BrightScope Top 30 401k Plans of 2012

Today BrightScope is pleased to announce the Top 30 401k Plans of 2012. BrightScope’s Top 30 list comprises large 401k plans with high overall quality, as measured by the BrightScope Rating. The BrightScope Rating measures how effective a 401k plan is at getting its participants to retirement. More details about the BrightScope Rating can be obtained in the FAQ section of the BrightScope website.

Which traits define the plans that make the Top 30 Plans list? Here is a quick analysis of the factors that drove top BrightScope Ratings:

1. Generous Company Contributions:

Company contributions are a major component of the BrightScope Rating and thus the Top 30 Plans List. Offering a match or profit sharing contribution to the plan is a great incentive for employees to participate and defer their salary towards retirement.  The #1 Plan, Marathon Oil Company Thrift Plan, matches 100% of the first 7% contributed to the plan for an average Company Contribution of over $23,000 per participant.  This generosity, in turn, helped push the average salary deferral for the plan to over $38,000 per participant.  The average company generosity for a Top 30 Plan in 2012 is over $12,100.

2. Immediate Plan Eligibility:

A plan’s eligibility period is the length of time between when an employee is hired and when they are eligible to participate in the plan. Short plan eligibility requirements allow new hires to save more towards retirement. This year’s Top 30 list includes twenty-four plans with immediate eligibility. Removing barriers to saving is important to the top plans.

3. Immediate Vesting:

While a participant’s elective deferrals are always immediately vested, company contributions can take up to six years to vest depending upon the plan. Twenty-one of the Top 30 plans offer immediate vesting of company contributions thus ensuring that the money in their account is theirs to keep. There are two plans on the Top 30 list that requires six years of employment to become fully vested.

4. Low Fees:

Plan costs can greatly affect investment returns therefore altering participant account balances. BrightScope’s Total Plan Cost (TPC) calculations include investment expense ratios and administrative costs. Among plans found in this year’s Top 30 list, the average Total Plan Cost has dropped by 1.5 basis points to 0.29%. GlaxoSmithKline Retirement Savings Plan has the lowest Total Plan Cost at just 6 basis points, as the company pays for some plan expenses directly from corporate treasury.

5. High Participation Rates:

The first step in saving for retirement is participating in an employer’s retirement plan. Five plans have 100% participation rate this  year, including ExxonMobil Savings Plan, Wellington Retirement and Pension Plan, Amgen Retirement and Savings Plan, Ernst & Young Partnership Retirement Plan, and GlaxoSmithKline Retirement Savings Plan.  We have seen participation rates climb from 93.5% in the 2010 Top 30 List to 95.3% in this year’s list.

6. High Salary Deferrals:

Plans within the 2012 Top 30 list average over $12,700 in salary deferrals per participant, up from $11,600 in 2011. The 2012 list has an average company generosity that is over 300% more generous than other 401(k) plans with $1 billion in assets or higher.

The entire list of the 2012 Top 30 401k Plans with more than $1 billion in assets:

2012 Rank

2011 Rank



BrightScope Rating

1 N/A marathon_logoMarathon Oil Company Thrift Plan Houston, TX 91.65
2 2 saudi_aramco_logo1The Savings Plan of Saudi Arabian Oil Company Houston, TX 90.87
3 1 southwest_logoSouthwest Airlines Pilots Retirement Savings Plan Dallas, TX 90.82
4 3 Wellington Management LogoWellington Retirement and Pension Plan Boston, MA 90.20
5 6 amgen_logoAmgen Retirement and Savings Plan Thousand Oaks, CA 89.65
6 5 united-airlines1United Airlines Pilot Directed Account Plan Chicago, IL


7 7 credit_suisse_logoEmployees Savings and Retirement Plan of Credit Suisse Securities (USA), LLC New York, NY 88.31
8 14 Sanofi-Aventis US Savings Plan Bridgewater, NJ 87.66
9 9
Southern California Permanente Medical Group Retirement Plan
Pasadena, CA 87.64
10 11 Bristol Myers Squibb LogoBristol-Myers Squibb Company Savings and Investment Program New York, NY 87.01
11 19 Google LogoGoogle, Inc. 401k Savings Plan Mountain View, CA 86.99
12 12 exxonmobil_logoExxonMobil Savings Plan Houston, TX 86.88
13 10 bayer_logoBayer Corporation Savings and Retirement Plan Pittsburgh, PA 86.82
14 22 ibm_logoIBM Savings Plan Armonk, NY 86.71
15 20 Genentech, Inc. Tax Reduction Investment Plan South San Francisco, CA 86.71
16 13 chevron_logoChevron Employee Savings Investment Plan San Ramon, CA 86.65
17 15 BASF LogoBASF Corporation Retirement Savings Plan Florham Park, NJ 86.58
18 N/A The Roche Savings and Pay Deferral Plan Nutley, NJ 86.58
19 17 Ernst & Young LogoErnst & Young Partnership Retirement Plan Secaucus, NJ 86.55
20 18 Anadarko Employee Savings Plan The Woodlands, TX 86.47
21 N/A Cisco Systems, Inc. 401k Plan San Jose, CA 86.35
22 23 bp_logoBP Employee Savings Plan Houston, TX 86.26
23 24 Shell Provident Fund Houston, TX 86.06
24 27 ubs_logoUBS Savings and Investment Plan New York, NY 85.85
25 N/A Deferred Profit-Sharing Plan for Salaried Employees Richmond, VA 85.81
26 21 conoco_logoConocoPhillips Savings Plan Bartlesville, OK 85.79
27 29 Goldman Sachs 401k Plan New York, NY 85.71
28 16 Bechtel Trust & Thrift Plan San Francisco, CA 85.70
29 26 glaxo_logoGlaxoSmithKline Retirement Savings Plan Philadelphia, PA 85.62
30 4 Deloitte LogoDeloitte Profit Sharing Plan New York, NY 85.60

To learn more about the BrightScope 2012 Top 30 401k Plans List please contact us at This award is based on plan experience through 12/31/2011.

*DISCLAIMER: Ratings continually change as data is updated over time. Ratings should be viewed as a “snapshot in time.” To view current ratings information for a given plan click to view the companies plan page. The rating on the plan page may not match the rating at the time of the release of the rankings.