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Analysis

Deloitte 2017 Defined Contribution Benchmarking Survey

Annual report highlights defined contribution trends

​Deloitte's annual report shows that defined contribution plan sponsors are doing more to create better outcomes for their participants.

Defined contribution sponsors: Fiduciary responsibility role expands

As more employer-sponsored retirement plans have shifted from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans, investment decisions have moved from the hands of finance departments to individual participants. As a result, plan sponsors have shifted from a financial management role to a fiduciary oversight role. That oversight has become front and center for defined contribution plan sponsors as their fiduciary responsibility continues to evolve with changing regulations and participant needs.

The Deloitte 2017 Defined Contribution Benchmarking Survey report, indicates that one of the key defined contribution trends is that plan sponsors continue to evolve towards a broader interpretation of fiduciary responsibilities. Defined contribution sponsors are doing more to create better outcomes for their participants across the entire defined contribution experience—from enrollment to plan features and investments to financial well-being. It is now up to plan participants to start taking advantage of the improved defined contribution experience.

Defined contribution trends and the role of participants

As a fiduciary, defined contribution sponsors must act in the best interests of participants. The 2017 survey shows an overwhelming push to overcome obstacles, tap new methods, and simplify approaches in an effort to help participants tackle future retirement income needs.

Since the introduction of defined contribution plans, there has been an overarching desire to maximize participation, educate employees, and help participants become retirement ready. Now, through new technology, analytics, and enhanced communications, we are seeing innovative ways for plan sponsors to reach participants and overcome historical hurdles.

Although these tools and support are available, the survey shows evidence that participants are not taking full advantage of them. The responsibility is now in the hands of the participant to fully utilize the financial tools and resources defined contribution sponsors are giving them. The tools are there, the technology has evolved, the path is clear—the time is now for participants to engage in the improved, integrated defined contribution experience.

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Background on the 2017 defined contribution survey participants

The survey’s nearly 240 respondents are fairly evenly distributed by geography, size, industry, and ownership status (i.e., publicly or privately held).

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Hot topics and defined contribution trends

​Download the complete Deloitte 2017 Defined Contribution Benchmarking Survey report to find out more about defined contribution trends and hot topics, including the new Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule, communications, financial wellness, eligibility and enrollment, contributions, investments, fees, administration capabilities and innovation, provider relationships, and plan effectiveness.

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