Schwab Report: Self-Directed 401(k) Investors Stay the Course in Q3, See Balances Increase 12.8% Year-over-Year
According to Charles Schwab’s SDBA Indicators Report, an
industry-leading benchmark on retirement plan participant
investment activity within self-directed brokerage accounts
(SDBAs), the average account balance across all participant
accounts finished Q3 2021 at $341,068, a 12.8% increase
year-over-year and a 2.0% decrease from Q2 2021.
SDBAs are brokerage accounts within retirement plans, including
401(k)s and other types of retirement plans, that participants can
use to invest retirement savings in individual stocks and bonds, as
well as exchange-traded funds, mutual funds and other securities
that are not part of their retirement plan's core investment
The third quarter SDBA Indicators Report overall showed steady
investing behavior among participants. Trading volumes were similar
to trades from one year ago and slightly lower than last quarter at
an average of 13.1 trades per account compared to 13.8 in Q2.
Participant holdings also remained similar to last quarter, with
a slight increase in cash holdings. The highest allocation of
participant assets was in equities (36%). Mutual funds were the
second largest holding (30%), followed by ETFs (20%), cash (13%)
and fixed income (1%).
The data also reveals specific asset class and sector holdings
within each investment category:
- Mutual funds: Large-cap funds had
the largest allocation at approximately 34% of all mutual fund
allocations, followed by taxable bond (19%) and international (15%)
- Equities: The largest equity
sector holding was Information Technology at 29.8%, up slightly
from 29.3% last quarter. The top five equity holdings remained the
same as last quarter. Apple was the top overall equity holding,
comprising 10.6% of the equity allocation of portfolios. The other
equity holdings in the top five include Tesla (6.9%), Amazon
(4.9%), Microsoft (2.9%) and NVIDIA (2.0%).
- ETFs: Among ETFs, investors
continued to allocate the most dollars to U.S. equity (50%),
followed by sector ETFs (14%), U.S. fixed income (14%) and
international equity (13%).
Other Report Highlights
- Advised accounts held higher average account balances compared
to non-advised accounts - $542,365 vs. $294,215.
- Gen X had the most advised accounts at approximately 49%,
followed by Baby Boomers (35%) and Millennials (14%).
- Gen X made up approximately 45% of SDBA participants, followed
by Baby Boomers (31%) and Millennials (18%).
- Baby Boomers had the highest SDBA balances at an average of
$526,193, followed by Gen X at $301,686 and Millennials at
- On average, participants held 12.4 positions in their SDBAs at
the end of Q3 2021, consistent with Q2 2021.
About the SDBA Indicators Report
The SDBA Indicators Report includes data collected from
approximately 176,000 retirement plan participants who currently
have balances between $5,000 and $10 million in their Schwab
Personal Choice Retirement Account®. Data is extracted quarterly on
all accounts that are open as of quarter-end and meet the balance
The SDBA Indicators Report tracks a wide variety of investment
activity and profile information on participants with a Schwab
Personal Choice Retirement Account (PCRA), ranging from asset
allocation trends and asset flow in various equity, exchange-traded
fund and mutual fund categories, to age trends and trading
activity. The SDBA Indicators Report provides insight into PCRA
users’ perceptions of the markets and the investment decisions they
Data contained in this quarterly report is from the third
quarter of 2021 and can be found here, along with prior
About Charles Schwab
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individuals create a better tomorrow. We have a history of
challenging the status quo in our industry, innovating in ways that
benefit investors and the advisors and employers who serve them,
and championing our clients’ goals with passion and integrity.
More information is available at www.aboutschwab.com. Follow us
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May Lose Value
The securities shown are for informational purposes only and are
not a recommendation to transact in any security.
Through its operating subsidiaries, The Charles Schwab
Corporation (NYSE: SCHW) provides a full range of securities
brokerage, banking, money management and financial advisory
services to individual investors and independent investment
advisors. Its broker-dealer subsidiary, Charles Schwab & Co.,
Inc. (member SIPC, www.sipc.org), and affiliates offer a complete
range of investment services and products including an extensive
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advice; retirement plan and equity compensation plan services;
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This report is for informational purposes only and is not a
solicitation, or a recommendation that any particular investor
should purchase or sell any particular security.
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through Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (member SIPC), the
registered broker/dealer, which also provides other brokerage and
custody services to its customers.
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not a recommendation, offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer
to buy any security.
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Mike Peterson Charles Schwab 330-908-4334
email@example.com Carly Taylor The Neibart Group
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