Cogent Syndicated

DC advisors are assuming a greater role in the DC plan ecosystem. In 2020, nearly half of all DC plan sponsors work with a financial advisor and one-third say their financial advisor is their sole source of external expertise. DC advisors are also fielding ever-growing demands from plan participants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps because of their increasingly influential role, DC advisors are facing heightened scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators, while continual pressure on fees is causing advisory firms to reexamine their business models and search for efficiencies in service delivery.

Retirement Plan Advisor Trends examines the role of advisors across all channels, with a focus on retirement plan specialists managing over $50M in
DC plan assets. The report benchmarks the leading DC plan providers and DC investment managers on key brand equity and experience metrics to help firms
grow market share and strengthen plan advisor loyalty.

Services provided to DC plan sponsors and participants
• Impact of fee disclosure regulations
• Number of plan providers typically recommended
• Number and type of investment options typically recommended
• QDIA option used most often
• Target date fund recommendation


The report will enable subscribers to:

Understand Advisor Needs
Hear firsthand how DC advisors are adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic

Track Competitors
Track how your competitors perform on key brand, service and loyalty metrics

Strengthen Advisor Loyalty
Develop programs that match plan advisors’ expectations for service and support to build loyal relationships


  • 500 advisors across the National wirehouse, Regional, Independent, RIA and Bank channels
  • Retirement plan advisors evaluated by DC AUM
  • Web-based survey
  • 34 DC plan providers and 46 DC investment managers evaluated

Areas of Inquiry

Plan Advisor Profile

Practice Overview:

  • Distribution of DC plan producers by DC AUM
  • Comparison of Emerging vs. Established producers
  • Number & size of DC plans managed

Topical Themes:

  • Availability, types and components of financial wellness programs offered
  • Use/interest in multiple employer plans, health savings accounts, 401(k) student loan matching and pooled employer plans

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Confidence in global economy
  • Outlook for US economy
  • Support offered to plan sponsors and plan participants
  • Support needed from plan providers
  • Impact on new DC business
  • Actions advisors have taken as a result of the pandemic
  • Actions taken by DC plan sponsor clients
  • Changes in communication methods
  • Providers/investment managers that stand out for COVID-19-related content

DC Plan Investment Design

  • Number and types of investment options recommended
  • Number of target date fund providers used
  • Target date fund selection criteria and brand recommendations
  • Types of QDIAs offered
  • Availability and types of retirement income solutions offered
  • Reasons that most recent plan switched providers
  • Frequency of evaluating DC plan investment menus
  • Top criteria for managed accounts
  • Reasons for recommending or not recommending ESG investments

DC Plan Provider & DC Investment Manager Brand Equity

  • Awareness, impression and consideration of leading plan providers and investment managers
  • Performance on critical brand attributes that drive selection
  • Strengths, weaknesses and growth potential of the leading firms
  • Brand engagement within the past six months across 12 types of contact

DC Plan Investment Design

  • Number of plan providers and investment managers used
  • Overall market penetration of the leading firms
  • Satisfaction with and loyalty to current DC plan providers and DC investment managers
  • Performance on critical service and support ratings that drive satisfaction and loyalty
  • Changes in DC plan provider and DC investment manager recommendations
  • Reasons to stop recommending firms

Subscription Details

Publication Date: September 2020

  • Detailed report including a summary of findings and strategic implications
  • Custom data cuts and survey work by senior analysts
  • Customized strategy session and presentation designed to deliver actionable results and facilitate strategic planning

Investment: $35,000

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