The vast majority of defined contribution plans, 82 percent, offered a target date fund
(TDF) last year, as the popularity of these plans continues to grow, according to Vanguard.
In addition, almost one-quarter of pension plan participants invest solely in TDFs, six times the number of people who participated five years ago. Among new plan participants, participation rises to 64 percent, Vanguard said.
Among all defined contributions
plans offered at Vanguard, 47 percent of participants had a position in TDFs, with 24 percent of participants invested in a single fund.
“We view this trend as extremely positive because TDFs are providing an increasing number of participants who are neither engaged nor sophisticated investors with balanced, well-diversified portfolios, as well as reducing the risks associated with extreme equity allocations,” said Jean Young, the study’s author and an analyst in Vanguard’s Center for Retirement Research.
A major factor driving the popularity of target date funds is automatic enrollment
, according to Vanguard. At the end of 2011, 29 percent of Vanguard plans had adopted enrollment, up six-fold from 2005, the company said.