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updated: 2/6/2013 11:28 AM

Survey: Employers likely to add Roth features to contribution plans i

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An increasing number of U.S. employers are planning to add Roth features to their defined contribution plans in 2013, according to a new survey by Lincolnshire-based Aon Hewitt, the global human resources solutions business of Aon plc.

The findings come on the heels of new legislation that makes it easier for DC investors to convert balances within their savings plan into Roth accounts.

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Immediately following the passage of the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012 -- the so-called 'fiscal cliff' deal -- Aon Hewitt conducted a pulse survey of more than 300 individuals representing large U.S. employers to determine the prevalence of Roth accounts and employers' likely actions with respect to their plans over the next 12 months.

According to Aon Hewitt's findings, while almost half (49 percent) of respondents currently offer no Roth provisions, 29 percent of those that don't offer Roth are very or somewhat likely to add this feature in the next 12 months. Of those new adopters, more than three-quarters (76 percent) will add both Roth contribution and in-plan conversion features.

"While employers have steadily been adopting Roth features in recent years, the new law, along with a better understanding of Roth by both participants and companies, will encourage more plan sponsors to add these options in the near-term," said Patti Balthazor Bjork, director of Retirement Research at Aon Hewitt.

Aon Hewitt's survey also found that employers that already have a Roth contribution option are likely to allow employees to make in-plan conversions to Roth accounts. Of those respondents that currently allow Roth contributions but do not offer in-plan conversions, more than half (53 percent) are very or somewhat likely to add this feature in the next 12 months.

For companies that already allow Roth contributions and in-plan conversions, more than three-quarters (79 percent) are very or somewhat likely to expand the eligibility for in-plan conversions, allowing them for previously non-distributable amounts.

"The new rules open the door for employers to allow expanded in-plan conversions, but it's not a requirement," explained Bjork. "However, it makes the Roth conversions more attractive for employees, so there will likely be increased interest and incentive for employers to offer them."

Aon Hewitt's retirement practice advises, designs and administers defined contribution benefits for hundreds of mid-sized and large plans.

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