There's a lot involved in moving to a new company, and normal for some to put some of the more tedious housekeeping items on the back burner. Besides all the job-related changes, you need to understand your new health insurance and set up your new 401(k) to continue your annual contribution.
But what happens to your old 401(k)? It stays where it is for many people, and they end up with multiple 401(k) accounts. There may be some benefits if the old plan offers investments that you prefer to keep or provide diversification from the new plan. However, it can also make record-keeping onerous, and it can become challenging to understand your accurate risk exposure.
A better approach is to understand your options and make the best decision based on your tax status and the rest of your financial plan.
The Options for 401(k) Portability
You generally have four options for the vested assets in your 401(k) plan. Many employers allow you to leave the plan where it is. However, any unvested assets won’t continue on a vesting schedule. Vesting ends with your termination date, so your plan balance will be the amount you've contributed, any employer contributions that have vested, and any growth of the investments.
There are three main options when it comes to portability:
Thinking about your 401(k) investments as part of your comprehensive financial plan can help you create enhanced diversification. Take a careful look at the plan choices offered in each plan. You may decide that you can craft a more diversified strategy by keeping both plans. You could replicate your risk strategy in each or set up a new strategy by selecting different asset classes and funds in each that create a total risk profile you are comfortable with. Or you may prefer the investments offered in the new plan and choose to simplify your strategy by keeping everything in one place.
If you are invested in a target-date fund, you may want to consider the rollover. The two funds may have the same target date, but the risk profile can differ from plan to plan. It's hard to get a sense of what you are holding, so it may be beneficial to roll over the assets and consolidate them into one target-date fund.
An Opportunity for Tax Planning
If you have been out of work for some time and have lower income, it may make sense to do a Roth conversion. Pulling money out of your 401(k) to convert it while you are still working doesn't usually make sense because it can create a costly tax burden, so investors typically wait until early retirement.
There are income limits on employer-sponsored Roth 401 (k) accounts, but you can convert to a Roth IRA without any income limitation. You'll need to pay the taxes you deferred when you contributed to the traditional 401(k) account, plus the growth of the investments will also be taxed. But once you pay the taxes and deposit the funds into the Roth IRA, they grow tax-free, and you will not be subject to required minimum distributions starting at age 72.
This can be a significant advantage for income planning in retirement, as it may help keep you in the lower tax brackets.
The Bottom Line
Thinking through your 401(k) rollover strategy should be part of the financial housekeeping you do when you join a new company. Understanding what you have and your risk profile can provide you with assurance during market volatility. It also ensures you stay organized. There are many options, so investing the time to identify what is right for you makes good sense.
This work is powered by Seven Group under the Terms of Service and may be a derivative of the original. More information can be found here. The information contained herein is intended to be used for educational purposes only and is not exhaustive. Diversification and/or any strategy that may be discussed does not guarantee against investment losses but are intended to help manage risk and return. If applicable, historical discussions and/or opinions are not predictive of future events. The content is presented in good faith and has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable. The content is not intended to be legal, tax or financial advice. Please consult a legal, tax or financial professional for information specific to your individual situation.
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April Recap and May Outlook
COVID concerns took a definitive backseat as mask mandates on flights ended, and the concerns about the economy turned to how bad things will get. The concerns over the disruption of the ongoing war in Ukraine, 40+ year record inflation, and the resulting amping up of the Fed’s intentions on rate increases moved distinctly into the foreground. Let’s look at some headlines:
Chairman Powell Steps Up to the Plate – and the Mic
We’ve come a long way from a Federal Reserve that would speak as obtusely as possible, and exclusively to economists and bond market people.
Powell spoke “directly to the American people” in his remarks. He was clear about his view of where inflation is and what the Fed’s intention is: "Inflation is much too high and we understand the hardship it is causing, and we’re moving expeditiously to bring it back down.”
Powell was also careful to stake out what the Fed sees as under its purview, as opposed to governmental control: "It's really the Fed that has responsibility for price stability."
How Did the Markets React?
The increasingly negative numbers all months speak for themselves. And it wasn’t just equities – bond market prices suffered as yields hit levels they haven’t seen in years. However, there were some bright some spots.
There is some indication that the 8.5% March inflation number may be the peak. Core inflation, which is CPI ex food and energy, fell in March. The Atlanta Fed tracks what they call “sticky-price” inflation. This is a weighted basket of items that change price relatively slowly. It increased 5.8 % annualized in March, following a 6.5 % increase in February.
So even though inflation is up, “sticky” inflation is trending down. Added to a strong labor market and an economy that is still growing, even if slower, the potential for both stagflation and a prolonged recession – or any recession – may be lower than headlines are shouting now.
After the rate increase on May 4th, and Powell’s remarks, the market initially reacted positively as rate increases of 100 basis points over the next two meetings were not as drastic as some feared. As rates continue to climb, and we see how inflation responds, volatility will continue to be with us.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the market overall, especially as measured by earnings, is healthier than many might think. Q1 2022 earnings are up 8.5% year-over-year, although lower than Q4 2021. The market is down from the all-time high seen in January, but it’s still higher than it was prior to the pandemic.
Chart of the Month: Yields Are Sharply Up as the Fed Increases Rates
The S&P 500 traded in a high/low range of 11.38%, compared with the pre-COVID-19 historical monthly average of 6.86%. The index ended the month with its worst one-day return (-3.63%) since June 11, 2020, and is in correction territory. Intra-day volatility is up, trading volume is down, and breadth not only declined, but it also turned negative as only 05 issues gained, compared with March’s 315 gainers.
The 10-year U.S. Treasury ended the month at 2.93%, and the 30-year U.S. Treasury ended at 3.00%, up from last month’s 2.45%. The Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Index was down, returning -3.79. As represented by the Bloomberg Municipal Bond Index, Municipal bonds returned -2.76%. High yield corporate bonds struggled with rising rates, with a return of -3.55% for the Bloomberg U.S. High Yield Index.
The Smart Investor
One point that has been consistently made over the past decade-plus of record stock market returns is that the market has been boosted by artificially low interest rates. Rates had not recovered to normal levels after the Global Financial Crisis, and the pandemic resulted in a second slashing of rates and an enormous increase in the Fed’s balance sheet asset, which pushed long-term yields down.
With the 10-year U.S. Treasury at just below 3%, mortgage rates at more than 5%, and the market pricing in a short-term rate of nearly 3% by year-end, normalization is happening fast. What does that mean for investors?
Well, some basics: Higher interest rates mean that profits now are more valuable than more-illusory profits in the future. And all that venture capital money sloshing about? That sound you hear is the collective shriek of start-up workers realizing that firm outings to Coachella maybe weren’t the best way to spend the cash, because there might not be as much of it in future. What is back in style? As old school as it gets: Berkshire Hathaway bought $51 billion of stocks in the first quarter.
As for the other workhorse of long-term investing, S&P Global reports that dividends continue on a slow upward trend, with few decreases and measured increases.
Volatility is likely making itself at home, but strong employment, a growing economy and a more engaged and accountable Fed may mean we stave off or control recession, along with inflation.
This work is powered by Seven Group under the Terms of Service and may be a derivative of the original. More information can be found here.
The information contained herein is intended to be used for educational purposes only and is not exhaustive. Diversification and/or any strategy that may be discussed does not guarantee against investment losses but are intended to help manage risk and return. If applicable, historical discussions and/or opinions are not predictive of future events. The content is presented in good faith and has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable. The content is not intended to be legal, tax or financial advice. Please consult a legal, tax or financial professional for information specific to your individual situation.