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Reference Point Annual Benchmarking Report

Reference Point 2022 provides data and actionable insights into plan and participant activity throughout the year.

This valuable benchmarking tool analyzes key trends and shares expert commentary you can use to inform your plan strategy decisions.

Report Highlights

Two years in from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we examine how plans and participants have fared. Despite the challenges, the data highlight encouraging signs observed over the past year. 

Plan sponsors and participants took positive steps that show they realize the value of retirement savings programs:

  • The percentage of plans offering a match returned to pre-pandemic rates or higher.
  • Average employee deferral rates have climbed steadily to an all-time high of 8.5% in 2021.
  • After two years at 50%, the percentage of auto-enrollment plans defaulting to 5% deferral rates or more increased to 52%.
  • The percentage of participants with outstanding loans decreased from 20% in 2020 to 18.8% in 2021.
  • Plan participation increased from 67% in 2020 to 68% in 2021.

Combining auto-solutions can help achieve better results:

  • Plans using auto-enrollment and auto-increase in tandem achieve an 85% participation rate compared with only 29% for those that do not offer the services.
  • Participants in plans with both auto-enrollment and auto-increase are saving 5% more than those in plans that did not adopt the solutions.

Auto-increase using the opt-out approach proves more effective than opt-in approach. In 2021, participation in auto-increase was 65% in plans that used the opt-out approach compared with only 11% for plans using the opt-in approach.

The data from 2021 show us that sponsors and participants continue to understand the value of retirement savings programs. There is still a need for financial wellness programs to help participants manage challenges without losing sight of their long-term goals. Continued adoption of plan design best practices can help drive increased participation and savings rates.

About the Report

Unless otherwise noted, all data included in this report are drawn from the following sources: Data are based on the large-market, full-service universe—T. Rowe Price total—of T. Rowe Price Retirement Plan Services, Inc., retirement plans (401(k) and 457 plans) consisting of 660 plans and over 2 million participants.

For more information on this report or where you can get additional industry-specific data to support your plan design discussions, please contact your T. Rowe Price representative.

This material is provided for general and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, or investment advice. This material does not provide recommendations concerning investments, investment strategies, or account types; it is not intended to suggest that any particular investment action is appropriate for you. Please consider your own circumstances before making an investment decision.

© Copyright 2022, T. Rowe Price Investment Services, Inc., Distributor. All rights reserved.