Washington needs to step up and fix the nation’s retirement crisis


Sen. Warren’s Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act would also be an obvious win. Individualized retirement accounts, like the 401(k) plan, put the onus on people to be responsible for tracking, managing and consolidating multiple retirement accounts as they move from job to job — resulting in tens of millions of people accidentally abandoning their retirement accounts with previous employers.

Additionally, with more companies auto-enrolling employees into 401(k) plans, many people don’t even realize they have a retirement account — leaving many small accounts lost or neglected. This act would create a national “lost and found” for retirement accounts, allowing employees to track down their former employer-sponsored retirement accounts with the click of a button. The concept is so obvious, it’s a wonder why it’s not already passed.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed its investment-advice rule and will be seeking comments from the public on its 900-page proposal. It’s encouraging to see the SEC moving toward a higher standard than currently required. I am hopeful that the proposal will gain additional momentum and not get further diluted by the large institutions with billions of dollars of revenue at stake.

Of course, the ability to live comfortably in retirement isn’t exclusively the government’s responsibility. People need to take ownership of their savings, and employers can help them do that by offering a 401(k) plan, deferring employees into retirement plans and offering matches to incentivize savings.

But the government can and should make small changes to make the process easier. At the end of the day, our ability to retire comfortably should not hang in the balance because of politicians who are afraid of change.

— By Jon Stein, founder and CEO of Betterment

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