Breached! Study finds workers raiding retirement accounts

Cash-outs, loans take heavy toll on nation’s 401(k)s
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20 Under 40: JenniferDessoye

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Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA). Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurolo (read more)

20 Under 40: Amy Hlavaty Belcher

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Amy Hlavaty Belcher, 39, owner and artistic director of Abrabesque Academy of Dancing, believes that for those who have been given much, much is expected. “I just try hard to do my best,” she said. I have been blessed with many opportunities and many gift (read more)

20 Under 40: Christopher Hetro

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Chris Hetro, 33, works hard and plays hard. “A strong work ethic is important, but finding balance outside of work is important because life is too short and you need to enjoy it,” he explained. As an electrical engineer and project manager at Borton-Laws (read more)

20 Under 40: C. David Pedri

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For attorney C. David Pedri, 37, it’s all about a combination of qualities that contribute to success. “My philosophy is simple: be open and honest, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect, and work hard to attain your dreams. The (read more)

20 Under 40: Ed Frable

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Ed Frable, 28, believes “if I work hard and stick to my word, good things will happen. My crew will not be deterred. We will re-evaluate our game plan and not give up until the job is complete,” explained Frable, the owner/operator of Ed Frable Constructi (read more)

20 Under 40: William H. Bender II

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William H. Bender II, CFP, CIMA, CRPC, loves what he does. “I’m lucky. I come to work every day excited to help the people and institutions we work with,” explained Bender, 34, first vice president at Bender Wealth Management Group, Merrill Lynch. The fam (read more)

20 Under 40: Angelo Venditti

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Angelo Venditti, 38, heard a call to the helping professions early on. Geisinger Northeast’s chief nursing officer answer was to volunteer for his local fire company. After high school, he became a paramedic, then enrolled in nursing school. Three years a (read more)

20 Under 40: Donald Mammano

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At 20, Donald Mammano began his own company, while attending the University of Scranton. Mammano, now 33, and president of DFM Properties, recalls, as a youngster, holding a flashlight while his father fixed the kitchen sink. “From that point on I was fas (read more)

20 Under 40: William J. Fennie III

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William J. Fennie III, 27, is always knocking on the proverbial door, because he knows one day, one will open. As an investment specialist with Integrated Capital Management (iCM) he cannot take “no” for an answer. “I make cold calls every day to invite f (read more)

20 Under 40: Marcus Magyar

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As an advisor at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Marcus N. Magyar, CFP, 30, provides comprehensive wealth management and investment portfolio services to business owners, executives, families and high-net worth individuals. His multi-disciplinary team of pro (read more)

20 Under 40: Heather Davis

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Heather M. Davis, 33, director of marketing and communication, is responsible for creating, overseeing and implementing a strategic marketing and comprehensive communications plan for The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). She is also responsible for pr (read more)

20 Under 40: Alexandria Duffney

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Alexandria Duffney, 30, is competitive by nature and loves a good challenge. These qualities have led her to her position as associate director of graduate admission at Wilkes University. Here she works with prospective students interested in enrolling in (read more)

20 Under 40: John Culkin

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John Culkin’s tenets inform: “Less haste equal more speed; the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg, it is all about what you are made of, not the circumstances surrounding you; and don’t ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, bef (read more)

20 Under 40: Conor O'Brien

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“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it,” mused Conor O’Brien.” As co-founder and executive director of the Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, 25, is responsible for leading the development of the overal (read more)

20 Under 40: Jessica Siegfried

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Jessica Siegfried, 38, is senior designer with BlackOut Design Inc., where she is responsible for all creative design at the full-service agency, from traditional branding and print to collateral and front end web design. “I’ve always had an interest in t (read more)

20 Under 40: David Johns

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David Johns’ career path has been shaped by his diverse experiences. As director of structural engineering at Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Moosic, Johns, 39, ensures that his engineering and consultant teams provide clients with their best effort. “We complete (read more)

20 Under 40: Robyn Jones

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Robyn Jones, 38, president of ReferLocal LLC, has learned just as many lessons from her business successes as she’s had from her failures — and she believes it’s important to share that knowledge with her employees. After graduating from American Universi (read more)

20 Under 40: Nisha Arora

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Nisha Arora, 36, tries to be the best version of herself every day. As general counsel for ERA One Source Realty Inc., she realized she cannot control other’s behavior so “I try to focus on myself and how I can be better,” she explained. Arora’s responsib (read more)

20 Under 40: Justin Sandy

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Starting at a young age in Hazleton, Justin C. Sandy, 33, found a passion for running. He became a member then a coach for Misericordia University’s cross country and track and field programs. “It was at Misericordia that I also garnered the profound sati (read more)

20 Under 40: Dr. Ariane Conaboy

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As a doctor of internal medicine at Physicians Health Alliance, Dr. Ariane M. Conaboy, 34, realizes the importance of human life and how fragile it can be at times. Conaboy graduated from Scranton Prep and the University of Scranton with a double major in (read more)

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Photo: Source: Hello Wallet, License: N/A

Across the entire U.S. household population who has used a defined contribution plan for retirement, nearly 20 percent have at some point taken a full distribution of one or more of their DC balances.

New research released Jan. 16 by HelloWallet finds that more than 25 percent of U.S. workers participating in a 401(k) plan will access their 401(k) savings before they reach retirement, now withdrawing $70 billion annually.
The study, which analyzed consumer finance data from the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Census Bureau, raises significant questions about the future of the bedrock retirement program as more workers move from traditional pension benefits towards tax-incented defined contribution programs.
The survey results also hold significant implications for employers, who collectively invest $118 billion annually in 401(k) programs for their workers’ retirement.
The research finds that one out of four participants in 401(k) retirement programs will either cash-out their savings before retirement — incurring substantial penalties and taxes — or forfeit them to loans.
Among the other findings:
* More than 25 percent of households that use a 401(k) or similar defined contribution plan have used all or some of their savings for non-retirement needs, amounting to more than $70 billion in annual withdrawals.; 
* 75 percent report that they breached their savings because of basic money management problems; 
* Workers now withdraw or breach over $70 billion annually out of their 401(k)s for non-retirement needs;
* Penalized withdrawals increased from $36 billion to about $60 billion between 2004 and 2010; *
Workers in their 40s are most likely to breach their savings for non-retirement needs.
“This research shows that employers are not getting the return on investment that they may think they are from their retirement investments,” said HelloWallet founder and CEO Matt Fellowes, a former Brookings Scholar who led the study. “Investing in retirement savings is essential for all Americans, but this study demonstrates that a large share of U.S. workers lack the basic financial skills needed to actually benefit from those savings, and it’s costing both them and their employer dearly.”
“While there is no question about the need for retirement savings, the issue raised by our research is whether employees are given the financial tools, including unbiased guidance, to make the best decisions every step of the way,” said Fellowes. “These data strongly indicate that, for many workers, investment advice is misaligned with their investment needs and, as importantly, with their basic day-to-day financial needs.”
The research also finds that only a small percentage of employees (8 percent) are withdrawing funds because they have lost their jobs. Instead, 75 percent of those who have made early withdrawals have done so because they lack basic money management skills and need to meet basic money management challenges, such as emergencies, credit-card payments, and health care.
In many cases, better planning and guidance would put them on a track to avoid costly mistakes, take advantage of the tax incentives, and accumulate the savings needed for retirement.
For employers, the implications of the research are substantial. American companies now spend $118 billion annually on retirement contributions with the expectation that employees will take maximum advantage of these programs to improve their financial well-being. The new research suggests that employers’ massive investment is not always delivering the intended results.
To aid employers in evaluating the effectiveness of their retirement and other Rewards programs, HelloWallet is providing an online diagnostic. Called the “Financial Wellness Diagnostic,” this free tool provides employers with insight into the needs of their workforce.