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Defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors juggle multiple responsibilities within their organization. While they often turn to financial advisors and consultants when making decisions about their DC plans, plan sponsors remain the ultimate decision-makers. Understanding and leveraging the plan sponsor perspective will give asset management firms a distinct advantage when changes to the plan are contemplated.


Retirement Planscape assesses the plan sponsor market, identifying competitive strengths and weaknesses in brand, loyalty and key experience metrics. The report explores the aspects leading plan sponsors consider when switching or choosing a new plan provider and examines the usage and perceptions of DC investment managers from the perspective of investment decision-makers within organizations offering 401(k) plans.


The report will enable subscribers to:

Maximize Revenue
Monitor key drivers of plan sponsor consideration to retain current clients and acquire new business

Measure Brand Loyalty and Momentum
Determine which levers to pull to build loyalty with current plan sponsors to maximize brand momentum

Understand Plan Sponsor Needs
Identify product and service offerings plan sponsors are looking for to increase satisfaction



  • 1,500 401(k) plan sponsors
    401(k) AUM segments include:
    • Micro (<$5M)
    • Small ($5M–<$20M)
    • Mid ($20M–<$100M)
    • Large ($100M–<$500M)
    • Mega ($500M+)
    (Custom segments available upon request)
  • Web-based survey
  • Cogent Reports carefully analyzes US retirement plan data from plan sponsor Form 5500 filings to design a sampling frame that mirrors the US plan sponsor market by plan asset size, number of plan participants and region

Subscription Details

Publication Date: May 2019


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

Investment: $40,000

Areas of Inquiry

Plan Sponsor Mindset

  • Primary areas of focus for the coming year
  • Engagement level with helping participants prepare for retirement
  • Challenges in maintaining a successful retirement plan, including plan costs
  • Types of intermediaries used

Effectiveness of Plan Providers

  • Top criteria used to evaluate the overall effectiveness of plan providers
  • Likelihood of conducting a formal plan review in the coming year
  • Plan provider contact and media consumption

Plan Provider Brand Equity, Use and Satisfaction

  • Awareness, impression and consideration of 35 plan providers
  • Performance on 17 critical brand attributes that drive selection
  • Strengths, weaknesses and growth potential for specific brands
  • Satisfaction with and loyalty to current plan provider; reasons for switching

Plan Design

  • Use of automatic plan features, Roth 401(k)s, loans and employer match
  • Frequency of qualified default investment alternative (QDIA) reviews
  • Availability and types of financial wellness programs offered
  • Components of financial wellness programs

Investment Menu Design

  • Frequency of investment lineup reviews
  • Use of and interest in adopting outsourced chief investment officer models
  • Historic and anticipated changes to investment lineups
  • Distribution of assets by investment vehicle
  • Types of target date funds offered and criteria for provider selection
  • Availability of retirement income solutions and types of solutions offered

DC Investment Manager Brand Equity and Differentiation

  • Awareness, impression and consideration of 46 DC investment managers
  • Performance on 16 critical brand attributes that drive selection
  • Strengths, weaknesses and growth potential for specific brands
  • Desired frequency and types of contact from DC investment managers

DC Investment Manager Use and Satisfaction

  • Number of DC investment managers used
  • Satisfaction with and loyalty to current DC investment managers
  • Anticipated changes to the plan investment mix
  • Reasons for dropping and/or reducing investments
  • Recent “watch list” outcomes (change vs. successful turnaround)

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