Restoring the Match

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Before the Great Recession, more than 90 percent of employers with 401(k) plans offered company matching contributions. But in 2008 and 2009, some eliminated or cut the match. A 2010 survey by Towers Watson, a global professional services company, found 13 percent had suspended the match and 5 percent reduced it.

With a recovering economy, Towers Watson found 46 percent of plan sponsors had reinstated the match, with 37 percent restoring it completely. Another 49 percent were considering restoration within the next year.

"Employers are cautious in bringing back the match. They're not sure what's around the corner," says Gary Vawter, president and owner of Vawter Financial.

Some employers simply can't afford it. Others eye participation. "Very few employees have stopped participating in the 401(k) because of it, so some see little benefit to the company to give the match back," says Michael Eischen, president of Eischen Financial Group.

"It's industry specific," says Trent Baker, assistant vice president of the Edwards Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. "In Ohio, the construction, building and auto industries haven't picked up. Other industries have, and they're the ones restoring it."

Reprinted from the July 2011 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.