Investors with 401(k) plans have been markedly more aggressive about trading in their accounts in light of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, according to news reports.
When stocks plunged on March 12, with the S&P 500 dropping 9.5%, net trading by 401(k) plan holders was 12 times higher than normal, according to benefits administrator Alight Solutions, Bloomberg writes.
Trading activity of more than 10 times the average had only occurred on four trading days since 1997 up to that point — and three of those incidents took place during the first 11 trading days of March this year, according to the newswire.
Not everyone who has a 401(k) plan is trading more actively, nor are they all pulling out of stocks, however, Bloomberg writes.
Vanguard Group saw around 1% of all its accounts trading during the past two weeks, compared to 0.4% who typically execute trades in the course of two weeks, according to the news service.
Trading activity also rose to 1.6% of all accounts on March 12, Bloomberg writes. Nonetheless, only 0.33% of households with only a 401(k) with Vanguard traded at all that day, a spokeswoman tells the news service.
Many investors also sought advice.
Empower Retirement, which manages retirement plans for 39,000 employers, saw a 45% spike in call volume through midday on March 12, Bloomberg writes. Nonetheless, trading-related calls rose from an average of 1% on a typical day to as much as 3% during the first three days of last week, a spokesman for Empower tells the news service.
Many of those who called and took action wanted to learn about safer investment options, including stable value funds and money market funds, Empower president Edmund Murphy wrote in a note to the employers, according to Bloomberg.
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