If you participate in a company sponsored retirement plan, it's always a worthwhile practice to review your account at least once a year. Consider these four simple tips to stay on track.
1. Review your account statements
Whether on a monthly or quarterly basis, it’s important to review your statements to ensure that your contributions are deposited in a timely manner and allocated to the investment options you elected. In most cases, retirement account statements are made available online, but you can request a paper copy instead.
2. Review your beneficiaries and updated if necessary
Naming a beneficiary (or beneficiaries) on your retirement account shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought. Is an ex-spouse your named beneficiary? Should a new family member be added? Review your beneficiary form and make sure the person (or people) you want to receive your assets when you pass away is who you intended. Consult an attorney or tax professional if you’re unsure whom to designate as your beneficiary.
3. Reassess your investments
It makes sense to periodically review your account portfolio to be sure that your asset allocation (the strategy of dividing your investments among different asset classes, such as stocks and bonds) is still in line with your retirement saving goals and risk tolerance.
Over time, your asset allocation can get out of alignment. When this happens, you can have your account rebalanced, restoring your investments to their original allocation.
Alternatively, most retirement plans offer target-date funds—professionally managed mutual funds that automatically allocate the appropriate mix of stocks, bonds, and fixed income products according to when an investor expects to retire. Another benefit of target-date funds is that they automatically rebalance on a periodic basis.
It's important to keep in mind that investments in target-date funds are subject to the risks of their underlying holdings. The year in the fund name refers to the approximate year (the target date) when an investor in the fund would retire and leave the workforce. The fund will gradually shift its emphasis from more aggressive investments to more conservative investments based on its respective target date. The performance of an investment in a target-date fund is not guaranteed at any time, including on or after the target date.
4. Consider increasing your contributions
While your asset allocation plays a significant role in determining how large your portfolio may grow over time, the amount you contribute has a far more dramatic impact. The more you can contribute each paycheck, the more “fuel” you’ll be adding to your investment engine, especially if your plan offers company matching contributions.
Even increasing your contribution rate a little—from 4% to 6% for example—can make a huge difference in how much your retirement nest egg could grow over time. And if you contribute on a pre-tax basis, this higher rate can reduce your taxable income.
If you need help reviewing any aspect of your retirement plan account, consider consulting with a financial advisor or speaking with your company’s retirement plan advisor.
Eric Kristenson is a financial advisor and retirement plan advisor located at Canby Financial Advisors, 161 Worcester Road, Framingham, MA 01701. He offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. He can be reached at 508.598.1082 or email@example.com
This article was authored by the Retirement Consulting Services team at Commonwealth Financial Network and Canby Financial Advisors.
©2022 Commonwealth Financial Network and Canby Financial Advisors.