While average account balances continued an impressive rise over the past decade, the monthly averages appear to have remained fairly steady from 2018 to early 2020…

As you can see in the charts below, average monthly balances fluctuated a bit at the end of 2018 and into early 2019, dipping from the mid-$140,000s to $132k and $141k for FERS and CSRS participants respectively. (Place your mouse over the bars to see the actual figures.) The dip was a bit more pronounced for FERS than for CSRS participants, which was probably due to FERS accounts being more heavily invested in the stock funds and later-maturing L Funds rather than the bond funds. (All CSRS participants are close to and certainly now eligible for retirement, so a larger proportion of participants probably has more invested in the bond funds.)

And then there was the Coronavirus crash, if we can call it that. We’re still muddling our way through the whole situation currently, and only time will tell how enduring the return to (market) normalcy will be.

While posted FRTIB figures are unfortunately somewhat dated as of this writing, the figures (and general market trends since then) tend to indicate a steady, upwards rise in balances in April and into May-June, as demonstrated in the monthly returns.

Here’s the break-out of the average month-over-month account balances since January 2018.

An interesting trend in BRS average account balances appears in the bottom chart: average account balances for both regular and Roth accounts actually trended downward since the beginning of 2018.

This is probably due to two factors. Some longer-serving military participants probably elected to transition to BRS when it first accepted enrollees. They probably had relatively larger amounts that, when transferred to the new BRS accounts, skewed the averages higher at the outset.

But the explosive growth in BRS participation since January 2018 - from essentially zero to close to 800,000 now - means that the brand-new participants, with very low account holdings (and don’t worry, it will grow!), have most likely pushed the averages down steadily since then.

Related topics: military-investing c-fund f-fund g-fund s-fund i-fund l-funds long-term-investing tsp-updates roth-tsp