A Time for Renewal and Resurgence in the DC Market

June 11, 2021
Author: Sonia Davis

There’s a new energy and sense of excitement in the air, as employers begin to reopen their doors and welcome back employees now that most of the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. Like many of us, plan sponsors have harnessed the pandemic period as an opportunity to reflect on the areas that matter most in life and for their 401(k) plan participants. Just like we’ve used this time to deepen family relationships, remodel our homes and revisit our big-picture life goals, plan sponsors are spending less time focusing on reducing plan costs and returning to the heart of what’s truly important—fostering a greater sense of financial wellness and revamping their core 401(k) lineups.

Even as plan sponsors waived fees for hardship withdrawals and loans, the vast majority of plan participants have resisted the urge to pull money out of their 401(k)s. The question is with the world clamoring to travel and spend money again, will participants continue to be as investment savvy? Fortunately, it seems they will have plenty of help. Just published in May, this year’s Retirement Planscape report uncovered that one of the biggest retirement market trends is increased access to financial and investment guidance via plan advisors, company service reps and automated advice models. In fact, access to financial wellness programs is at an all-time high.

Moreover, as plan sponsors recommit themselves to offering the most competitive 401(k) investment offerings, future lineup changes are expected to be overwhelmingly positive, offering DC investment managers a chance to grow their DC plan assets. After a turbulent year, however, this year’s plan sponsor report found a new set of consideration drivers have emerged with distinct differences plan providers must be mindful of within plan-size segments. Brand trust is still important, but the factors that really matter are in the eye of the beholder.

The most competitive providers remain committed to providing proactive updates, offering virtual meetings for participant education and being sensitive to plan sponsors’ unique needs. The full study delves into these important industry trends and benchmarks the competitive strengths and weaknesses of the leading 32 DC plan providers and 44 DC investment managers. Opportunities to create more compelling brand differentiation and help plan sponsors recommit to their ultimate 401(k) goals await.

The full report assesses the plan sponsor market and identifies strengths and weaknesses in brand, loyalty and key experience metrics. The report explores what plan sponsors consider when switching or choosing a new provider. It also examines the use and perceptions of DC investment managers from the perspective of investment decision-makers from organizations offering 401(k)s. Click below to learn more.

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Sonia Davis
Senior Product Director, Cogent Syndicated

Sonia is a senior product director for Cogent Syndicated with more than 12 years of market research experience. She has managed numerous qualitative and quantitative studies in financial services industry research, as well as the hospitality, consumer packaged goods and retail sectors. Prior to Escalent, Sonia served as a community manager for C Space, a public relations specialist for Putnam Investments and as a staff reporter for Community Newspaper Company. Sonia earned an MBA from Boston University School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Simmons College. She’s a proud finisher of the rainiest Boston Marathon on record (2018), but truly enjoys triathlon training and outdoor adventures with her black lab.