Almost seven in 10 U.S. households that own traditional IRAs have developed strategies for managing income and assets in retirement, according to a study released last week by the Investment Company Institute.

More than two-thirds reported taking several actions to develop their strategies, including reviewing their insurance policies, determining their retirement expenses, and assessing when to take social security.

Sarah Holden, ICI’s senior director of retirement and investor research, said traditional IRA-owning households are thoughtfully considering how best to manage their IRA nest eggs and need access to as much information as possible to make good decisions. For example, during IRA rollovers from employee-sponsored retirement plans, IRA holders need to understand the options they have, she said.

The study found that more than half of traditional IRA-owning households had IRAs that were rollovers from employee-sponsored retirement plans. More than eight in 10 households (83%) said that their most recent rollovers involved the transfer of their entire retirement account balances. 

The study draws upon information from two separate household surveys conducted in May 2011. One was based on a sample of 2,300 randomly selected, representative U.S. households owning traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, or employee-sponsored IRAs. The other was based on a sample of 4,216 randomly selected U.S. households, of which 1,636 owned IRAs.

The study found that nearly four out of 10 U.S. households owned IRAs in May 2011, unchanged from the previous year.  IRA contribution activity also remained steady.  Fourteen percent of U.S. households contributed to an IRA in 2010, compared with 15% in 2009.

Withdrawal activity among traditional IRA-owning households, however, jumped from 15% in 2009 to 22% in 2010. Most withdrawals (77 %) were made by retirees. 


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