A brighter retirement for some Richmonders

The chances for a decent retirement go up in Richmond if you work for a big law firm or a tobacco conglomerate.

That’s according to a recent study that rated the retirement plans of some of Richmond’s largest companies.

California-based BrightScope looked at the IRS form 5500s filed for the 401(k), profit-sharing and other retirement plans that had at least $50 million in assets. The most recent data were from fiscal 2009.

The scores are based on the level of employer contributions and employee participation, called “company generosity” and “investment menu quality,” and the fees for each plan.

Of the Top 10 plans on the list, three were from tobacco industry firms and three were from major law firms.

Here’s the Top 10:

1. Altria Client Services Inc.
2. Albemarle Corporation
3. Hunton & Williams LLP
4. Genworth Financial Inc.
5. McGuireWoods LLP
6. Philip Morris USA Inc.
7. NewMarket Corporation
8. Williams Mullen Clark & Dobbins P.C.
9. Bear Island Paper Company LLC
10. Markel Corporation

The top plan, the deferred profit-sharing plan for salaried employees at Altria Client Services Inc., had $2.5 billion in assets and more than 7,000 participants. It had a rating of 85.35.

Rounding out the Top 10, Markel Corp., had $150 million in assets, 1,600 participants and a rating of 78.43.

“It’s not just saying, ‘Who’s giving the most money?’” said Matt Illian, a local investment adviser for Marotta Wealth Management. “The other part is: Are the employees taking advantage of the money that is out there, and is it set up in a user-friendly way and are people staying around long enough to keep the money?’”

On the runners-up list, CarMax brought up the rear, with a rating of 56.49. Illian said CarMax matches about 1.25 percent of employees’ contributions to its retirement plan. Many of the top plans in the rankings match 3 percent, he said.

CarMax’s plan also doesn’t vest until after three years, so employees can’t get access or keep their funds unless they stay there for that length of time.

The runners-up included:

Swedish Match North America Inc.
MeadWestvaco Corporation
Colfax Corporation
Alfa Laval Inc.
Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co.
Dominion Resources, Inc.
Hilb Rogal & Hobbs Company
Media General Inc.
Tredegar Corporation
Owens & Minor Inc.
Estes Express Lines
FIL Holdings Corporation
CarMax Inc.

More Reading: Baby boomers near 65 with retirements in jeopardy, Washington Post.

The chances for a decent retirement go up in Richmond if you work for a big law firm or a tobacco conglomerate.

That’s according to a recent study that rated the retirement plans of some of Richmond’s largest companies.

California-based BrightScope looked at the IRS form 5500s filed for the 401(k), profit-sharing and other retirement plans that had at least $50 million in assets. The most recent data were from fiscal 2009.

The scores are based on the level of employer contributions and employee participation, called “company generosity” and “investment menu quality,” and the fees for each plan.

Of the Top 10 plans on the list, three were from tobacco industry firms and three were from major law firms.

Here’s the Top 10:

1. Altria Client Services Inc.
2. Albemarle Corporation
3. Hunton & Williams LLP
4. Genworth Financial Inc.
5. McGuireWoods LLP
6. Philip Morris USA Inc.
7. NewMarket Corporation
8. Williams Mullen Clark & Dobbins P.C.
9. Bear Island Paper Company LLC
10. Markel Corporation

The top plan, the deferred profit-sharing plan for salaried employees at Altria Client Services Inc., had $2.5 billion in assets and more than 7,000 participants. It had a rating of 85.35.

Rounding out the Top 10, Markel Corp., had $150 million in assets, 1,600 participants and a rating of 78.43.

“It’s not just saying, ‘Who’s giving the most money?’” said Matt Illian, a local investment adviser for Marotta Wealth Management. “The other part is: Are the employees taking advantage of the money that is out there, and is it set up in a user-friendly way and are people staying around long enough to keep the money?’”

On the runners-up list, CarMax brought up the rear, with a rating of 56.49. Illian said CarMax matches about 1.25 percent of employees’ contributions to its retirement plan. Many of the top plans in the rankings match 3 percent, he said.

CarMax’s plan also doesn’t vest until after three years, so employees can’t get access or keep their funds unless they stay there for that length of time.

The runners-up included:

Swedish Match North America Inc.
MeadWestvaco Corporation
Colfax Corporation
Alfa Laval Inc.
Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co.
Dominion Resources, Inc.
Hilb Rogal & Hobbs Company
Media General Inc.
Tredegar Corporation
Owens & Minor Inc.
Estes Express Lines
FIL Holdings Corporation
CarMax Inc.

More Reading: Baby boomers near 65 with retirements in jeopardy, Washington Post.

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Peter Hiltunen
Peter Hiltunen
11 years ago

Do you know if this analysis considered traditional pension plans or just savings (i.e., 401k) plans? I suspect pension plans were excluded which, if I’m right, could impact who’s on the finalist list and who’s on the runner-up list. Is there anyone I can contact to find out?

Thanks.

Kevin Anderson
Kevin Anderson
11 years ago

Interesting story but I would really take these kinds of opaque ratings systems with a grain of salt. The only way to retire successfully in this era is to do your own due diligence. Everyone in financial services already knows Moody’s/S&P/Fitch ratings are a bunch of bull and without a more in depth explanation what’s to say these Brightscope ratings have any useful meaning at all? The Brightscope website itself does a terrible job of explaining things as it lists 6 areas where the plans are rated but then goes on to explain that these 6 areas have nothing to… Read more »

Sid Spencer
Sid Spencer
11 years ago

To Pete’s question, I am pretty sure they only look at DC plans, pulling 5500 data from a public sources, and consequently DB plans are ignored. I don’t have a name to contact, but I am sure their website will have that information.

Matthew Illian
Matthew Illian
11 years ago

@Peter, this study focuses only on 401(k) and profit sharing benefits. A complete retirement package evaluation would have to include Defined Benefits plans, retiree health plans, accrued vacations days and a variety of other misc. programs. I find that Brightscope provides a great first look into what is typically the most important program; the 401(k). Large companies have been shedding their Defined Benefit and retiree health care programs forcing employees to take more ownership over their own retirement readiness. As Kevin mentions, you need to do your own due diligence. Too many employees treat a 401(k) plan like a check… Read more »