New Study, Representing 33,000 Plan Sponsor Clients, Sheds Light on Pension Outlook and Trends

BALTIMORE, June 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — T. Rowe Award today published the findings of its latest Research study on defined contribution consultants. In partnership with the Schaus group, T. Rowe Award surveyed 32 defined contribution (DC) consultants and advisory firms that provide services to more than 33,000 plan sponsor clients and report nearly $7.2 trillion of assets under management — to examine market trends and the factors that influence plan sponsors’ decisions.

“The retirement ecosystem is changing rapidly, and we’re seeing the consulting and consulting community evolve their businesses to address both obstacles and new opportunities,” said Michael Davis, Head of Defined Contribution Plan Specialists and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Labor. “This investigation combines information from across the DC platform of T. Rowe Award with survey data provided by the consultant and advisor community. The Schaus Group has been an excellent partner in bringing together this research, which offers new insights into how consultants and advisors work alongside their plan sponsor clients to help plan members prepare for retirement and seek a broader financial well-being. »

The survey results revealed key themes including a better understanding of environmental, social and governance (ESG) adoption, support for the continued evolution of target date investments and retirement income solutions, and a growing interest in financial wellness programs, particularly in response to the COVID pandemic.

Although there is broad interest in ESG, the majority of consultants report that plan sponsors are seeking more clarity on the guidelines offered by the Department of Labor (DOL) before incorporating ESG investments into options. investment plans DC. When it comes to implementing ESG, 40% of survey respondents indicated a preference for actively managed ESG investment strategies; only 10% said passive ESG investment strategies were preferable. Additionally, respondents indicated that more detailed ESG screening, reporting and monitoring should be provided by investment providers.

Regarding target date solutions, the consultants strongly support an increased focus on target dates based on collective investment trusts (CITs) and the search for blended solutions that offer the benefits of active and passive investment management. It should be noted that these cost containment trends have received more support than simply increasing the use of passive investment management.

When looking at features that might reinforce participants’ tendency to remain in their DC plans after retirement, the lower cost of comparable investments compared to a rolling IRA, flexibility in asset reduction, and investments that generate income were ranked first.

Consultants also report that simple systematic withdrawal capabilities are the most attractive retirement income solution despite the limitations. However, multi-asset investment solutions (managed accounts with income planning features and target date investments with built-in managed payment features) follow closely behind.

Addressing greater financial well-being, 76% of consultants report that plan sponsors have shown greater interest in emergency savings, and 60% report greater interest in debt management . In contrast, most respondents indicated that less than 25% of their plan sponsor’s clients currently offer emergency savings programs. More positively, 83% of planning consultants expect this number to increase over the next three to five years.

Additionally, consultants see plan sponsors assess investment managers’ baseline reporting on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) to satisfy basic due diligence. However, further integration of DE&I information into plan and investment decisions may require evolution, as only 31% of plan sponsors use DE&I information to actively make decisions on new investment options.

“We are delighted to have released this new iteration of the Defined Contribution Consultant research study with T. Rowe Award,” said Stacy Schaus, founder and CEO of the Schaus Group. “This study allows the industry to delve deeper into critical retirement market topics and themes and shed light on important insights from consultants and advisory firms that have the ability to shape how pension plans employer-sponsored retirement could fit from here.”

The defined contribution research study was conducted in late 2021 during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The summary is available here.


The Defined Contribution Research 2021 Study was conducted by T. Rowe price in partnership with Schaus Group. The study population includes 32 defined contribution consultants interviewed September 20, 2021through November 82021. You can visit troweprice.com/dcio and refer to the 2021 Defined Contribution Research Study material for the highlights of this study. Participating companies also received a personalized report comparing their company’s responses to the overall responses. If you have any questions, please contact your T. Rowe Pricing Representative.


Founded in 1937, T. Rowe Award (NASDAQ-GS: TROW) is an independent global asset management company with $1.42 trillion of assets under management at April 30, 2022. The organization is focused on providing excellent investment and retirement services for institutional and individual investors. Our strategic investment approach, guided by independent thinking and guided by rigorous research, helps clients feel confident in pursuing financial goals. troweprice.com, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, instagramWhere Facebook.

SOURCE T. Rowe Price Group, Inc.

Paul N. Strickland