Valley Forge, Pa. (March 4, 2003) -- While the stock market has plunged nearly 15 percent per year over the past three years, the average 401(k) plan participant saw the performance of their retirement investments dip 6 percent annually, while account balances fell less than 1 percent, according to a study by The Vanguard Group.

The Vanguard report, "Participant Report Card for 2002: The Impact of the Bear Market on Retirement Savings Plans," looked at the personalized returns of 401(k) participants from 1999 through December 31, 2002. The study, completed in February, was based on the personalized returns of 50,000 Vanguard participants.

"Many 401(k) participants’ returns have been negative, and for some the losses have been just as severe as or worse than the market drop," said James M. Norris, Principal, Vanguard Institutional Investor Group. "But for the typical participant, their personalized performance posted better returns than the stock market averages and their account balances remained nearly even. The reasons? A balanced portfolio and the benefits of making regular contributions during a declining market."

Personalized returns used in the study are the internal rate of return, or dollar-weighted return, for each participant in the sample. A copy is available of the study is available at http://institutional.vanguard.com/ Institutional/retirement_research.html.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire Staff

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