View all news

Schwab Report: Self-Directed 401(k) Investors’ Balances Rise, Allocations Remain Steady in Fourth Quarter


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 at $310,400 for the fourth quarter of 2023, up 10.8% year-over-year and a 7.9% increase from the third quarter. Trading volumes averaged 9.7 trades per account compared to 7.8 trades per account in the third quarter and similar to trading volumes from the fourth quarter of 2022.

Allocation Trends

Overall, participant holdings in the fourth quarter were similar to the third quarter.

  • Equities: Equities remained the largest holding at 34.5%. The largest equity sector holding was Information Technology at 31.6%. The top equity holdings remained Apple (12.0%), Tesla (7.8%), Amazon (4.8%), Nvidia (4.7%) and Microsoft (3.9%).
  • Mutual funds: Mutual funds were again the second largest holding at 28.4%, with the largest allocation going to large-cap stock funds at 33.0%, followed by taxable bond funds (15.1%) and money market funds (14.6%).
  • ETFs: ETFs held 22.8% of participant assets. Among ETFs, investors continued to allocate the most dollars to U.S. equity (52.6%), followed by fixed income (14.1%), international equity (12.5%) and sector (10.0%) ETFs. 
  • Cash and Fixed Income: Cash & equivalents held 8.9% of participant assets while 5.4% of assets were held in fixed income.

Other Report Highlights

  • Advised accounts held higher average account balances compared to non-advised accounts, $502,424 vs. $270,803.
  • Gen X had the most advised accounts (52%), followed by Baby Boomers (26%) and Millennials (19%).
  • Gen X made up approximately 46% of SDBA participants, followed by Baby Boomers (27%) and Millennials (21%).
  • Baby Boomers had the highest SDBA balances at an average of $502,354, followed by Gen X at $296,812 and Millennials at $109,298.
  • On average, participants held 11.8 positions in their SDBAs at the end of Q4 2023, slightly lower than Q4 2022 and the same as Q3 2023.

About the SDBA Indicators Report

The SDBA Indicators Report includes data collected from approximately 284,000 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 criteria.

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 make.

Data contained in this quarterly report is from the fourth quarter of 2023, and can be found here, along with prior reports.

About Charles Schwab

At Charles Schwab we believe in the power of investing to help 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 Follow us on X, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.


Brokerage Products: Not FDIC Insured • No Bank Guarantee • May Lose Value

Schwab Personal Choice Retirement Account (PCRA) is offered through Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (Member SIPC), the registered broker/dealer, which also provides other brokerage and custody services to its customers.

Investors should consider carefully information contained in the prospectus, including investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. You can request a prospectus by calling 800-435-4000. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing. Money Market funds are neither insured nor guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although the funds seek to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in the fund.

The information here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The type of securities and investment strategies mentioned may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review a security transaction for his or her own particular situation. Data here is obtained from what are considered reliable sources; however, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.



Mike Peterson   
Charles Schwab

Carly Taylor   
The Neibart Group

Source: The Charles Schwab Corporation

Multimedia Files:

View all news