Election years can introduce new uncertainty and stress for employees, but that shouldn’t affect their long-term retirement savings strategy. It’s a good time to educate employees on the importance of staying the course and the resources available to help.

Given that presidential elections affect everything from foreign policies to local politics, it’s no wonder they can also impact employees’ retirement plans. According to a recent survey:

  • 35% of working Americans say they are delaying decisions about saving for retirement until after the 2024 presidential and congressional elections.1
  • 42% of working Americans believe that the pending elections will have a severe or major impact on their ability to save for retirement.1

However, both short- and long-term election effects tend to be negligible. The election news cycle and outcome can cause volatility in the financial markets, though that’s typically short-lived.And potentially, presidential elections can impact retirement plans beyond portfolio investment performance. A new administration may push for economic or tax policy changes. The regulatory environment and investor sentiment can also shift, altering people’s retirement savings plans and goals.

But for employees, it’s important to reiterate that reacting to election news in the near term is ill-advised. Instead, employees should maintain their retirement savings and investments strategy and avoid rash decisions. Employers can help employees stay the course by providing education and tools to help navigate the uncertainty of an election year.

The Election Effect
Presidential elections can impact employee retirement plans in multiple ways, including the following: 

1. Increased market volatility in the short term
Campaign news and political uncertainty can play out in the financial markets, especially during a big election year. Although when you look at the entire presidential election year, average annual returns of the S&P 500 from 1937 through 2022 were 9.9%2 showing that over the long term, the election effect on markets is limited. In fact, research shows that economic factors and inflation are more apt to affect long-term investor returns than elections.3 This is why financial professionals recommend investors take election news in stride and stay the course with their long-term retirement strategy.

2. Changes in policies
Elections and their outcomes have more potential to impact retirement plans via changes in the administration and Congress. Those shifts can lead to new policies affecting debt, savings, investments, and more. For example, Congress approved the SECURE 2.0 legislation in 2022, which increased the required minimum distribution (RMD) age for retirement plans from 72 to 73. It’s one of several beneficial changes to RMD rules. The new law also allows employers to help employees with student debt via employer matches.That not only helps employees pay down their student loans faster but also frees up money employees can use for their retirement savings.

3. Regulatory shifts
Elections bring new administrative leaders, who, of course, have their own legislative initiatives and aims. Changes in the regulatory environment can affect how retirement plans are managed and administered and impact investments, savings, and other financial issues. For example, some financial professionals anticipate the outcome of the pending election could yield regulatory discussions and possible changes regarding employer mandates for retirement plans, the age employees can access such plans, and various tax advantages set to expire in 2025.5

4. Investor sentiment
Lastly, presidential elections can influence investor sentiment and consumer confidence in the economy. Politically influenced outlooks may affect individual investment decisions. For example, retirement savers may react to an election by changing their portfolio allocation, reducing their contributions, or shifting their risk tolerance. The outcome of an election may make individuals more or less optimistic about the future, depending on their political affiliation. Since retirement saving is often decades-long, employers should encourage employees to focus on the overall strategy versus the outcome of a single election.

How employers can help
Employers can help their employees navigate the uncertainty of an election year and help encourage them to keep their retirement planning on track. Here are some ways employers can assist their employees:

  • Provide educational resources. Start by educating employees about the impact of elections on retirement plans and savings. Reinforce the idea that near-term volatility doesn’t warrant dramatic changes to investment strategies and highlight the benefits of staying the course. In addition, provide access to webinars and financial professionals who can discuss the potential election and any concerns employees may have about it affecting their retirement. The Program’s navigating market volatility information is a great resource to share.
  • Double down on plan communication. Maintain and even consider increasing your retirement plan communication to employees. Include updates about plan changes and reminders about existing plan policies. Also, urge employees to ask questions regarding their retirement plans and provide information about how to do so.
  • Highlight retirement planning tools. Ensure employees understand where to find and how to use retirement planning tools and calculators. The ABA Retirement Funds Program offers participants tools to help evaluate and assess their savings progress and retirement readiness. For example, encourage them to log on to the ABA Retirement Funds Program web site to help them set goals, track their progress, and learn more about effective saving and retirement strategies.
  • Offer tax-advantaged savings guidance. Educate your employees about workplace benefits and accounts that leverage tax advantages to accelerate retirement and other savings (e.g., health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts, etc.) that may be available to them. These benefits may help employees’ overall financial wellness and can help alleviate election-related anxiety. 
  • Underscore diversification strategies. Remind employees about the importance of portfolio diversification during economic or political volatile periods. Offer information outlining how diversification strategies align with employees’ retirement savings goals and risk tolerances.
  • Provide advisory benefits. Employers can also bolster their benefits by offering financial advisory services to employees. These benefits give employees access to financial professionals who can provide personalized financial guidance to help put employees on the path to their retirement savings goals.

Election years introduce new and, sometimes, heightened stress for employees as they consider what they want for the country’s future. But that stress doesn’t have to affect their retirement savings strategy. Employers that help employees understand how elections affect — and don’t affect — their retirement plans can help reduce anxiety and improve financial wellness across their workforce.


  1. Voya Financial Consumer Insights & Research survey conducted January 22-23, 2024, among 1,005 adults aged 18+ in the U.S., featuring 455 Americans working full-time or part-time.
  2. Presidential election years like 2024 are usually winners for U.S. stocks. Morningstar Dec. 16, 2023
  3. “How presidential elections affect the stock market.” U.S. Bank, January 30, 2024.
  4. “SECURE 2.0 Act Summary: New Retirement Plan Rules to Know.” Kiplinger, December 18, 2023.
  5.  Plan Adviser, November 27, 2023.  

This information is provided by Voya for educational purposes only; it is not intended to provide legal, tax, or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk. Participants should consult an independent tax, legal, or financial professional for specific advice on their individual situations.

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