Thought Leadership

Charting a New Course

June 13, 2019
Author: Sonia Davis
Charting a New Course

Editor’s Note: Yesterday we published our 2019 Retirement Planscape report – take a first look at the highlights!


DC plan sponsors appear to be settling into a more reflective and exploratory phase, casting an expansive look at what’s truly in the best interest of their plan participants. Gone are the days in which employers feel a sense of accomplishment simply by offering employees access to a 401(k) plan. In today’s industry, plan sponsors are working harder than ever, mulling ways to incorporate financial wellness and selecting holistic investment options to not only help employees grow their retirement savings, but offer solutions designed to generate income in their future retirement years, assisting them long after they leave the workplace.

In an effort to explore the various pathways to success and make sense of the broader picture, DC plan sponsors are enlisting additional third-party expertise, with Small-Mid and Large-Mega plans relying on a greater number of financial advisors compared with previous years. Enthusiasm for outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) models is high, with half of all 401(k) plans interested in adopting an OCIO model in the next 12 months.

This renewed sense of care on behalf of participants is further reflected in the firms plan sponsors are looking to partner with. Above all, providers must exude trustworthiness—the most pivotal driver of brand consideration among DC plan providers and DC investment managers. Because this attribute is so difficult to define, we asked survey respondents to describe the phrase “is a company I trust” in their own words. Among the most poignant responses were “doing exactly what it says it is going to do, does not make excuses” and “corrects errors, is responsive and has a sense of urgency” to “cares about their customers…does the right thing even when no one is looking,” underscoring the power of customer service, reliability and integrity.

As DC plan sponsors set forth new intentions and more aspirational goals, providers must stay in lockstep with plan sponsors’ evolving needs and continue to partner with DC advisors and consultants who serve as influential resources in this journey. Our Retirement Planscape report sheds light on these emerging trends and pinpoints the competitive strengths and weaknesses of the leading 35 DC plan providers and 46 DC investment managers. Opportunities for brand differentiation and plan-sponsor inspiration awaits within each segment of the DC market.


Click below to learn more about the full Retirement Planscape report.

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Sharigian Sonia
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.