The Government Accountability Office is recommending the Department of Labor look to four countries for ideas on how to improve retirement accounts in the U.S.
Here are the four countries a recent GAO report recommended the DOL look into — and what’s required in each:
- Australia. Employers must contribute an amount equal to at least 9% of an employee’s salary to the person’s retirement account. Retirement accounts are set up as trusts, and participants receive a statement that itemizes fund earnings and how much is taken out of the account to pay fees. The statements also contain an example of how much high fees can cut into savings. Plus, they encourage individuals to investigate different investment options.
- Chile. Workers must contribute 10% of their salary, plus money to cover fees. Employees also must pick between six for-profit service providers to administer their accounts, each of which offers five investment options with varying levels of risk. Statements are sent to participants every four months to lay out the fees paid, compare fees across all investment options and provide an estimate of what individuals will have at retirement. New participants are defaulted to the lowest-cost plan provider for two years.
- Sweden. Workers and employers are required to contribute 2.5% of workers’ pay. All accounts are managed by the Swedish Pensions Agency, which contracts with service providers, providing nearly 800 investment options. The agency publishes management fees for each investment option on its website, and workers receive statements about their fees once a year. For comparison purposes, the statements also provide the average fees paid by all retirement account holders.
- United Kingdom. Between 2012 and 2017, all employers will be required to enroll eligible employees into a retirement plan and provide a minimum contribution, according to a breakdown of the GAO report by U.S. News & World Report. If employers don’t have a retirement plan, they can enroll their workers into a national retirement plan. To start, a minimum of 2% of earnings must be contributed, and at least 1% of that must come from the employer. By 2018, that minimum will increase to 8%, with employers having to contribute at least 3%, up to a limit of 4,400 pounds (about $6,838). The national plan will charge a 0.3% annual management fee and a 1.8% fee on contributions.