Based in San Diego, BrightScope rates 401(k) plans and assigns them a numerical rating after analyzing more than 200 factors including employee participation rates, fees, generosity (whether the employer provides a profit sharing contribution or match) and the quality of the investment options.
The top 25 list only includes plans with at least $100 million in assets offered by employers within a 25-mile radius of San Francisco City Hall, which includes parts of Marin, San Mateo and Alameda counties.
Dodge & Cox, a San Francisco mutual fund company, ranked high for its low fees and profit sharing generosity, said Brooks Herman, head of data and research with BrightScope. He added, “All the top 25 plans are pretty spectacular.” Their fees, on average, are 0.41 percent of assets per year, versus 0.48 percent for all plans nationwide.
The average account balance for top 25 plans was $170,060 and the average participation rate was 93 percent. Employee contributions were about $10,500 a year on average for the top 25 plans, compared to $5,200 for all plans of this size, Herman said. The average amount contributed by employers was $7,172.
In August, BrightScope released its top 25 list for San Jose/Silicon Valley. It was topped by the Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group. In Silicon Valley, the average account balance was $130,033, the average participation rate was 92 percent and the average employee contribution was $12,310. The average amount contributed by employers was $6,650.
The top 25 list includes “industries with highly educated and compensated employees,” Herman said. Plans for pilots, doctors, bankers, lawyers and other professionals rank high in every city. They are often profit sharing plans, and if the company has a good year, they contribute excess income to the plan, he said.
On the flip side, retail industries — with higher turnover, lower pay and less educated workers — tend to rank on the low end. Even if their workers know it’s important to save, it’s hard to do, Herman said.
BrightScope says it has rated nearly 50,000 401k and 403b plans. Employees can search for their plan at BrightScope.com.
Here is a list of the top 25 plans for the San Francisco area:
1. Dodge & Cox 89.54
2. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman 87.18
3. Bechtel Corporation 86.58
4. Cooley 86.12
5. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe 85.93
6. Gilead Sciences 85.92
7. MedAmerica 85.80
8. Dolby Laboratories 84.83
9. California Advanced Imaging Medical Associates 84.38
10. Charles Schwab 83.68
11. Morrison & Foerster 83.67
12. Exponent 83.60
13. Autodesk 83.45
14. Littler Mendelson 83.15
15. PG&E 83.11
16. Informatica 83.11
17. Swinerton 82.82
18. Oracle 82.63
19. Fisher Asset Management 82.42
20. Genesys Labs 81.14
21. Alexander & Baldwin 81.11
22. Pixar 81.04
23. DPR Construction 80.75
24. First Republic Bank 80.75
25. California Physicians’ Service d/b/a Blue Shield of California 79.73
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