Press Release

Smallest Companies Have Highest-Performing 401(k) Plans, ALM Intelligence Study Finds

Second Annual 401(k) Benchmark Report Offers Plan Providers & Sponsors with Insights to Improve Participants’ Retirement Outcomes

New York, NY—March 20, 2017—ALM Intelligence has published the results of the second annual 401(k) Plan Benchmark Report from its benefits unit, Judy Diamond Associates. This in-depth analysis from Judy Diamond Associates examined active 401(k) plans with at least one current participant and more than $3,000 in plan assets during 2015, the most recent fiscal year for which data is available. The approximately 500,000 plans evaluated for the benchmark report cover about 53 million eligible workers and an estimated $4.1 trillion in total assets across 26 industries.

The complete 401(k) Plan Benchmark Report is available at:

“The primary goal of this report is to present unbiased, data-supported insights into the 401(k) plans offered by employers in a wide variety of industries,” said Eric Ryles, Vice President of Customer Solutions at ALM Intelligence and Managing Director of Judy Diamond Associates. “Our findings can help plan sponsors determine whether or not they are taking the right steps to deliver positive retirement outcomes for their employees, empowering them to identify and correct deficiencies in their plans as well as attract and retain top talent.”

The study’s conclusions include:

  • There continues to be a significant disparity between the quality of 401(k) plans in “white-collar” and “blue-collar” industries. After ranking industries using a variety of criteria, Certified Public Accountants, as an industry, had the highest median plan score, while the Legal and Insurance industries had the second- and third-highest scores, respectively. The Educational Services industry was ranked last, followed by Accommodation and Food Services.
  • Median participation rates among 401(k) plans in a broad spectrum of industries are fairly good. None of the 26 examined industries has a median participation rate of less than 86 percent, indicating that the majority of employers understand the necessity of encouraging employee participation in their 401(k) plans.
  • In 2015, as in 2014, the average 401(k) plan rate of return did not vary significantly based on employer size or industry. This finding is encouraging because it suggests that most employers offer good-quality investment options.
  • 401(k) plans in the Financial Advice/Investment Activities industry have the second-lowest median rate of return.
  • Plans offered by Consultants have the lowest median employee longevity among the 26 surveyed industries. This suggests that many consultants are moving between firms, or starting their own companies and then returning to larger firms after a few years.

“Like all of ALM Intelligence’s resources, this 401(k) benchmark study helps companies in many industries across the country understand how they stand in relation to their industry peers,” said Andrew Neblett, President of ALM Intelligence. “This insight is crucial for helping businesses meet their long-term goals and effectively compete for top-caliber employees.”

Learn more about why Judy Diamond Associates is the Leading Provider of Lead Generation & Recruitment Tools at

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