News release

Vanguard Reports Record 401(k) Participation

Plan sponsors building on the power of automatic features with personalized advice offers

VALLEY FORGE, PA (June 15, 2023)—Participation rates in 401(k) plans recordkept by Vanguard have reached an all-time high, driven by the continued power of design features like automatic enrollment and automatic annual increases. The firm’s annual release of How America Saves—an industry-leading compendium of the retirement savings behaviors of nearly five million American workers—also reports that employers are increasingly bolstering 401(k) plans with services designed to meet the broader financial needs of their employees, including advice.

“It is encouraging to see a record number of U.S. plan participants saving to secure their financial futures,” said Tim Buckley, Vanguard Chairman and CEO. “Automatic solutions revolutionized retirement planning over the last decade. However, investment success depends not only on the funds you hold but also the advice you get on those funds. The next frontier of retirement savings will be advanced by personalized advice that helps investors reach their long-term goals.”

In 2022, 41% of all plans offered advice services; amongst larger plans with more than 5,000 employees, 81% offered advice. Altogether, nearly three in four plan participants now have access to advice, such as a robo-advisor or guidance from a CFP. Other notable findings from How America Saves, now in its 22nd edition, include: 

  • Automatic enrollment removes barrier to entry: This year’s report featured a record-high plan participation rate of 83%. Adoption of automatic enrollment, one of the leading catalysts for plan participation, has more than tripled since the passage of the Pension Protection Act in 2006. Today, nearly 58% of plans and 76% of plans with at least 1,000 participants have adopted this design, bypassing the inertia and procrastination often responsible for inhibiting voluntary enrollment.
  • Retirement savers stay the course: Despite significant market uncertainty, nearly a quarter of participants saved at least 10% of their income for retirement and the average deferral rate remained at a historic high of 7.4%. With nearly 98% of participants also offered some type of employer contribution, the total average contribution rate was 11.3%. 
  • Plan features help participants weather market volatility: Participant trading has dramatically declined over the last 15 years, with just 6% of participants trading last year. This is attributable to the increased adoption of target-date funds and retirement savers valuing buy-and-hold strategies. The sophisticated simplicity of professionally managed allocations such as target-date funds is leading the trend, as just 2% of those participants traded during the same timeframe.

“Building on the proven benefits of smart plan design, employers are increasingly exploring more comprehensive efforts to help their employees reach their long-term financial goals,” said John James, managing director and head of Vanguard Institutional Investor Group. “In addition to advice, forward-thinking plan sponsors are offering financial wellness tools such as student debt paydown and supplemental savings accounts like HSAs. In partnership with Vanguard, sponsors are making vital enhancements to not only support talent attraction, but to also put savers on a personalized path to better investment outcomes."

For decades, Vanguard has served as a trusted partner to defined contribution plan sponsors and consultants, offering advice and investment solutions, as well as industry-recognized retirement and investment thought leadership. Vanguard Institutional Investor Group marries deep retirement capabilities with technology-driven, client-centric innovation to deliver a comprehensive, world-class recordkeeping experience and help plan sponsors make data-enabled plan design decisions to help give millions of retirement savers the best chance for investment success.


About Vanguard

Founded in 1975, Vanguard is one of the world's leading investment management companies. The firm offers investments, advice, and retirement services to individual investors, institutions, and financial professionals. Vanguard operates under a unique, investor-owned structure where Vanguard fund shareholders own the funds, which in turn own Vanguard. As such, Vanguard adheres to a simple purpose: To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success. For more information, visit

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

For more information about Vanguard funds, visit or call 800-523-7064 to obtain a prospectus or, if available, a summary prospectus. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information about a fund are contained in the prospectus; read and consider it carefully before investing. Investments in target-date funds are subject to the risks of their underlying funds. The year in the fund name refers to the approximate year (the target date) when an investor in the fund would retire and leave the work force. The fund will gradually shift its emphasis from more aggressive investments to more conservative ones based on its target date. An investment in target date funds is not guaranteed at any time, including on or after the target date.

Advice services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc., a registered investment advisor, or by Vanguard National Trust Company, a federally chartered, limited-purpose trust company.

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