Which Industries Have the Best 401ks?

Here are the best industries when it comes to 401ks

A BrightScope report published in late August 2014 examined 401k plans to find out which industries had the best 401ks. The answer? Lawyers, oil/gas workers and pilots are in the best retirement positions?as are tech firm workers and utility employees. The study looked at about 3,500 companies in 2012 that held at least $100 million in assets.

Five Companies That Provide Excellent 401ks

  1. Saudi Arabian Oil Company: $490,000
  2. Southwest Airlines (just the pilots): $350,000
  3. Seyfarth Shaw LLP (just the law partners): $240,000
  4. Spectra Energy: $230,000
  5. Google: $86,000

Factors That Make Up the Best Plans

  • The best plans had many commonalities.
  • Low fees
  • Investment choices galore
  • Substantial employer contributions (whether via matching or profit sharing)
  • Employee salaries high enough that the above makes a significant difference

For instance, more than a million Wal-Mart employees, some part-timers included, take part in the company?s 401k plan, with Wal-Mart matching 100 percent up to 6 percent of salaries. That?s nothing to sniff at, but the average plan balance is only $18,000, compared with Saudi Arabian Oil Company?s $490,000. Higher salaries make a huge difference.

Which Industries Have The Worst 401k Plans?

The BrightScope report indicates that retail and hospitality have low plan balances. Salary isn?t the only reason Wal-Mart balances are low; high turnover makes saving more difficult, and many workers need money right away. They can’t afford to participate in the plans.

The average yearly employer contribution for a lawyer tops $10,000, while it is about $1,400 for a hospitality worker.