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EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Small Businesses May Lag in Retirement Benefits

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Dec. 16, 2004--Large companies outperform small businesses when it comes to providing employees with access to retirement plans, according to a report released this week.

The survey, commissioned by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and conducted by market research firm Harris Interactive, compared retirement savings and attitudes of workers and employers from larger firms to those of smaller firms. It found that 79% of workers at larger firms participate in company-sponsored 401(k) plans, versus 72% of small business employees, and that the workers at larger firms tend to contribute at slightly higher levels than their small-business counterparts. The report also claimed that employees at larger firms spend more time monitoring their accounts, and that benefits managers at larger firms spend more time reviewing investment options.

"The 50% of Americans employed by small businesses continue to be at a disadvantage when it comes to retirement savings," claimed Catherine Collinson, a retirement and market trends expert for the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in the report. "Plans at larger firms tend to be more firmly established, and with a larger infrastructure, these companies have shown greater success encouraging participation and engagement. That's why it is so important for the retirement industry to continue working to make plans affordable and accessible, regardless of company size."

The study cited what it called a disconnect between how workers and employers view company retirement plans, with workers significantly less likely to feel that their company manages their retirement plan program with employees' best interest in mind or provides adequate, accurate information about their retirement plan.

The report was based on a telephone survey conducted earlier this year of over 600 employers and 1,200 employees, split between businesses with fewer than 500 employees and businesses with 500 or more.





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