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Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™: September 2021 Observations

401(k) investors remained light traders in September, according to the Alight Solutions 401(k) IndexTM. During trades, investors tended to move money from equities to fixed incomes. There were no days with above-normal1 trading activity.
September observations:        
•    On average, 0.009% of 401(k) balances were traded daily.
•    19 of 21 days favored fixed income funds.

The Alight Solutions 401(k) Index statistics for the month of September:

Index statistics


2021 YTD

Total transfers as percentage of starting balance



# Fixed days

19 (90%)

98 (52%)

# Equity days

2 (10%)

90 (48%)

# Above-normal days




Inflows and outflows during the month of September:

  • Trading inflows mainly went to stable value, bond and money market funds.
  • Outflows were primarily from large U.S. equity, mid U.S. equity and target date funds.

Asset classes with most trading inflows in September

  Percentage of inflows Index dollar value ($ mil)
Stable value funds 45% $146
Bond  funds 37% $120
Money market funds 14% $46

Asset classes with most trading outflows in September

  Percentage of outflows Index dollar value ($ mil)
Large U.S. equity funds 46% $147
Mid U.S. equity funds 20% $66
Target date funds 14% $45


September investment portfolios:

  • After reflecting market movements and trading activity, average asset allocation in equities decreased from 70.2% in August to 69.8% in September.
  • New contributions to equities increased from 69.3% in August to 69.4% in September.

Asset classes with largest percentage of total balance at end of September

  Percentage of balance Index dollar value ($ mil)
Target date funds 30% $79,956
Large U.S. equity funds 26% $69,492
Stable value funds 8% $20,965

Asset classes with most contributions in September

  Percentage of contributions Index dollar value ($ mil)
Target date funds 48% $587
Large U.S. equity funds 21% $254
International equity funds 8% $93

Returns for common indices

  September 2021 YTD
Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index -0.9% -1.6%
S&P 500 Index -4.7% 15.9%
Russell 2000 Index -3.0% 12.4%
MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Index (net) -3.2% 5.9%
  1. A “normal” level of relative transfer activity is when the net daily movement of participants’ balances as a percent of total 401(k) balances within the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™ equals between 0.3 times and 1.5 times the average daily net activity of the preceding 12 months. A “high” relative transfer activity day is when the net daily movement exceeds two times the average daily net activity. A “moderate” relative transfer activity day is when the net daily movement is between 1.5 and two times the average daily net activity of the preceding 12 months.

Related Insights

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Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™: Full Year 2020 observations

In 2020, 401(k) investors were busy traders out of equities as stocks were falling and slowly returned to them after their rebound.