Reed Smith, Bayer 401(k) plans lauded

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Reed Smith and Bayer Corp. are once again being lauded by an independent rating company for having the best 401(k) retirement plans among large company plans based in the Pittsburgh region.

BrightScope, a financial information company in San Diego, examined 53 plans in the Pittsburgh region with assets over $100 million.

Other local companies with highly rated plans landing in the top 10 included Lanxess, H.J. Heinz, K&L Gates -- which showed up twice for its Alpha and Beta plans -- Allegheny Technologies, Ariba, Mylan and Consol Energy.

Reed Smith and Bayer also placed in the No. 1 or No. 2 spots for local companies in each of the two previous reports in 2012 and 2010.

BrightScope analyzes more than 200 features of 401(k) plans, including company matching contributions, fees, vesting schedules and quality of investment options. It then calculates how fast each plan will generate the amount of money the average 401(k) investor needs to retire.

Companies whose plans (which can include profit sharing or employee stock ownership plans) provide enough cash for workers to retire the soonest get higher scores. Each company's score is then compared with the top-rated plan among its peers in the same industry.

Highly ranked companies stand out "because they demonstrate that they value employees by providing the building blocks for a successful retirement," BrightScope co-founder Dan Weeks said.

Reed Smith and Bayer each received a score of 87 out of 100 in the just-released report. The rest of the top 10 all received scores of 81 or more.

The highest-rated plans nationwide scored in the 95 to 97 range.

At Reed Smith, the law firm's deferred profit sharing plan score of 87 compared with a 93 for the top-rated plan among its peers. The difference means that a Reed Smith participant would have to work six years longer than a participant in the top-ranked plan, BrightScope said.

At Bayer, the savings and retirement plan score of 87 compared with 90 in the top-rated peer company plan, equating to an additional two years of work.

Among the 53 Pittsburgh plans that BrightScope examined, some of the lowest ranked were the Operating Engineers Local 66 Annuity and Savings Fund with a rating of 49.63 and the Board of Trustees of the Teamsters-National 401k Savings Plan Trust with 45.33.

The Bank of New York Mellon's employee stock ownership plan also scored low at 45.33. But the company's 401(k) savings plan landed in the top 25 (No. 19) with a score of 75.61.

Among the top 25 highly rated local plans, the average account balance was $120,435; the average participation rate was 93 percent; and the average annual company contribution was $5,800.

BrightScope said it obtains data directly from plan sponsors and record keepers, augmenting the information with data from publicly available sources such as the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission. This year's report was based on filings made in 2011, a spokeswoman said.

Employees can go to www.BrightScope.com and type in their employer's name to find out if their retirement plan is rated. BrightScope has rated nearly 50,000 401(k) and 403(b) plans.

Information includes the plan's assets, number of participants, average account balance and top three investment holdings.

BrightScope's list of the top 25 Pittsburgh 401(k) plans and their scores is available at www.brightscope.com/about/press-releases/.

businessnews

Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066. First Published October 8, 2013 8:00 PM


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