What is ASEC?
How ASEC Works
Why is Savings Education So Important?
Why Should Employers Care?

What is ASEC?

ASEC is a national coalition of public- and private-sector institutions committed to making saving and retirement planning a priority for all Americans. ASEC is a program of the Employee Benefit Research Institute Education and Research Fund (EBRI-ERF), a 501©(3) non-profit organization. ASEC does not lobby or take positions on public policy proposals. ASEC educational materials are available at:

ASEC grew out of discussions between representatives of the U.S. Department of Labor and EBRI in late 1994, as the agency prepared to launch its unique Retirement Savings Education Campaign with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and 65 public-and private-organizations.

How ASEC Works

Since its creation in 1995, ASEC has driven the financial security mission forward with the collective leadership and efforts of a coalition of major organizations. ASEC brings together public- and private-sector partners to share information on best practices and to collaborate on financial security initiatives such as:

  • ASEC was a major partner in the development of the federal government's Savings Matters campaign.
  • ASEC was a major resource for the Congress as it drafted the SAVER Act of 1997 (Savings Are Vital to Everyone's Retirement), in conducting the 1998 National Summit on Retirement Savings (, and in funding the 2002 National Summit on Retirement Savings.
  • ASEC's Choose to Save® public service campaign now runs in all 50 states on television and/or radio stations through partnerships with the National Association of Broadcasters and the Associated Press (AP). Tens of thousands of PSAs have now run at a value of more than 50 million dollars.
  • ASEC helped the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission develop the Facts on Saving and Investing Campaign in 1998 to encourage Americans to get the facts about how to achieve financial security.
  • ASEC partnered with the Social Security Administration on the Save For Your Future® national education campaign, launched in 2003, that promoted use of the Social Security Statement.
  • ASEC is the lead resource organization for the 2005 White House Conference on Aging Mini-Summit on "Financial Literacy Throughout the Lifecycle."
  • ASEC benefits from the world class research of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, its parent, including the annual Retirement Confidence Survey and the Health Confidence Survey, and access to analysis from the world's largest database on 401(k) plan participants.
  • ASEC's Ballpark Estimate® retirement planning worksheet and calculator is used by consumers daily, online at, and through partnerships with the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, and other organizations.
  • ASEC is a major force in directing Congressional, Federal, state government, and media attention onto the need for financial education, savings, and retirement planning.

Why is Savings Education So Important?

Americans need a financial security roadmap in order to build the resources they will need for retirement. In the face of reductions in Social Security, Medicare, pensions and retiree health insurance, plus a longer lifespan, individuals need to know more about both accumulation and how to make savings last a lifetime. Against this need, savings in the United States has plummeted since 1970. Recent government statistics indicate that the national savings rate was only 1.4 percent in 2004, among the lowest in the developed world. A quarter of Americans are doing better than this number suggests, but the remaining three-quarters need a plan for financial security.

Consider these findings from EBRI's annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS):

The majority of workers (55 percent) believe they are behind schedule when it comes to planning and saving for retirement. Almost 70 percent of workers have saved for retirement, but many have saved less than $25,000. Sixty-eight percent of today's workers are skeptical that Social Security will be able to provide them benefits of at least equal value to those current retirees receive. Doing a retirement savings calculation can have a positive impact on the way a person saves or plans for retirement, but only about 40 percent of workers have taken this important step.

Why Should Employers Care?

Employers have a greater stake in promoting savings and retirement planning than ever before. With the government playing a more significant role in determining how employers will be able to meet this objective, ASEC brings them together in a partnership. With the shift to defined-contribution pension plans, such as 401(k) plans, more of the responsibility for retirement savings is falling on workers. In addition, according to the RCS, workers are more likely to save through the workplace than on their own. Consequently, employers that educate their workers about saving and retirement, and encourage them to sign up for work-based plans, will be the most successful in attracting, retaining, and retiring workers. In these competitive times, employers who make savings, retirement planning, and financial security a priority will have an edge.