s retirement-savings shortfall.”

“As an industry, we have a responsibility to American workers to remove barriers to retirement preparedness and increase their chances for investment success,” said John James, Managing Director and Head of Vanguard Institutional Investor Group. “The formation of this consortium directly complements Vanguard’s ongoing efforts to simplify investing and drive positive participant outcomes.”

The consortium currently represents approximately 43.8 million workers across more than 48,000 employer-sponsored retirement plans, based on data published by Pensions & Investments. Its members have established an independent entity, Portability Services Network, LLC (PSN), which will utilize Retirement Clearinghouse’s auto portability solution to build a nationwide digital hub connecting workplace retirement plan recordkeepers and the plan sponsors they serve. PSN will act as a clearinghouse for automatically locating a participant’s active workplace retirement account in their current employer’s plan and transferring the same participant’s account from their prior employer’s plan into their active account.