Skip to content

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™: January 2020 observations

A volatile January on Wall Street prompted 401(k) investors to increase trading, according to the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™. January had five days of above-normal1 activity – three more than the combined total of the last four months of 2019.

January observations:

  • On average, 0.021% of 401(k) balances were traded daily
  • 12 of 21 days favored fixed income funds

 

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index statistics for January 2020:

Index statistics January 2020 YTD
Total transfers as percentage of starting balance 0.17% 0.17%
# Fixed days 12 (57%) 12 (57%)
# Equity days 9 (43%) 9 (43%)
# Above-normal days 5 5

 

Inflows and outflows during January:

  • Trading inflows mainly went to bond, target date2 and international equity funds
  • Outflows were primarily from stable value, large U.S. equity and small U.S. equity funds

 

Asset classes with most trading inflows in January 

  Percentage of inflows Index dollar value ($ mil)
Bond funds 77% $289
Target date funds 12% $46
International equity funds 7% $26

 

Asset classes with most trading outflows in January

  Percentage of outflows Index dollar value ($ mil)
Stable value funds 39% $147
Large U.S. equity funds 26% $99
Small U.S. equity funds 15% $55

 

January investment portfolios:

  • After reflecting market movements and trading activity, average asset allocation in equities decreased from 68.1% in December to 67.7% in January
  • New contributions to equities increased from 67.4% in December to 68.0% in January

 

Asset classes with largest percentage of total balance at end of January

  Percentage of balance Index dollar value ($ mil)
Target date funds 29% $65,272
Large U.S. equity funds 26% $57,724
Stable value funds 9% $20,809

 

Asset classes with most contributions in January

  Percentage of contribution Index dollar value ($ mil)
Target date funds 47% $753
Large U.S. equity funds 20% $327
International equity funds 7% $116

 

January market observations:

January was a volatile month for investors. U.S. bonds (represented by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index) generated a positive return of 1.9%. U.S. large cap equities (represented by the S&P 500 Index) were flat, international equities (represented by the MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Index) dropped 2.7% and U.S. small cap equities (represented by the Russell 2000 Index) fell 3.2%.

 

Returns for common indices

  January 2020 YTD
Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index 1.9% 1.9%
S&P 500 Index 0.0% 0.0%
Russell 2000 Index -3.2% -3.2%
MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Index (net) -2.7% -2.7%

Members of the media: please contact Landis Cullen for questions about the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™.  Learn more about the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™ here.


  1. A “normal” level of relative transfer activity is when the net daily movement of participants’ balances as a percent of total 401(k) balances within the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™ equals between 0.3 times and 1.5 times the average daily net activity of the preceding 12 months. A “high” relative transfer activity day is when the net daily movement exceeds two times the average daily net activity. A “moderate” relative transfer activity day is when the net daily movement is between 1.5 and two times the average daily net activity of the preceding 12 months.

  2. Target date funds also include the amounts in target risk funds. The amount in the target risk funds is less than 10% of the total.

Related Insights


Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™: May 2021 observations

401(k) investors bucked the adage to "sell in May and stay away," according to the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index. On average, net daily trading was 0.011% of 401(k) balances—the lowest monthly value in the more than 20-year history of the 401(k) Index.

Customer success story: White Castle 401k communication strategy

Engaging employees in saving for the future, especially when different segments have different needs and motivations, can be a challenge. Here's how White Castle did it.