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Alight Solutions 401(k) Index: Third Quarter 2021 Observations

There was little trading activity among 401(k) investors in the third quarter, according to the Alight Solution's 401(k) IndexTM. There were no days of above-normal1 trading activity. When trades occurred, they generally saw money moving to more conservative investments, with 84% of the days favoring fixed income.

Third quarter observations:        

  • Net transfers for the quarter were 0.30% of balances. While this is nearly double the second quarter's record low, it is roughly half of the average quarterly's value for 2015-2020.  
  • 54 out of 64 trading days in the third quarter had net trading dollars moving from equities to fixed income.


The Alight Solutions 401(k) Index statistics for Q3 2021 and year to date:

Index statistics

Q3 2021

2021 YTD

Total transfers as percentage of starting balance



# Fixed days

54 (84%)

98 (52%)

# Equity days

10 (16%)

90 (48%)

# Above-normal days




Asset classes with most trading inflows in Q4 2021


Percentage of inflows


Index dollar value ($mil)

Stable value funds



Bond funds



Money market funds




Asset classes with most trading outflows in Q4 2021


Percentage of outflows


Index dollar value ($mil)

Large U.S. equity funds



Small U.S. equity funds



Mid U.S. equity funds




Returns for common indices

Q2 2021

2021 YTD

Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index



S&P 500 Index



Russell 2000 Index



MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Index (net)



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 2 times the average daily net activity of the preceding 12 months.

Related Insights

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™

Monthly and quarterly Alight Solutions 401(k) Index Reports

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index: April 2022 Observations

There were no above-normal1 days in April. However, net transfers in April were up slightly compared to March (.10% vs .09%) as investors moved money out of equities and into fixed income.

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

July was another light month of trading in 401(k) plans, according to the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index TM. Net trading activity in July was 0.07% of balances, a slight increase from 0.06% in June, but well below the trailing five-year average of 0.21%.